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How To Communicate With Your Insurance Company

Fri Mar 8th, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

Communicating with your insurance company can be challenging, particularly if you are in the middle of a crisis and need to report a claim.  Your emotions may be running high and you may not remember everything that is said in your initial conversation with the adjuster. What is more, you may say things about your claim in the heat of the moment that may be inaccurate or uninformed, as you may not have received any damage estimates.  Keep in mind that your calls with your insurance company are most likely recorded, so you want to avoid coming across as too emotional or too eager to settle under the insurer’s terms.  As Miami insurance law attorneys, we know how insurance companies work.  From documenting all your communications, to having the right attitude, how you communicate with your insurance company can impact how your claim is resolved.  Document Your Communications The most important thing to remember is to document every communication with your insurance company in a notebook or folder so you can easily keep track of the status of your claim.  Start collecting receipts and damage estimates as well and keep all of your notes and documents together in one place.  You should also create a paper trial by confirming what your insurance company has said by sending them a quick follow-up e-mail or letter.  This helps to avoid any misunderstandings about representations or promises made, whether about timing of the claims process or more substantive discussions about damage estimates and […]

Homeowner Claims: Know Your Basic Rights

Thu Feb 28th, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

You may not know it, but if you have a Florida homeowner insurance policy, you have certain rights, as defined by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.  The FLOIR Bill of Rights sets forth a timeline for the claims process, as well as certain services you are entitled to.  The Bill of Rights also contains useful advice for claimants.  As a Miami Insurance law firm dedicated to representing the interests of policyholders, we are familiar with the Bill of Rights and the protections it outlines.  When to Expect a Response From Your Insurance Company When you report a claim to your insurance company, you have a right to receive an acknowledgment of the claim within 14 days.  Within 30 days after you submit a complete proof-of-loss statement to your insurance company, you have a right, upon written request, to receive confirmation that your claim is covered in full, partially covered, or denied, or receive a written statement that your claim is being investigated. Within 90 days, you have a right to receive full settlement payment for your claim or payment of the undisputed portion of your claim, or your insurance company’s denial of your claim. The Bill of Rights does state that there are exceptions to the timelines when conditions are “beyond your insurance company’s control.” What Services are Available to Assist You With Your Claim? Under most circumstances and subject to certain restrictions, you are entitled to free mediation of your disputed claim by the Florida Department of Financial […]

What Types of Insurance Should My Small Business Have?

Thu Feb 21st, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

There are many different types of insurance coverage available to small business owners.  Knowing what you need will depend on many factors, including the type of services or goods you provide, where your business is located, its corporate structure, and the applicable state laws.  As Miami Insurance Coverage Lawyers, we can help you navigate the many options, as well as evaluate whether your current coverage is adequate.  First, here’s a summary of the most common types of insurance for business owners.  General Liability Every business needs to have a liability insurance policy.  This policy, often referred to as The Commercial General Liability Policy (or “CGL”), provides coverage to a business for personal injury and property damage caused by the company’s operations or products, or personal injuries to third parties that occur on the company’s premises.  Many insurers use what is known as the standard Insurance Services Office CGL form.  Property If you own your office building or have business personal property, such as office equipment or computers, you should consider having a policy that will protect you in the event of fire or theft.  You may also want to consider including business interruption insurance to protect your earnings if the business is unable to operate because of property damage. Professional Liability This policy, also known as Errors and Omissions Insurance, provides defense and damages for failure to or improperly providing professional services.  This is different than your general liability policy.  Professional liability insurance applies to any professional firm, including lawyers, […]

Demystifying the Commercial General Liability Insurance Policy

Thu Feb 14th, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

A Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy protects your business from financial loss stemming from injuries or property damage caused by your operations (or products) or personal injuries to third parties that occur on the company’s premises. It covers non-professional negligent acts, while professional negligent acts (such as malpractice) are covered under a Professional Liability policy. In addition, injuries to employees on company property are covered by workers’ compensation, not the CGL policy. When issuing general liability policies, many insurers use standard forms published by the Insurance Services Office (“ISO”). In addition to the convenience of using standard forms, insurers are able to reduce their risk because much of the language contained in the forms has already been interpreted by the courts. Indeed, how a court interprets an insurance policy will be based in large part on the policy wording itself. CGL policies must therefore be read carefully, paying close attention to the specific language used.  Unfortunately, what the policy actually says is not always so straight-forward and clear, and there are certain aspects of CGL coverage that are often misunderstood. This post seeks to demystifies those areas. Duty to Defend First, the wording of the ISO CGL will not allow an insurer to simply tender its policy limit and not defend an insured. This may come into play when a catastrophic event occurs involving multiple injuries or losses.  The insurer cannot simply pay the policy limit and refuse to defend the claim. The insured’s duty to defend does not end […]

