Are you eligible to file an insurance claim?
If you have an insurance policy, you have a contract with your insurance company that requires them to provide certain coverage and the performance of certain duties. In the section below, we delve into different aspect of insurance claims, from homeowner’s insurance to motor vehicle.
Homeowner’s Insurance Claims
When your home is damaged by a storm, hurricane, a fire, roof leak or a plumbing leak, your homeowner’s insurance company may be responsible for paying for some or all of the repairs. These repairs can be very expensive – sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most insurance companies and their claims adjusters treat take these claims seriously and work to properly evaluate and pay them.
Unfortunately, not all insurance companies or individual adjusters behave the way they should. Unscrupulous insurance adjusters may try to take advantage of your difficult circumstances to gain an unfair advantage and so minimize the amount of money they pay out for a homeowner’s insurance claim. This can leave you, the homeowner, with enormous expenses. The lawyers at our firm are experienced in handling all types of homeowners insurance claims and are available to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Most insurance policies require the homeowner to take steps to “mitigate” or minimize the damage to their house. When a home suffers water damage, the affected area must be dried out in order to prevent mold. If mold is permitted to grow, it can compound the damage to the house.
There are water mitigation or restoration companies that will respond to your home very quickly and take the steps necessary to prevent further damage to your house. Often times they will make arrangements with the homeowner to bill the insurance company directly. Our lawyers are experienced in assisting water restoration contractors in securing the insurance payment they are entitled to.
Our insurance claim lawyers and paralegals are here to help you through every phase of the insurance claims process.
Automobile Windshield Claims
Most automobile insurance policies provide for the replacement of a broken windshield with a zero deductible meaning the auto owner should not have to pay any money for the repair. The body shop or auto glass provider usually bills the insurance company directly for the cost of the repair.
Some insurance companies refuse to pay the going rate for a windshield repair and try to low ball the repair facility. This can result in additional expenses for the auto owner. Our lawyers can help auto glass businesses and body shops recover the insurance payment they are entitled to at the prevailing market rate. If insurance companies are not handling your auto glass claim properly, our lawyers can help.
Holding an Insurer Accountable for Fulfilling its Duties
When an insured individual files a claim with her insurance company, the insurer has a duty to respond to the claim and take the necessary actions to resolve it. The required response from the insurer may vary depending on the type of incident for which the policyholder is filing a claim. Insurance claims often arise when the insured’s property was damaged in some way, such as in the case of a home sustaining damage after a pipe burst or damage caused by a hurricane, or when a windshield on an automobile has been broken.
When a loss like this occurs, the policyholder would file a claim with her insurance company to cover the cost of repair or replacement of the property. In a contrasting example, if a third party is claiming that he or she was harmed due to action or inaction by the insured party, the insurance company may have to defend a claim or lawsuit brought by the third party against the insured individual.
In either situation, your insurance company has a duty to respond appropriately to the claim on behalf of its insured. After a claim has been filed, the insurer must adjust the claim promptly and perform a valuation of any damaged property. The insurance company also has a duty to deal truthfully with their insured in all matters related to processing the claim.
Bringing a Bad Faith Claim
If your insurance company treats you unfairly or fails to perform the duties owed to an insured, it may considered to have acted in “bad faith”. The policyholder may be able to bring a bad faith claim against the insurance company. Bad faith claims usually involve allegations that the insurer acted in a way that was dishonest, unethical or fraudulent in some way. Sometimes it can be based on the insurer’s failure to respond to a claim filed or undervaluing the property at issue.
If a judge or jury determines that the insurer acted in bad faith, the insurer will be found liable and may be required to pay damages to the insured that exceed the amount of money lost by the insured. They may be required to pay the insured’s attorney’s fees as well.
Florida No-Fault Insurance
Florida is what is called a “no-fault state.” Under Florida’s no-fault law, drivers are only required to have a minimum of $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage and a minimum of $10,000 of Property Damage Liability insurance coverage. As a result, even if a negligent driver has the minimum insurance coverage required by law, there may still be insufficient coverage to fully compensate accident victims for their injuries.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If you or someone you know have been involved in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you may still be able to obtain compensation for your injuries if you or a resident relative have uninsured motorist insurance coverage on your automobile insurance policy. Uninsured motorist coverage is an optional coverage in Florida that allows accident victims to make a claim under their own insurance policy for compensation for injuries caused by a negligent uninsured or underinsured driver up to the limit stated in the policy.
Compensation may be recovered for medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, disability and for the wrongful death of a family member. In the case of an underinsured driver, the victim’s UM/UIM policy may cover the balance of the value of her injuries not covered by the underinsured driver’s policy. For example, if a negligent driver has only $10,000 of liability insurance coverage and the injured victim suffered injuries valued at $1 million, the victim’s insurance company may be responsible for paying the balance up to the policy limits. It is not always clear to the injured victim what her policy limits are since UM/UIM coverage can be “stacking” or “non-stacking” and can have a single limit or one limit per person and another per accident limit.
Too often in Florida, when a claim is made for UM/UIM benefits, the insurance company attempts to deny coverage or to minimize the victim’s injuries or to blame the victim in an attempt to save money. Insurance adjusters know the laws that apply to motor vehicle accidents and insurance policies and use them to put victims at a disadvantage.