Your home is probably one of your most valuable assets. You’ve invested heavily in a place that’s more than just shelter; it holds memories and precious belongings. When the unexpected occurs, you expect your property insurance to come through in your time of need. Unfortunately, the property damage insurance claims process can be lengthy, complicated and frustrating. Let’s take a closer look at your rights as a homeowner and what to do when an insurance company violates those rights.
Your Rights as a Florida Homeowner
As a homeowner, you have rights under Florida law. As set forth in Florida Statute §627.7174 your insurance company is required to provide you the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights within 14 days of reporting your claims. The Bill outlines your right and the insurance companies responsibilities on your claim:
1. Your property insurance claim must acknowledge they received your claim within 14 days of when you submitted the claim. However, the law doesn’t specify how the insurer has to acknowledge the claim. Ask for written acknowledgment of your claim and follow up with the insurance company if you don’t hear from them within two weeks.
2. If you request it in writing, your insurance company must provide the status of your claim within 30 days of when you submit a complete proof-of-loss statement. The company can confirm the claim will be paid in full, the claim will be partially covered, the claim is being denied or that the claim is being investigated.
3. Within 90 days of your initial claim, you must receive one of the following:
- Full payment of your claim.
- Payment of the undisputed part of your claim.
- Written denial of your claim.
4. You may be eligible for free mediation. The Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Consumer Services offers mediation. Note that mediation is non-binding and the insurance company is not obligated to follow the mediator’s recommendations.
5. You may be eligible for a neutral evaluation. If your claim involves sinkhole activity, you have the right to request a non-binding neutral evaluation. If you request a neutral evaluation, it can have adverse effects on any litigation process.
Exercising your rights as a homeowner takes a good deal of paperwork and recordkeeping. If you have not been keeping perfect track of everything, that’s okay. Retrace your steps as best as you can and follow up if your property insurance company has missed one of their deadlines.
Your Responsibilities as a Florida Homeowner
The Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights also spells out your responsibilities as a homeowner. According to the bill, you should:
1. Talk with your insurance company before signing a contract for repairs to ensure you comply with any insurance policy provisions.
2. Make any required emergency/temporary repairs right away. You need to protect your property from future damages. You do not want the current damages to lead to more damage. Document the current state of the property before making emergency / temporary repairs. For example, a damaged roof could allow water to cause additional damages to your home, tarp your roof to prevent additional water from entering your home. Take pictures of everything and keep your receipts.
3. Confirm your contractor is licensed in Florida. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation can verify your contractor’s license and tell you if the contractor has had any complaints.
4. Review each contractor’s proof of insurance.
5. Secure your home if you need to leave due to damage. This includes turning off your gas, water and electricity and contacting your insurer with a number where you can be reached.
As if dealing with a disaster wasn’t enough, property insurance claims place additional responsibility on your shoulders. The good news is that you don’t have to deal with a claim alone. At Danahy and Murray, we’re deeply experienced in handling property damage claims. If you feel your claim isn’t being handled fairly or promptly, call a Danahy and Murray attorney today at 1-855-969-5100. We’re here to help.