Being a homeowner in the State of Florida can be the hallmark of the American dream or a pain in the neck - depending on your perspective. Homeownership can be financially beneficial and allow a family to build a life together. However, purchasing and maintaining a home in Florida can be difficult and costly. The costs can add up between battling competitive offers on your prospective properties and protecting your home from the harsh weather. The last thing many prospective homeowners worry about is their insurance premiums—let alone filing a claim with their insurance carrier when damage occurs. At Lacey Lyons Rezanka, we are here when you need a Melbourne and Rockledge homeowners’ insurance claims attorney by your side.
Florida Home Insurance Claims by the Numbers
Insurance premiums in the Sunshine State are some of the highest in the county. According to data compiled by the Insurance Information Institute (III), Floridians pay an average of $1,960 annually, the second-highest in the nation. Furthermore, 32.2% of homeowning Floridians spend 30% or more of their annual income on homeownership costs, including mortgage, utilities, maintenance, and, most notably, high insurance premiums.
Although one may think wind and water damage caused by excessive flooding and hurricanes would be the main culprit of such high premiums, a recent report by CBS 12 News quotes experts citing roofing scams and costly insurance lawsuits as the reason for the high cost. Regardless of a homeowner’s good credit and good fortune, everyone is subjected to extraordinarily high premium costs.
Types of Damage Covered by Homeowners Insurance
Most homeowner insurance policies cover a wide variety of damages, but not every policy is created equal. Depending on the location of your home, the insurance company supplying your coverage, and the details of your policy may vary the cost. Many typical insurance policies cover the following forms of damages:
- Damaged caused by a vehicle
- Mold damage
- Falling objects
- Exterior damage, including to a home’s roof, windows, and sidings
- Damage to a foundation
- Damage caused by a sinkhole
- Non-weather-related damage caused by household appliances, heating, and cooling elements, and utilities
Some homeowners may be surprised to see sinkhole damage on the list above. However, such damage is typical in Florida. State law requires that insurance policies include catastrophic ground coverage, but sinkhole coverage is optional. So, while most homeowners in many other states seldom have to worry about sinkholes because sinkhole damage is infrequent, they are common throughout Florida.
Dealing with Your Insurance Company
When the average homeowner diligently pays their homeowners insurance every month, year after year, they expect their loyalty to be honored when disaster strikes. In many instances, a homeowner’s insurance policy pays out the repair costs resulting from damage. However, this is not always the case.
Many homeowners have had the unfortunate reality of dealing with an insurance provider who denied their claim. Unfortunately, this can happen for many reasons. More often than not, policies are written to exclude certain forms of damage for specific reasons. Alternatively, insurance investigators will evaluate the underlying nature of the property damage and argue that the cause of the damage could have been prevented. In either case, this puts homeowners in a difficult position.
By consulting with an experienced homeowner insurance claims attorney, a homeowner can determine whether their insurance company has a legitimate claim to not payout on a policy and have legal representation to ensure damage is fixed.
Filing an Insurance Claim
Filing a homeowner insurance claim can be a relatively long and mundane process that can take months to sort out. Below is the general outline of the process.
Step 1: Figuring out the Damage
After years of homeownership and consistent insurance payments, a homeowner hears a loud bang during a particularly severe thunderstorm. The neighbor’s tree has fallen on their roof, causing a massive hole. What should the homeowner do now? Well, they should shelter in place until the thunderstorm has passed and ensure all occupants are safe. Once the storm has passed, the homeowner should assess the damage by safely inspecting the damaged area and taking multiple pictures.
Step 2: Contacting the Insurance Company
As soon as possible, the homeowner should contact their homeowner’s insurance company to file a claim. An adjuster will ask for your coverage information when filing a claim and likely send an investigator to assess the damage. Once the investigator arrives, they will inspect the property and collect evidence of the cause of the damage.
Step 3: Fixing the Damage
Depending on the damage, homeowners cannot wait for their policies to immediately make repairs, as processing claims can take weeks to months. In this case, the homeowner should directly collect estimates for repair. Once repairs have been completed, the homeowner should submit all receipts to their adjuster. In addition, many insurance policies require homeowners to take proactive steps to repair the damage or mitigate the risk of causing more damage—in this case, placing a tarp over the damaged area of the roof and protecting valuables inside the home.
Step 4: Awaiting Payment
By now, all necessary repairs have been completed, and the homeowner is waiting to reimburse their home repair expenses from their insurance company.
When to Contact an Attorney
Throughout any step of this process, your insurance company may indicate an issue with your claim. If you have not done so already, contacting an attorney is in your best interest. An insurance company will always look for an opportunity not to pay on a policy. In the example above, the insurance company may argue that the policy is not valid because the tree that caused the damage was on the neighbor’s property. Instead, the homeowner would have to collect repair costs from the neighbor or their insurance.
When an insurance company refuses to honor its commitment, an experienced homeowner insurance claims attorney can fight for that homeowner’s interests.
Contact Us Today for a Consultation
If you recently filed a claim under your homeowner insurance policy but have had difficulty getting your insurer to pay, our experienced Melbourne and Rockledge homeowners’ insurance claims attorneys at Lacey Lyons Rezanka can help. Contact us by calling 321-608-0890 for assistance.