Sinkhole Litigation/Application Misrepresentation: trial court improperly granted summary judgment in insurer’s favor rescinding insurance policy on the basis that homeowners misrepresented condition of home in application because of the limited evidence presented – Mora v. Tower Hill Prime Ins. Co., Case No. 2D13-4125 (Fla. 2d DCA Jan. 23, 2015) (reversed and remanded)
Most Florida homeowners have an insurance policy to protect their home against water damage, storm damage, vandalism, theft and fire. When a loss occurs, your insurance policy should allow you to return your property to its pre-loss condition. Yet, countless homeowners experience a feeling of helplessness when their claim is denied or underpaid by the insurance company. This article addresses a few important points that you should know about a typical Florida Homeowner’s insurance policy and will hopefully increase your awareness of your rights and the steps to take in the event of a loss.
1. Understand your insurance policy.
All homeowners in Florida should read and attempt to understand their policy. If you have a question about what is covered or not covered, speak to your insurance agent or an experienced property insurance attorney to obtain a detailed explanation. A typical Florida Homeowner’s insurance policy will pay for damage to your property and possessions after a loss. A loss can be a storm such as a hurricane, tornado, fire, plumbing or roof leak, theft, or act of vandalism. The insurance policy should also cover your out of pocket expenses if the loss is significant enough to displace you from your home.
Most Florida Homeowner’s insurance policies do not include coverage for damages caused by power failure, faulty zoning, earth movement, defective maintenance, bad workmanship and flooding. Also, with respect to plumbing leaks, most policies exclude damage caused by any leaks that have been ongoing for an extended period of time, or damage caused by “constant or repeated seepage or leakage.” Your insurance company may rely on its interpretation of the policy to wrongfully deny your claim.
2. File your claim immediately
A Florida Homeowners’ insurance policy lists the duties you have to comply with in order to have a right to coverage. One such duty that exists in every insurance policy is the duty to timely report your claim to the insurance company. The window to report a claim can be as short as only a few days. Additionally, by not immediately reporting your claim, you might be allowing the conditions of the property to worsen over time, which could result in the insurance company denying your claim for failure to mitigate damages. Keep in mind that you, as the insured, are entitled to challenge the insurance company’s denial and it is the insurance company’s burden to show why a claim is not covered.
3. Document everything
Another important duty that is included in a Florida Homeowner’s insurance policy, is the Homeowner’s obligation to provide the insurance company with documentation of their loss. This includes providing any receipts, police reports, photographs or videos in your possession. To avoid a denial based upon lack of cooperation by the insurance company, you should keep copies of everything.
If you have any questions concerning your Homeowners’ insurance policy, or think you may have a property claim, call The Property Claim Lawyers of The Mineo Salcedo Law Firm. One of our attorneys will be happy to review your insurance policy and conduct a free inspection of your home.