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Miami Florida Insurance Claim Law Blog

An inaccurate W-9 can delay property insurance payments

The delay in receiving insurance proceeds for a property damage claim can be an extremely frustrating experience. The homeowner wants repairs made, and the insurance company wants to make sure it is paying the correct party. As people in Florida have found out, a finance company or bank holding a security interest can hold up payment.

A case in Miami demonstrates the problems incurred when multiple parties are involved. The homeowner suffered roof damage due to Hurricane Irma. A claim was submitted to the insurer, and the insurance company agreed to release a portion of the money to allow the roofing contractor to begin work. The roofer finished a portion of the job.

When an insurer violates its own obligations

Florida homeowners facing damage from Hurricane Irma may also be struggling with their insurance companies. Unfortunately, some insurers might delay or deny payment for a legitimate claim. In some cases, this denial violates the terms in the company's own insurance policy. When an insurance company fails to act in a reasonable manner during the processing, investigation or payment of a valid claim on a policy, the homeowner may have the right to pursue a claim for bad faith against the insurance company.

Given the position of trust that insurers hold, they have an obligation to act in good faith and deal fairly with insurance customers. Many customers have suffered significant losses to their family homes due to the devastation of hurricanes like Irma. In Florida, insurance companies are required by statute to deal fairly and honestly with those they insure. When they deny benefits that were supposed to be covered under an insurance policy, the policyholder may be able to file suit against the company for dealing in bad faith.

Irma insured losses estimated at $10.45 billion

The CFO of Citizens Property Insurance has said the insurer is incredibly strong financially despite handling more than 70,000 claims related to Hurricane Irma, which hit Florida during September 2017. In total, the company has sustained losses in the amount of $1.81 billion related to Irma. Approximately 16 percent of Citizens' 442,629 policies had claims related to the hurricane.

Citizens is a state-backed insurer. In settling claims from Irma, the company has turned to the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund for $534.7 million in funds and has received $126.4 million from private reinsurance organizations. In touting the company's strength, the CFO of Citizens highlighted its $2.2 billion in Hurricane Catastrophe Fund coverage and its surplus funds of $6.5 billion. This is a strong position with two months remaining in the hurricane season for 2018.

Tips for handling a homeowner's insurance claim

One of the best things that a homeowner can do is to purchase insurance on their investment. Not only does it protect the structure, the policy can offer a lot of other benefits and coverages. It is imperative that anyone with this type of insurance knows some basic points.

It is a good idea to grab your policy and read over it. One of the primary considerations that you will have is the deductible and coverage limits. This very important information can have a big impact on what you are able to do when you make a claim.

Program aims to support Florida homeowners with hurricane damage

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, some hurricane assistance is available to residents whose homes were damaged by 2017's Hurricane Irma. The $616 million program is making funds available to low-income residents in specified counties. The first counties eligible for the funds are Duval, Monroe, Broward, Collier, Lee, Miami-Dade, Brevard, Orange, Polk and Volusia. In addition, people in some parts of DeSoto, Bradford, Clay and Flagler counties are eligible for assistance from this state program.

The department announced the launch of its Rebuild Florida center based in Marathon and also began accepting online applications for the hurricane relief program. It aims to connect people in Florida who suffered hurricane damage to federal disaster-relief funding available to help repair damaged homes. Announced jointly by Florida's governor and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the project aims to provide support for low-income residents in communities that were particularly devastated by the September 2017 hurricane. Seniors, people with disabilities and families with young children are among the residents prioritized for assistance.

Insurance delays plague Florida homeowners 1 year after Irma

An emergency declaration issued by Gov. Rick Scott after Hurricane Irma allowed insurance companies to lower their hiring standards for insurance adjusters. The loosened regulations were meant to speed up the evaluation of hurricane damage and claims processing. One year after the serious storm, thousands of policy holders continue to wait for money, and many people blame inexperienced adjusters for the widespread delays.

The manager of the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters acknowledged that adjuster mistakes have worsened the backlog of insurance problems. A spokesman from the state's largest insurer of windstorm damage said that ill-trained adjusters should not bear all of the blame. High construction costs and shortages of skilled labor have ground many claims to a halt.

How to get ready to file insurance claims following a hurricane

When a hurricane strikes in Florida or any other state, it could cause major property damage. To be reimbursed for a portion or all of the cost of the damage, it may be necessary to file an insurance claim. Prior to a hurricane making landfall, residents in its path can take steps to be ready to show that the storm caused the damage in question. One step is taking pictures of the home and the contents within it.

Ideally, the photos will show the condition of the walls, ceiling and floors in each room. It should also document the condition of the roof and siding as well. It is also a good idea to review a policy ahead of time to be sure what it does and doesn't cover. The policy will also likely have a phone number or other contact information that's necessary to begin the process of filing a claim.

What homeowners insurance will likely cover

Homeowners insurance can help those who have been impacted by a natural disaster make up for some financial losses. However, Florida residents may not necessarily be covered for all disasters, even if they have a homeowners insurance policy. A Consumer Reports survey found that 45 percent of those in the path of Hurricane Irma experienced property damage. If a home cannot be lived in after a storm, a homeowners policy will generally cover living expenses such as paying for a motel.

It should also help to cover any losses related to vandalism and looting after a storm. A renters insurance policy will likely help to cover such losses as well. However, homeowners insurance policies generally won't cover damage related to a flood or other types of water damage. Damage that occurs for other reasons could also be excluded from a policy, so it may be a good idea to contact an insurance agent to verify what a specific policy does and doesn't cover.

After home damage, don’t wait to get the repairs done right

As a property owner, you know how important it is to get repairs done quickly and correctly after any kind of serious damage. Damage may occur after a natural disaster, or because of a malfunctioning or broken appliance or any number of other reasons.

However, when it comes to working with the insurer who carries your homeowner's policy, it is often a lengthy process. This is no accident. Insurance providers understand that they can usually get away with paying less for a claim if they make the policyholder wait and jump through many hoops before repairs are finished.

Lawsuit filed against insurer due to Hurrican Irma damage

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma caused billions of dollars in damage throughout Florida and other areas of the South. Nearly a year after the hurricane hit, some people are continuing to have damage claims paid by their insurers. In one case, a homeowner filed a lawsuit in state court.

In a complaint filed on August 15, 2018, a Miami homeowner sued his insurer for unpaid claims for damage due to Irma. The complaint alleges that the policy was paid and in force at the time the storm hit, that claims were filed with the insurer and that the insurer has failed or refused to pay the claim in full. In particular, the homeowner claims that repairs for the roofing have not been paid in full as well as other remedial repairs.

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