The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reports that as of January 5, 2018, approximately 83% of Hurricane Irma claims have been “closed.” However, just because the insurance company closed its file does not mean that you have been made whole for your loss. Many Florida homeowners still haven’t been paid for all of their covered damages, or worse, their claims have been improperly denied. Of course, the first step is to report your claim as soon as you observe or suspect damage to your home. Always allow the insurance adjuster to fully inspect the damages and take photographs. Most policies also require insureds to produce documents and provide recorded statements if requested by the adjuster. Review your insurance policy to make sure you are complying with all post-loss obligations.
After the insurance company completes its investigation, it should provide you with a coverage letter in which it admits or denies coverage. If coverage is admitted, the insurance company is required to pay all undisputed damages within 90 days pursuant to Fla. Stat. 626.9541(1)(i)(4). Carefully review any estimates prepared by the insurance company’s adjuster (or contractor) to confirm that all damages are included and assigned a proper value. If you believe the insurance company’s estimate and/or payment are incorrect, you should obtain an estimate from your own contractor, which accurately reflects all damages and repairs. You are entitled to have your property returned to its pre-loss condition by a licensed contractor. However, if you move forward making your own permanent repairs only amounts actually spent will be paid by the insurance company.
In order to dispute the insurer’s estimate and payment, you must provide the insurance company with a contrary damage estimate. All claim correspondence (especially any correspondence in which you dispute an estimate, payment, and/or coverage decision) should be written, and you should always save a copy of all claim communications. Email is very effective for claim communications. The insurance company is then required to review and acknowledge your claim communications within 14 calendar days pursuant to Fla. Stat. 627.70131(1)(a).
Many insureds understandably become frustrated with the lengthy claim adjustment and handling process—especially when it results in an underpayment or denial. If you have any questions regarding your claim, the payment of your damages, or a coverage denial, please contact us for a free consultation. Your home or business is probably your most valuable asset, and we will review your claim to ensure that you are receiving the coverage you purchased. All consultations are free.