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 to perform certain duties in exchange for the premiums you paid them. The coverage provided and the duties owed depend on the type of policy you have. There are several different types of property insurance policies including "homeowner's insurance policies," renters policies and commercial property insurance policies.
Homeowner's Insurance Claims
When your home is damaged by a hurricane or other windstorm, a fire, plumbing leak or a roof 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. While some insurance companies and their adjusters take these claims seriously and work to properly evaluate and pay them, most of them don't.
Insurance companies are happy to collect your premiums, but they often look for any opportunity to hold on to their money when a claim is made. It is a common practice for insurance companies to try to get away with paying only a fraction of what the necessary repairs will cost, leaving you responsible to pay the difference. They often use delay tactics to pressure you into accepting an unreasonably low offer.
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 on your homeowner's insurance claim. Many of the adjusters who inspect damaged homes for insurance companies write unrealistically low repair estimates in the hope that the insurance company will continue to give them claims to adjust for them.
Once the claims process begins, the deck can be quickly stacked against the un-represented homeowner. Experienced legal representation can level the playing field.
These tactics can leave you with astronomical 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 also experienced in assisting water restoration contractors in securing the insurance payment they are entitled to.
The insurance claim lawyers and paralegals at Hannon Legal Group are here to help you through every phase of the claims process - from beginning to end. In fact, it is usually best to hire an experienced insurance lawyer as soon as you believe you may have an insurance claim so they can guide you through the claims process.
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, determine if the loss is covered by the policy and take the necessary steps to resolve it. The required response from the insurer may vary depending on the type of loss for which the claim was filed. Insurance claims arise when the insured property is damaged in some way. Damage can result from events which are covered by the policy or from events that are not covered. The type of policy you have determines what events are covered. For example, under a standard HO3 policy, also known as an "all risk" policy, every type of damage to the covered property is covered unless it is specifically excluded. Damage resulting from a broken plumbing pipe or by a hurricane are included in the types of loss that are usually covered by an HO3 policy.
When a loss like this occurs, the homeowner must file a claim with her insurance company to begin the claims process.
Notice of a Claim
Most insurance policies require an insured to notify the insurance company of a loss shortly after it occurs. Claims are often denied for providing "late notice." For this reason, it is important to provide notice of a loss or potential claim as soon as after a loss as possible.
Delay in reporting a loss may result in your insurance company denying your claim. Sometimes insurance companies deny claims using the excuse of "late reporting" when they shouldn’t. If your insurance company denied your claim, you should seek legal advice from an experienced insurance claims lawyer right away in order to preserve your rights. The insurance claims lawyers at Hannon Legal Group are available for a free consultation. We can assist you in moving your claim forward and will use the legal system to hold your insurance company accountable if they improperly denied your claim.
Insurance Policy Exclusions
Every insurance policy contains exclusions – clauses which exclude coverage for certain types of losses. When a loss falls into one of the categories that triggers a policy exclusion, the insurance company will usually deny your claim. Unfortunately, some insurance adjusters will try to squeeze a covered loss into an exclusion and deny a claim that should be paid. The application of exclusionary clauses in an insurance policy can require a complicated analysis of several factors. If your claim has been denied because of an exclusion in your insurance policy, you should speak with an experienced insurance claim lawyer right away in order to preserve your legal rights. The experienced insurance claims lawyers at Hannon Legal Group are available to review your policy and help you obtain the insurance coverage you are entitled to.
Commercial Property Claims
Commercial property, including condominium associations, townhouse developments, apartment buildings, retail shopping centers and office buildings are usually covered by an insurance policy similar to a homeowner’s insurance policy. When commercial properties suffer physical damage from a hurricane, plumbing leak or other loss, the owners may have a substantial insurance claim. Insurance companies that insure commercial property have specific duties and responsibilities which are explained in the commercial insurance policy.
Making a claim for damage or loss to a commercial property can be more complicated than making a claim under a homeowner's policy. In the case of a condominium association, the circumstances surrounding the loss and the cause of the loss must usually be analyzed in conjunction with the condo docs and bylaws and with individual renter or unit owners’ insurance policies.
Like homeowner’s policies, commercial insurance policies require the insured or property manager to notify the insurance company of a loss promptly and coverage can be denied for late reporting. Commercial policies also contain exclusions and conditions which may affect coverage.
The trial lawyers at Hannon Legal Group are experienced in representing commercial property owners and condominium associations for insurance claims arising out of hurricanes, plumbing leaks, fire and other losses. Our team of lawyers, paralegals and investigators is available to help initiate the claims process and see your commercial insurance claim through to a favorable recovery. Call Hannon Legal Group today for a free consultation about your commercial insurance claim.
Insurance Bad Faith Claims
If your insurance company treats you unfairly or fails to perform the duties owed to an insured as a business practice, their actions or omissions may amount to "bad faith." Florida has a statute that sets out the types of practices that are considered "bad faith claims practices." Under the right set of circumstances, a 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 these claims can be based on the insurer's failure to respond to a claim or undervaluing the damage property.
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 coverage provided by the policy. They will also usually be required to pay the insured's attorney's fees.