Homeowner’s insurance is one of the most vital forms of protection you can have when you own real estate. In addition to the liability coverage your policy includes if someone is hurt on your property, for example, it also offers financial protection against property damage.
Your homeowner’s insurance policy is designed to protect you if your home is damaged by a covered peril, including storms, natural disaster, vandalism, and theft. In South Florida, homeowners face unique threats that aren’t as common in non-coastal areas, including high winds, hurricanes, and roof damage.
The following are the most common types of home property damage in Florida, most of which are covered by homeowner’s insurance, along with potential problems you may face if you need to file a claim.
Hurricane & Wind Damage
In Florida, it’s no surprise that wind and hurricanes account for some of the most catastrophic damage to homes. Given how common hurricanes are in Florida, the state has unique rules on hurricane coverage. While there are steps to take to prepare for hurricane season, sometimes these aren’t enough. To limit insurers’ exposure to loss, Florida insurance companies sell homeowner’s insurance policies that have a percentage deductible for storm damage rather than a standard fixed deductible that applies to other losses. With a 5% deductible and a home insured for $300,000, for example, you would need to pay the first $15,000 on a hurricane damage claim before your policy pays out.
As hurricanes typically cause widespread destruction, they lead to thousands of related claims, overwhelming both insurance companies and contractors with damage that may be in the billions. This can lead to bad faith claims, cut corners, and unfair settlement offers as the mass of claims gives insurance companies a strong financial incentive to reduce payouts.
If your roof is damaged by a hurricane, your insurance company may claim the damage was due to normal wear and tear and not covered. The severity of the damage may also be undervalued. After a major natural disaster, it’s not common for unreasonably long delays in handling your claim.
Roof damage can occur due to high winds, hail, a hurricane, or even a falling tree. Unfortunately, homeowner’s insurance claims involving roof damage can become complicated very quickly. In most cases, roof damage requires complete replacement of the roof and the cost to replace an asphalt shingle or tile roof can quickly exceed $10,000.
Insurance companies deny roof damage claims for many reasons. The following are some of the most common reasons for denial:
- Your roof is considered too old
- The insurance company says the damage was your fault. They may try to claim you did not perform routine maintenance that contributed to the damage.
- The cause of the roof damage isn’t a covered peril.
- Your roof can be repaired and doesn’t need to be replaced. It’s very common for insurance companies to try to minimize claim payouts. This may be done by claiming that the damage to your roof can be fixed, even if repairs would not restore your roof’s structural integrity and appearance.
Your homeowner’s insurance likely covers water damage in many forms, including water damage from a burst pipe or rainwater. Water damage claims are often rejected or reduced as insurance companies consider water damage and flood damage as two separate issues. The typical insurance policy covers water damage from sudden events like a leaking appliance or a leaking roof but not flood damage, which can refer to water damage from a hurricane and heavy rain.
As a general rule, water that flows above ground and into the home or through the foundation is not covered by a typical homeowner’s insurance policy. This is why flood insurance is so crucial in high-risk areas like Florida.
Fire is one of the most serious and expensive property insurance claims. This is because a fire causes several types of damage: in addition to damage from the fire itself, your home can be damaged by soot and smoke. Firefighting efforts also contribute to the damage: many fire damage claims also involve water damage to the home.
With a fire damage claim, you are probably facing additional expenses aside from repairs or replacement of your belongings, including the cost of temporary shelter. These claims can be complicated due to the severity of the damage and the fact that damage to your home has likely been caused by not only fire and smoke but also water.
Hail may not be as common in Florida as it is in Texas, Illinois, and other states, but even South Florida gets extreme hail incidents, especially between April and July with a peak in May and June. There have even been cases in which hailstones of more than 3″ have fallen in Florida.
Hail can lead to widespread damage to vehicles, trees, and especially roofs and siding. When hail hits, it can ding gutters, permanently damage asphalt shingles, and crack vinyl siding. Sometimes hail damage can be difficult to identify without a close inspection and it’s commonly undervalued by insurance companies. If your roof is damaged by hail, your insurance company may downplay the damage, agree to pay for repairs instead of replacement, or even reject your claim completely.
No matter what type of property damage you experience, it’s important to protect your legal rights during the claims process. If your homeowner’s insurance property damage claim is denied or undervalued, a Florida attorney can help you with an investigation into inspections and evidence that can settle your dispute with the insurance company. Your Florida property damage lawyer can also negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company to seek a fair settlement that fully compensates you for the damage to your home.
Remember that you have rights if you receive an unfair claim denial or undervalued claim. You have the right to appeal the denial and even take your case to court if necessary.
Are you facing a denied or undervalued property damage claim with your homeowner’s insurance company? Contact SteinLaw today to speak with a homeowner’s insurance claims attorney in Florida who can assist with new, denied, or undervalued claims.