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Tips From a Miami Property Insurance Lawyer: Understanding Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

Mon Jan 17th, 2022 on     Property Insurance,    

If you own a home, you more than likely have that home insured with a homeowner’s insurance policy. Most people purchase their policy without even really considering what the insurance covers and how the claims process works. They only find out what it doesn’t cover when they have a claim denied. Our Miami property insurance lawyer offers tips on understanding your homeowner’s insurance policy so that you can ensure you are well covered when the unexpected occurs. 

Declaration Page

One of the most important parts of your insurance policy to familiarize yourself with is the “Declarations Page.” Every insurance policy has a Declarations Page which states the type and amount of coverage you have and its cost. It is a summary of the most important information contained in the homeowner’s policy. A typical Declarations Page will include:

  • Important Names & Dates: Your (the owners) name, the insurance company’s name, the name of any lienholder, and the policy effective date will be listed. Also listed will be the date when the policy needs to be renewed, as well as the insured property’s address.
  • Premium Paid: The amount paid for the insurance during the insured time period will be posted. 
  • Deductibles: A deductible is an amount you will have to pay towards any repairs that are made under a claim that you file. 
  • Coverage Summary: A summary of what the policy covers will be listed on the Declarations Page. It may not include any additional policies or riders that you purchased.

Floods & Tornadoes

Living in Florida, we are surrounded by water, therefore it would be natural to assume that all homeowner’s policies throughout the state provide coverage for damages caused by a flood. However, unless you live in an area designated as a flood zone by The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) you are not required to have flood insurance. Most homeowner’s policies will not include it and you will need to purchase it separately. 

Tornadoes are an unfortunate reality in Florida as well. Unlike floods, damages caused by tornadoes are typically covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy. There are exceptions to this, so it is a good idea to check your policy to make sure you do not need a separate policy for tornado damage.

Deductibles

It happens every day- someone goes to make a claim under their homeowner’s policy for damage to their property only to find out they have a significant deductible which must be met before the insurance company will pay. Other people choose a policy with a higher deductible so that their premiums will be lower. Each policy is different and you should make yourself familiar with the deductibles required by your insurance company. Keep in mind, your deductible may be a dollar amount or it could be percentage-based. 

Whatever your deductible is, the insurance company will typically subtract the amount of your deductible from the approved claim amount. For example, if your insurance company approves a claim for $12,000, and you have a $2,000 deductible, your insurance company will pay $10,000 while you are responsible for paying the remaining $2,000.

There is not one standard deductible for all claims. The amount will vary according to the loss that is being claimed. For example, your deductible may be different for a roof replacement than it is for damage caused by a burst pipe. 

Policy Limits

Your insurance policy will also state what your policy limits are. The limit is the maximum amount your insurance policy will pay towards a covered claim. Limits vary according to what is being covered and the type of policy. If you are not sure what your limits are, a Miami property insurance lawyer can help explain your policy terms to you.

Attorney’s Fees

When a dispute arises between you and your insurance company, you may be tempted to battle alone. Instead, you should seek the advice of a Miami property insurance lawyer. If a court order or decree is issued against your insurance company, there is a Florida statute that enables you to recoup “reasonable” attorney’s fees.

Replacement Cost vs. Cash Value

It is important to know whether your policy offers coverage for replacement cost or cash value coverage. Replacement costs mean that the insurance company will pay you what it costs to replace an item, while cash value means that the insurance company will pay you what the value of the item was when it was destroyed/damaged. This is especially important to look at considering how much property values have increased over the last two years. If your home was to be destroyed by fire or another disaster, could you afford to replace what you have now if you only received the cash value from the insurance company?

Speak With A Miami Property Insurance Lawyer at Ver Ploeg & Marino

Finding out your property damage isn’t covered by your homeowner’s policy is a terrible feeling. Be proactive and know what your policy covers and other important details, such as the amount of your deductible for certain types of damage. If you have questions about your policy, or if your insurance company is denying your rightful claim, contact a Miami property insurance lawyer at Ver Ploeg & Marino for assistance. Our lawyers are well-respected in their industry and represent policyholders that have been wronged by their insurance company. You may reach us via our contact page.

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