Federal Court Decision Clarifies Timing for Bringing Bad Faith Claims

Thu Feb 7th, 2019 on     Insurance Claims,    

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, has made clear that a five-year statute of limitations applies to bad faith claims in Florida. The case involved a policyholder’s bad faith claim against his automobile liability insurance provider for failing to settle a personal injury lawsuit. The insured had timely notified his carrier of a personal injury lawsuit brought against him involving an incident in which a passenger in his car suffered serious injuries after being ejected from the car. The insurer failed to settle the dispute and a jury returned a verdict well in excess of the insured’s coverage.  Insured Brings Bad Faith Claim Approximately four years and seven months after the $2.6 million judgment was entered against him, the insured filed a federal court claim against his insurer for failing to negotiate and settle the case in good faith. He also argued that the insurance company failed to advise him of settlement opportunities, warn him of the possibility of an excess judgment, adopt and implement standards for the proper investigation and handling of claims, and properly train its adjusters and claims personnel. Trial Court Dismisses Action as Time Barred The Florida trial court dismissed the case as time barred by the four-year statute of limitations for intentional torts (a category that includes assault, false imprisonment, slander). The court characterized the action as one for the breach of fiduciary duties, which is considered a tort. The insured appealed.     Bad Faith Claim Against Insurance Company […]

Liability Insurers Have a Duty to Defend

Thu Jan 31st, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

Miami Insurance Law Firm Liability insurance coverage is purchased to avoid the significant risks associated with a lawsuit, but insurance coverage does not always work out in a way that the policyholder might expect.  Insurers maximize their profits by minimizing their time investment and other costs.  It should therefore come as no surprise that liability insurers frequently deny coverage and skirt their plan-based responsibilities.  This can put the policyholder in an incredibly vulnerable position, particularly if they do not have the assets necessary to resolve their liabilities without coverage. Among the insurer’s responsibilities is the “duty to defend.”  Let’s take a closer look. Understanding the Duty to Defend Duty to Defend Requires Coverage Liability insurers are not required to step in and defend policyholders against third-party claims unless coverage would apply in the situation at-hand.  The legal duty only activates in situations where the insurer could be responsible for the damages. For example, suppose that you have purchased a marine liability insurance policy.  The policy precludes coverage in situations where you were intoxicated at the time of accident.  If your insurer is not “on the hook” for damages due to your intoxication, then they have no duty to defend you in litigation against the third-party claimant. Bad Faith Conduct In Florida, insurers may be held liable for their bad faith conduct in relation to the duty to defend.  Insurers may act in bad faith in a number of different ways, including the refusal to step in and defend their policyholder […]

Medical Devices and Health Insurance Denial

Thu Jan 24th, 2019 on     Health Insurance,    

Miami Health Insurance Lawyer Though healthcare insurance denials are common, many policyholders are shocked when they are denied benefits for having received a medical device at the behest of their treating physician.  In truth, healthcare insurers are built to deny as many claims as they can reasonably justify.  They profit and thrive on the expectation that you will not challenge their decision and that they will “get away” with not having to pay out the benefits that you might be owed. We can help. If you’ve had your healthcare insurance claim denied on the basis that your medical device is not covered by your policy, or for any other reason, then you may be entitled to challenge their initial decision and secure benefits.  Contact Ver Ploeg & Marino, P.A. for further assistance with your dispute. Let’s take a brief look at the basis for such denials. Medical Necessity Generally speaking, health insurers deny benefits for medical devices on the basis of medical necessity, which is a rather broad concept.  Every insurance policy is different, of course, and the definition of “medical necessity” can vary considerably from plan-to-plan.  Most share certain commonalities, however. Determining whether a device is medically necessary requires a comprehensive evaluation of factors: whether the use of such device is clinically appropriate, whether it has been provided in accordance with generally accepted standards of practice, and whether it is no more costly than competing devices or therapies that could produce an equivalent result. For example, suppose that you […]

