Homeowner’s insurance is designed to protect you when you suffer a loss due to sinkhole damage, storm damage, natural disaster, or other covered events. While your insurance company is supposed to honor all valid insurance claims, this doesn’t always happen. Unfortunately, sometimes insurance companies misinterpret their own policies or claims to reduce or refuse a valid claim.
When an insurance claim is denied, you can be left with catastrophic financial hardship, potentially without a safe home or the means to repair your home.
At SteinLaw, we help homeowners who have had an underpaid or denied insurance claim for property damage coverage. Even if your claim is denied, you have legal options available to dispute the denial or settlement amount and should seek the fair coverage you deserve under your policy limits.
Why Was Your Property Insurance Claim Denied?
Insurance companies are businesses focused on profit. It’s in their best interest to avoid paying or minimize payouts. To reduce payouts, insurance companies often offer low-ball settlements that they hope you will accept. They may even deny valid claims entirely.
Insurance companies may use a variety of tactics to reduce payouts and boost profits:
- Categorizing damage as beyond the scope of the policy
- Blaming damage on factors not covered by the policy
- Conducting an inadequate investigation into the damages
- Unreasonable delays in handling your claim
- Offering a settlement to repair what must be replaced
Hurricane & Windstorm Damage Claims
For example, if your roof is damaged in a severe storm such as a Hurricane, Tornado, or Windstorm, the insurance company may deny the claim and allege the roof damage was caused by normal wear and tear and therefore not covered by your policy. After a major disaster, insurance adjusters may be hired without the experience or knowledge necessary to fully investigate and document the damages and cause. In this case, your claim can be denied or severely undervalued.
Insurance companies count on most people simply walking away with the initial offer they receive without appealing the decision.
How a Florida Attorney Can Help You Protect Your Rights for Natural Disasters & Everyday Occurrences
If your homeowner’s insurance claim has been undervalued or denied, an experienced Florida lawyer can help by conducting a thorough investigation into home inspections, audits, and other evidence to settle your insurance claim dispute.
Our attorneys will work on your behalf to negotiate a fair settlement amount for your claim and, if necessary, file a lawsuit to fight for the coverage you deserve. In many cases, claims can be settled fairly within days or weeks (**Note- every case is different so timeline projections depend on the extent of property damage, the insurance payout provided, etc.).
With the representation of an experienced insurance claims attorney in Florida, a homeowner’s insurance claim will go through the following steps.
Gathering Evidence and Submitting Your Claim
The claims process will begin with documentation of the damages your home has suffered and an assessment of the damage. Your claim will be submitted to the insurance company.
An experienced adjuster will be sent to your property to assess the damage. The adjuster’s report will be used to determine the value of your claim. Unfortunately, this is where many claims go poorly when homeowners are not represented by an attorney.
The adjuster sent by your insurance company may be overworked, inexperienced, or purposefully undervalue the damage your home has sustained. Some adjusters work directly with the insurer and their job is to settle claims for as little as possible. When there is a major disaster, insurance companies even bring in adjusters from other states or adjusters with no experience who may work primarily as a contractor. These adjusters won’t be familiar with local costs or the potential damage to look for after a tropical storm, for example.
The adjuster will estimate the cost of repairs to your home and their report will be used by the insurance company to value your claim and offer a settlement.
If you are submitting a new claim with the help of an attorney, an expert adjuster maybe needed to meticulously create a comprehensive report that accurately reflects the damage to your home. This report will serve as the foundation for negotiations if a fair settlement offer isn’t reached.
Property Damage Insurance Claim Negotiations
After making a claim, your insurance company will likely require that you take several steps such as minimizing damage to the home and providing documentation. SteinLaw can guide you through this process to establish your insurance claim and protect your legal rights.
This stage will also involve negotiations if the insurance company’s initial settlement offer does not suffice for what the costs of repairs will be for your home. Our attorneys will present the documentation and evidence that has been built to support a higher claim value.
Appealing an Unfair Claim Denial
When an insurance claim is denied, the insurance company provides a written explanation for the denial such as lack of coverage. Sometimes a simple clerical error can be cause for denial. If you have gone through the claims process on your own and your insurance claim has been denied, you still have legal rights.
It’s a good idea to contact the Florida insurance claims lawyers at SteinLaw to appeal the denial. Our attorneys will handle everything in your legal case from the first consultation to drafting an appeal explaining why the claim is valid with evidence and documentation to support your claim.
If the claim still can’t be settled or resolved, you have the right to sue your insurance company under Florida law.
Insurance Companies Are Responsible for Attorneys’ Fees in Wrongful Claim Denials
If your insurance company refuses to properly value or approve your home insurance claim, you have the right to file a lawsuit against your insurance company under Florida law.
The Florida Supreme Court recently reminded homeowners of an important tool they have at their disposal in the case of unfair denial of coverage: awarding of attorney’s fees.
Under Florida Statute 627.428, policyholders are awarded attorney’s fees and costs in a case against the insurance company. The law does not require that an improper denial rises to the level of “bad faith;” the denial only needs to be incorrect.
If you believe your homeowner’s insurance claim was improperly denied or undervalued, a Florida insurance claim lawyer can help you build your case and pursue the coverage you deserve.
Under Florida law, the insurance company will be liable for paying the attorney’s fees — not the homeowner.
Contact a Homeowner’s Insurance Claims Lawyer in Florida
Unfortunately, wrongful insurance claims denials and undervalued claims are all too common in Florida, especially after a disaster such as hurricanes. An experienced insurance claims attorney in Florida can fight on your behalf for the full value of your claim to make you whole again after you have suffered damage to your home.
At SteinLaw, we can help with new claims, denied claims, and underpaid claims.
Contact SteinLaw today to schedule a free consultation with an insurance claims attorney to review your legal options.