Check Insurance Applications Carefully Before a Policy is Issued

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
Founder of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.

When you purchase insurance, you may have to fill out a lengthy application with what seems like an inordinate amount of questions on it.  Alternatively, an insurance broker may contact you to sell you insurance, and they may ask you just a few questions before telling you that your coverage is in effect. Unfortunately, what may seem like a convenient courtesy at the time that the broker submits your insurance application for you could cause trouble later on, if the application that was submitted contains inaccurate information.

If you carry fire insurance and you submit a claim for damages after a fire destroys your home, you expect that you will be able to repair, rebuild, or relocate with the help of money paid to you by your insurance company. In the event that your claim was denied by your insurer, you would most likely be shocked, especially if their reason for denying your claim was that you had a dog.

If you are confused by this, you are probably wondering what having a dog has to do with fire risk. Rest assured that having a dog does not have an effect on fire risk. Unfortunately, a real person whose home was destroyed by fire is experiencing real difficulties in obtaining settlement of her claim for damages because she has a dog. The denial is not because the dog increases fire risk in any way, as it is because the insurance company supposedly did not know that the woman had a dog, and that her dog was a pit bull.

Surely, you would think, the insurance company would ask applicants whether they had pets and what kinds of pets they had on their insurance application, if the number or type of pets would affect the insurer’s willingness to issue a policy. Questions about pets are common on insurance applications, but in the unfortunate case of the woman from Long Island, that information was never included in her application. She bought her fire insurance from a broker, who sold her the policy over the phone. The broker asked her questions, which she answered, but she does not recall answering any questions about pets. She did not see a copy of her application until recently, when her claim was denied. The application indicates that she has no pets, but she knows that if she had been asked about pets, she would have answered that she did have a dog.

It is well established that when an insured files a claim, the insurance company will likely look for some reason to deny the claim. If there are discrepancies between information that was provided on the application and information that can be verified as being correct at the time the incident that led to the claim occurred, the insurance company will try to use those discrepancies to justify denying the claim without investigating why there may be a discrepancy. In order to prevent this from happening, double check your application before submitting it, and, if you speak with a broker, ask them to send you a copy of the application before they submit it so that you can verify its accuracy.

If you are having trouble settling your Florida Fire Damage Insurance Claim, I can help you. My Miami law firm represents policyholders in fire damage insurance claims disputes throughout Florida.  The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations.  No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees.  Call us at (305) 461-1095 or Toll Free, at 1-866-71-CLAIM.

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