Intentional Misconduct is Not Covered by Commercial General Liability Insurance

Thu Jan 17th, 2019 on     Insurance Law,    

Miami Insurance Law Firm If you’re being sued by a third-party due to them having suffered injuries in an accident that could implicate your commercial general liability (CGL) insurance coverage, then you may find yourself facing new and unexpected challenges. Insurers have a tendency to deny claims when they can just barely justify doing so, even if they are making bold and unsupported assumptions.  In the CGL insurance context, this often happens with regard to intentional misconduct.  If the insurer can paint your behavior as intentional misconduct, and not merely negligence or recklessness, then they can legitimately deny your claim and avoid having to payout. Intentional misconduct is typically not covered by CGL insurance.  As such, the key to recovering your benefits is in clearly establishing that the conduct at-issue does not demonstrate intent. Intent Can Be Difficult to Prove Unless the circumstances clearly indicate an intent to violate the law or otherwise cause harm, then the insurer may find that painting a picture of your conduct as intentional is quite difficult.  For example, suppose that the defendant slips and injures themselves in your retail store.  Your insurer is refusing to payout for the damages, however, because they believe that the injury was caused by your intentional misconduct — that you wanted to hurt the customer, so you spilled water on the floor to cause them to slip and fall.  In order for the insurer to prove that you intentionally caused the injuries, they’d have to find evidence of your […]

Concurrent Causation in Property Insurance Disputes

Thu Jan 10th, 2019 on     Property Insurance,    

Miami Property Insurance Lawyer In Florida, and elsewhere, property insurance policyholders frequently have their claims denied due to the existence of “concurrent causes” of loss.  A concurrent cause is one of multiple causes that contributed to the damages at-issue.  For example, if your house is damaged in a severe tropical storm, some of the losses may be due to water, and some due to wind.  The wind conditions and the water damage might each be reasonably defined as concurrent causes. Property insurance policyholders (i.e., homeowners, real estate developers, condo associations, small and large businesses, and more) may be put into a vulnerable position if their insurer denies a legitimate property insurance claim or pays out only a portion of the claim on the basis that there are concurrent causation issues. So, how might concurrent causation affect your own property insurance claims?  Let’s take a closer look. Florida Applies the Concurrent Causation Doctrine In Florida, the concurrent causation doctrine allows policyholders to recover for both covered and non-covered losses if they happen concurrently.  This prevents insurers from engaging in attempts to define some portion of your losses as non-covered (and therefore denying your claim on that basis), and only paying out the covered loss portion. For example, suppose that your home is damaged in a fire.  As a result, your water lines are damaged, which causes leakage and further losses to your home.  Even if your policy excludes water damage, but covers fire damage, you would be entitled to recover benefits […]

Experimental Treatments and Health Insurance Coverage

Fri Dec 28th, 2018 on     Health Insurance,    

Health insurance policyholders who are suffering from catastrophic or even life-threatening injuries, illness, and other medical conditions may find that their insurance carrier is not necessarily amenable to extending coverage to experimental treatments.  Though the outcome of an experimental treatment may not be certain, and though there may be concerns about efficacy, safety, and long-term health, there are many patients who are left with no other recourse. If your insurer has denied coverage for an experimental treatment that could fundamentally better your quality of life, or even save your life altogether, then you may be entitled to challenge their denial and obtain the benefits you deserve. Let’s explore the basics of medical necessity and health insurance policies. Medical Necessity, Cost-Effectiveness, and Other Concerns Private health insurance plans vary quite a bit.  Most insurance carriers offer health insurance coverage which requires that the policyholder demonstrate the “medical necessity” of their treatment in order to recover benefits.  There may be various exclusions, conditions that automatically qualify for benefits, etc., but medical necessity is often the underlying concept through which all benefits determinations are filtered. There is often no clear agreement about the meaning of medical necessity, however.  Some insurers will argue that “medical necessity” must involve an evaluation of cost-effectiveness as well.  Others will focus on the “need” aspect but may disagree that experimental treatment to improve a patient’s overall quality of life is medically necessary. Experimental Treatments Involve “Sliding Scale” Considerations As a general rule, experimental treatments are not clearly and […]

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