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Understanding Homeowners’ Insurance in Florida

Fri Apr 19th, 2019 on     Property Insurance,    

Floridians are well aware of the importance of homeowners’ insurance.  Planning ahead for the possibility of hurricanes, windstorms, sinkholes and other disasters, as well as individual losses such as home invasions or fires, can bring peace of mind and help minimize the disruption to your personal and professional lives. As Miami property insurance lawyers, we are experienced in assisting homeowners in maximizing their recovery following a loss.  The first step to a successful outcome for your claim is understanding what is covered under your policy and how the claims process works.

What Does My Policy Cover?

Generally, a homeowners’ insurance policy provides coverage against specific perils or events that cause damage to the property (such as fire, windstorm, theft) or the following:

  • Structure (the dwelling itself)
  • Other structures (such as sheds and fences)
  • Personal property (the contents of the structures)
  • Loss of use (also known as “Additional Living Expense,” which may pay some extra expenses if damage to your home prevents you from living there during repairs)
  • Personal liability (against a claim resulting from injury to others on your property)
  • Medical payments to others (for persons accidentally injured at your home, not included residents of the home)

Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover damage caused by windstorms, hurricanes and hail, unless you sign to waive the coverage.  Importantly, however, you cannot obtain new or additional coverage when a tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning has been issued for your area.  You shouldn’t wait until the last minute to purchase your policy, especially during hurricane season (June 1 – November 30).  While most homeowners’ policies exclude flood damage, you may qualify for flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, depending on the location of your home.  Nor are insurance companies required to automatically include sinkhole coverage

How Does the Claims Process Work?

If you have suffered a loss that is covered under your policy, you should first determine if the amount of the loss exceeds your policy’s deductible.  If so, you should report the loss to your insurance company as soon as possible.  Be sure to save all invoices and receipts for any repairs.  You have several options for pursuing your dispute, including non-binding mediation, or appraisal.    

What Documents Do I Need to Collect For My Claim?

We recommend completing a room-by-room inventory of your home, taking photographs of your personal property, and estimating the replacement cost of your property.

Preparedness is critical, so be sure to have the following information in a central, easily-accessible location:

  • Financial information (including bank statements)
  • Tax information (may be required to apply for loans)
  • Sources of income/assets
  • Vital insurance information (policy numbers, company contact information, deductible amounts)
  • Records of financial obligations, including mortgage statements, car payments, etc. (to qualify for income-based assistance following a disaster)

The more detailed documentation you can supply during the claims process, the fewer problems you are likely to encounter.

Let Miami Property Insurance Lawyers Help You With Your Property Claim Dispute   If your insurance company has unreasonably denied or delayed your claim or you are in  disagreement over the value of a loss, we welcome you to contact us for a consultation.  The experienced attorneys at Ver Ploeg & Marino have been representing  policyholders in complex residential property insurance claims disputes for over twenty (20) years. 

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