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In many cases, property insurance claims are denied because the insurance carrier argues that the policyholder failed to provide “timely notice of the loss” — even in extreme situations involving hurricane damage. Lack of prompt notice is a common excuse justifying claim denial, but it can be somewhat confusing and stressful for policyholders — after all, at what point does a delay go from reasonable-to-unreasonable?
Given the complexity of prompt notice issues, we encourage you to contact an experienced Miami insurance claim lawyer here at Ver Ploeg & Marino, P.A. for guidance. We are committed to thorough, client-focused advocacy. Our team will help you navigate the dispute and secure the benefits you deserve.
It’s worth noting that Florida law is relatively policyholder-friendly. Though you should always seek to provide notice without delay, minor (and sometimes even major) delays do not necessarily justify a claim denial. There are a number of persuasive arguments you can make to overcome the insurance carrier’s excuses.
Let’s take a closer look at prompt notice as a concept under Florida law.
Prompt Notice Requirements Under Florida Law
In Florida, property insurance policies require prompt notice of the claim to the insurance carrier. Failure to provide prompt notice will result in a forfeiture of benefits that might otherwise have been available.
There are two aspects to a violation of the prompt notice requirement:
- Lack of timely notice of the claim to the insurance carrier, and
- The insurance carrier was prejudiced due to the delay.
Whether notice was timely (and whether it prejudiced the insurance carrier) is a factual issue that depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. There is no “bright line” rule for determining whether notice was prompt.
Notably, notice can be delayed so long as it does not prejudice the insurance carrier. For example, if the insurance carrier’s investigation into the claim is not interfered with or made inaccurate by the delay, then you could still secure benefits under your property insurance policy.
Events Triggering the Notice Requirement
It’s worth noting that a significant delay — even a several years-long delay — may not violate the prompt notice requirement under certain circumstances. Specifically, if the delay was due to the fact that the property damage was not “knowable” until a later date, then prompt notice may not be an issue.
For example, suppose that there is water damage to the exterior portion of your home. The water damage has not yet spread to the rest of the home, however, and is not visible as it is “covered up” by bushes. Only two years later, once the water damage has spread to a visible area of the exterior, are you made aware of the damage. If you submit notice of the claim after two years, it cannot be said to violate the prompt notice requirement.
Claim Denial is Not Always Reasonable
When the insurance carrier denies a claim, it’s not always justified by the facts. In fact, insurers often deny claims without proper justification in the hopes that the policyholder will be preoccupied with other issues and will simply choose not to pursue the claim any further.
As such, it’s important not to simply resign yourself to their adverse decision. Get in touch with a qualified attorney for a comprehensive evaluation of your claim, and whether you can challenge the insurer’s decision.
Strategies for Avoiding Prompt Notice Issues
To minimize the likelihood of a prompt notice issue, there are a number of steps you can take:
- Submit a claim notice to your insurance carrier with as little delay as possible. If necessary, when you believe their “may” be a claim (even if you’re not sure), investigate the property to determine whether there is damage;
- Gather evidence to submit to your insurance carrier. This can be video evidence or photos of the damage. It may be worth getting contact information from those who may have witnessed the damage firsthand;
- Preserving physical evidence of the property damage (i.e., if there is water damage, preserve a section of the wall that was damaged); and
- Ask those professionals who are repairing the property damage to take notes (and to give you a copy of said notes) so that they can be submitted as evidence to the insurance carrier.
These steps not only minimize the delay in providing notice to the insurance carrier but will also minimize any “prejudice” that the insurance carrier would face from a delay (as there would be sufficient evidence for them to make a claim determination).
Contact a Miami Insurance Claim Lawyer at Ver Ploeg & Marino, P.A. for Assistance
If you’ve submitted a claim for property insurance coverage and have had the claim denied by your insurance provider on the basis that you submitted notice of your claim “too late,” then it’s important that you not resign yourself to this adverse decision. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to challenge the insurance provider and secure the benefits you’re owed under your policy.
We can help.
Here at Ver Ploeg & Marino, P.A., our attorneys have decades of experience working with policyholders, helping them to challenge the adverse decisions of their insurance providers, and — where necessary — helping them to litigate the case. Over the years, we have developed a network of experts who provide detailed assessments of the underlying insurance issues, giving us significant insight into the case at hand and how best to approach it.
Unlike many of our competitors, we invest significant time, resources, and attention to each of our clients. It is our belief that effective advocacy depends on close engagement with the client from an early stage.Share