Important Information Policyholders Need to Know about Homeowner's Insurance & Disasters [Part II]

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

This is Part II of our two-part blog post discussing important information that many people do not know about their homeowner's insurance coverage.  Every insurance claim dispute involves its own unique facts and issues.  While we have attempted to discuss many issues, the best way to get more specific information about your situation is to speak with an experienced Miami insurance attorney.

Amount of Homeowner's Insurance One Should Purchase

As a starting point, most lenders will require that a homebuyer purchase homeowner's insurance coverage with a limit equal to at least 80 percent of the cost of rebuilding the home.  While homeowners might want to purchase additional coverage, the most important task in determining the appropriate policy limit is to calculate the cost to replace or repair the home and belongings inside the home.

Contractor Fraud Following a Natural Disaster

When a major disaster occurs like a hurricane, contractor and home repair scams sprout up because contractor services are in high demand.  These scams can harm a homeowner in a variety of ways that include substandard repairs and work that is not covered by insurance.  Some steps policyholders can take to avoid homeowner scams include:

  • Searching for a Contractor: If you know other homeowners who have had similar work performed, a personal referral is a much better way to select a contractor than using the phonebook.  When you rely on a personal referral, you have the comfort of knowing the contractor has performed satisfactory work for others.  People that cannot obtain a personal referral might want to perform some due diligence online regarding feedback and reviews.  If a contractor comes to your door or contacts you directly, you should be especially cautious.
  • State Licensing: The contractor should be licensed by the state to prevent exploitation with substandard work.  A quick check with the state licensing board can confirm that a potential contractor is licensed and in good standing.
  • Multiple Estimates: When considering potential contractors, you should always get several estimates.  The high level of demand following a natural disaster can lead certain contractors to charge exorbitant fees.  If you have proposals from multiple contractors, this allows you to evaluate the fairness of potential pricing.

Homeowner's Insurance & Termite Damage

A type of property damage often overlooked by many homeowners involves infestation of pests like rodents and termites.  This oversight might be based on a belief that such damage is covered or that only minor damage can be caused by this type of infestation.  In reality, termites and other vermin can render a home unlivable and/or create the need for costly structural repairs.

Damage caused by termites and other pests generally will not be covered by a basic homeowner's policy except in the narrow circumstance of complete destruction of your home.  Separate termite coverage needs to be purchased to protect from damage caused by infestation from vermin.  The coverage generally will require annual inspections.  These policies typically provide that the house will remain termite free during the term of the termite policy.

Benefits of Representation by a Seasoned Insurance Attorney

Insurance companies frequently deny legitimate claims by policyholders and hope that homeowners will not obtain legal representation.  Insurance companies recognize that they have distinct advantages in claims disputes against unrepresented parties.  An uninsured party will not be familiar with his or her legal rights and remedies, which include alternate dispute resolution options.  Insurers count on the fact that homeowners will make critical errors, such as failing to comply with mandatory conditions like submitting a sworn proof of loss.  Alternatively, an insured might forfeit their legal rights by running afoul of legal procedures and deadlines.  Policyholders who fail to initiate a lawsuit by filing a complaint within the timeframe of the statute of limitations usually forfeit all rights to pursue a lawsuit. 

My law firm represents policyholders in claims disputes 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.

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