Property Damage Insurance Claims
Property insurance claims can be the subject of many different types of losses. Common losses include the following: broken pipes, fires, floods, hail, hurricanes, mold, roof leaks, sinkholes, storms, tornados, vandalism and theft, water infiltration, and wind.
Residential Property Insurance
For most Floridians, a home (single family residence, condominium, townhome, etc.) is the most expensive and valuable asset they will ever own. That is why nearly everyone who owns a home has some form or property insurance (commonly called homeowner’s insurance). Although this insurance product is widely used, it is poorly understood. Sadly, this could put your home and finances at risk. The Law Offices of Donald M. Kreke has been helping Floridians manage and reduce such risks for over 20 years.
Generally, a homeowner’s insurance policy covers damage to the main dwelling (commonly referred to as “Coverage A”), other structures (commonly referred to as “Coverage B”), personal property (commonly referred to as “Coverage C”), and additional living expenses/loss of use (commonly referred to as “Coverage “D”) incurred if your dwelling or part thereof is not inhabitable or usable. This may be different for a condominium or townhome. In any event, such insurance policies contain limits on the amount of coverage, limitations on what is covered, and exclusions that are important to understand. They are also subject to at least one deductible.
If you have any questions about your property insurance policy or if you have damage to your property and need help submitting your claim, call us at 305-669-0299. We help homeowners when their property insurer has wrongly: (1) underpaid a loss or claim; (2) delayed payment for a loss or claim; or (3) denied a claim when it should have been paid. Additionally, we represent homeowners when their insurers have acted in “bad faith.”
Important Points You Should Know About Homeowner’s Insurance
- A homeowner’s insurance policy is a legal agreement (contract). In exchange for insurance coverage, the homeowner is obligated to do more than just pay his, her, or their insurance premiums. In almost every homeowner’s insurance policy is a section outlining the homeowner’s obligations. It is typically entitled “Duties After Loss.” It is very important to familiarize yourself with these duties because failure to abide by them may void the policy. Generally, most policies require the homeowner to do the following (amongst other things):
(1) promptly report the loss;
(2) protect the property from further loss;
(3) show the insurance company the damaged property and otherwise allow it to inspect the loss;
(4) keep accurate records of expenditures for repairs to the damaged property (and provide them to the insurance company upon request);
(5) provide a “sworn proof of loss” (a form outlining the amount you are claiming for the damage to your property), typically upon request by the insurance company; and
(6) give statements (sometimes called examinations under oath or “EUO’S”) regarding the loss, typically upon the request of the insurance company.
Your property insurance policy may require other obligations so it is important to read it carefully before and after a loss. Many of the obligations above involve sensitive matters which should be handled with great care. If you are confused or have questions, call The Law Offices of Donald M. Kreke at 305-669-0281.
In addition to the issues noted above, it is important to remember the following.
- Make sure the information you provide/provided on your application for property insurance is/was accurate. Certain inaccuracies may void your policy and leave you with no insurance or coverage after a loss.
- Homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood losses. If you need coverage for a potential flood, call your insurance agent and ask for a flood insurance policy.
- It is best to keep your coverage current by paying your insurance premiums. Failing to do so may result in a cancellation of your coverage. If this happens and you have a mortgage, your mortgage company may get insurance for you. This type of insurance is typically called “force placed” or “lender placed” insurance. Generally, this type of insurance is far more expensive and provides less coverage than regular homeowner’s insurance.
- Read your insurance policy to make sure you are properly covered. Do not trust that someone else has done that for you. Carefully look at the “declarations pages” to check the amount of the coverage you have, and review the rest of the policy, including the exclusions, endorsements, riders, etc. to see what is, and what is not, covered.
- Document the condition of your property via photographs or a video, and keep a written inventory of your personal belongings. These efforts may help you recover the proper amount of insurance proceeds in the event of a loss.
Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial property insurance typically provide coverage for damage to a business entities’ building and business personal property. Depending on the coverage acquired, they can also cover loss of business income, “extra expenses,” and losses related to power failures. Like their residential counterparts, commercial policies have conditions, limits on the amounts of coverage, limitations on what is covered, and exclusions. Such policies are also subject to at least one deductible.
How The Law Offices of Donald M. Kreke can Help You with Your Property Insurance Claim
Our office helps homeowners and business owners in all phases of the insurance claim process – from filing initial claims (or supplemental claims) to resolving claims through mediation, appraisal, or litigation. We assist individuals and business owners with the following.
- Reporting the loss and establishing claims. After an individual or business sustains a property loss, the insurer that insured the property at the time of the loss should be put on notice of the damage. Reporting the loss in a timely manner makes it more difficult for an insurer to argue that it has been prejudiced by late notice of a claim. When the claim is submitted, a representative from the insurer will usually issue a claim number for all future references to the damage and associated repairs.
