When property owners suffer water damage caused by a plumbing problem like a broken pipe or other damage to their residence, these types of disasters can cause stress and confusion as insurance policyholders attempt to determine how to navigate the claims process and obtain the compensation they need after suffering damage to their residential or business property. Florida insurance claims attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo has provided a checklist of important steps to follow if you believe you have suffered property damage that is covered by your insurance.
Review the Terms of the Policy: Although an insurance policy can be dense and difficult to understand, you need to carefully review the types of covered losses and hazards, as well as other provisions of your policy. Some people read only the declarations page, but the more prudent alternative is to read the entire policy. If there are provisions or language that you find unclear, you should ask your insurance agent, public adjuster or an insurance claims attorney to explain any provisions that you do not understand.
Report the Loss: Policyholders promptly notify their insurance company of the loss. In some instances, written notice of the loss should be provided and forwarded to the insurance company. The notice should indicate the incident that caused the loss and possible damage experienced because of the incident.
Conduct an Inventory: A careful inventory must be conducted of any damage to your home or business along with the personal property inside the damaged structure. While it may be tempting to throw debris away or repair damage, you should generally abstain from discarding anything or performing repairs until an adjuster has inspected the property. When conducting your inventory, you should also take video footage of all property damage.
Mitigate Damages: Although you do not want to conduct significant repairs or discard debris before an adjuster has had a chance to inspect any property damage, most insurance policies require an insured to mitigate damages. If part of the roof of your home has caved in, you should use a tarp, plastic wrap or other form of temporary repair to prevent further damage. The cost of the temporary repairs implemented by a policyholder may be covered, so you should contact your adjuster and ask whether the cost of such repairs will be reimbursed.
Use Written Correspondence with the Insurance Company: While you should take notes regarding the details of telephone conversations with insurers, these telephone calls should be memorialized in writing. After talking to an adjuster, you should fax or mail a confirming letter summarizing the subject matter of the discussion. This form of written follow-up can prevent disagreements and misunderstandings later.
Demand Specific Supporting Policy Provisions: If your insurance company indicates that a particular hazard or type of damage is not covered by your policy, you should submit a written request that the insurer respond in writing with specific citation to the contract language the insurance company is relying on to support its position. This can provide valuable evidence later if the insurance company is taking an unreasonable position.
While there is no guarantee that your insurance company will honor its contractual duties even if you follow these steps, this checklist can improve your prospects when submitting a property damage claim. If the insurance company elects to wrongfully deny your claim or continues to stonewall, this type of correspondence can be useful when attempting to establish insurance bad faith. Florida property damage insurance claim lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo handles property damage claims against insurance companies in Miami and throughout Florida. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations. No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees. Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.