- Coordinating and if needed, attending inspections of properties. It is very common for insurers to send adjusters or other consultants of various kinds to inspect the loss sustained to the insured property. Cooperating and coordinating these inspections with the insurer helps to prevent the insurer from arguing that it was prejudiced because it was not granted access or timely access to the loss location to inspect the damage.
- Completing and submitting sworn proofs of loss. At some point after receiving notification of a loss, insurers typically request that the insured provide a “Sworn Proof of Loss.” Generally, this is a one or two page document that requests very general information concerning the loss, including the amount of the loss (although that amount is not always known by the insured because the insured is usually does not have the expertise to how much damage has been sustained and how much such damage would cost to repair).
- Gathering, compiling, and submitting documents to insurers substantiating losses and repairs. Insurance companies commonly request that their insureds provide any and all documents related to the damage sustained to the property, and proof of repairs, etc.
- Attending and protecting the interests of insureds during examinations under oath (commonly referred to as an “EUO”) or recorded statements. Insurers often exercise their rights pursuant to insurance policies to take a “sworn statement” and/or recorded statement of the insured(s) (and others) regarding the loss.
- Working with other professionals assisting insureds during the claims process. Often, it becomes necessary for an insured to employ the services of other professionals to help resolve a claim. Those professionals include public adjusters, experts, and consultants. Public adjusters are insurance professionals who are hired by insureds to evaluate the scope of the damage to the property, and to determine the cost to repair or replace the property. In doing so, they often provide a sophisticated estimate (similar to the estimates provided by the adjusters employed by the insurance companies) in support of the insured’s claim(s). Sometimes forensic experts and consultants are also retained by insureds to more accurately and fairly evaluate the insured’s losses.
- Attending and protecting the interests of insureds during pre-suit mediations. Florida has initiated a mediation program to assist with the resolution of property insurance claims. See Fla. Stat. § 627.7015; Fla. Admin. Code R. 69O-166.031; 69J-166.002; and 69J-166.031. Our office helps insureds initiate the request for mediation, coordinate the scheduling of the mediation, and attend the mediation with the insured.
- Invoking appraisal on behalf of insureds. When appropriate (and there is an appraisal clause in the insurance policy), we assist the insured in requesting an appraisal to determine the amount of the loss, and selecting an appraiser and umpire. At times, we also serve as the insured’s appraiser.
- Assisting insureds settle their property insurance claims. Litigation is not always necessary. When possible, we attempt to secure a fair settlement on behalf of our clients. This often involves a sophisticated process of negotiation with an insurance company and its adjusters and/or attorneys.
- Filing Civil Remedy Notices of Insurer Violations (often referred to as “CRN’S”) on behalf of insureds. When factual and legal support exists to support a potential claim for bad faith insurance practices against the insurance company, we draft and file CRN’S with the Florida Department of Financial Services on behalf of our clients. This is often due to an insurer and its representatives unduly delaying the investigation and payment of a claim, unjustifiably denying a claim, or engaging in some other unfair practice as it relates to the handling of an insured’s claim.
- Litigating property insurance claims on behalf of insureds. At times, it is necessary to initiate a lawsuit against a property insurance company. In the event a lawsuit is filed, we will attempt to recovery of attorney’s fees and costs for our clients. See Fla. Stat. §§ 627.428; 626.9373; 631.70; 768.79; 624.155; 59.46; 57.104; and 627.351.
Just because your claim has been denied does not mean that you cannot further pursue that claim. Our firm often handles claims that have been previously denied.
If an insurance company fails to fully pay an insurance claim, or fails to adequately or accurately determine the scope of damages, an insured can file a supplemental or “re-opened” claim. It is important to note that such claims should be carefully reviewed for statute of limitations issues so that the claim is not time barred.
Has Your Property Sustained Damage that is Potentially Covered by a Property Insurance Policy? Has Your Insurance Claim Been Denied, Delayed, or Underpaid?
Call The Law Offices of Donald M. Kreke today for a free consultation regarding your property insurance claim. If you are unable to come to our office, we will come to see you.
Other Legal Matters Handled by The Law Offices of Donald M. Kreke
In addition to property insurance claims, The Law Offices of Donald M. Kreke handles other legal matters including: personal injury matters (including, but not limited to, truck crash claims, automobile accident claims, motorcycle wreck claims, boating collision claims, claims against cruise lines, premises liability claims, slip and fall accident claims, negligent security claims, dog bite claims, and defective products claims), bad faith insurance claims, property damage claims, collection matters, criminal defense matters, traffic offenses (including speeding tickets), claims against insurance brokers and/or agents, medical malpractice claims, nursing home claims and elderly abuse claims, and matters involving contract disputes. We also assist clients with reviewing and drafting contracts. If your legal issue or matter is not listed above, please contact us. We may be able to help.