If you are like most people throughout the United States, you have multiple insurance policies that include some or all of the following: homeowners’, automobile, disability, business coverage, health coverage and other types of insurance. When you suffer a significant loss because of a hurricane, burst pipe or other peril, the experience can be extremely frustrating because most people have limited experience pursuing a large insurance claim. Insurance companies rely on a range of maneuvers to postpone payment or to lowball claims, which include using complex policy language that they draft to delay or deny payment and significantly underestimating the value of claims.
Delay is particularly common because insurance companies like banks and other financial institutions generate much of their profits through investments in venture capital, real estate, stocks and bonds. There is a direct correlation between the amount of money that insurance companies have to invest and their profitability. This means that insurance companies do not have to outright deny a claim to increase their revenue. Your insurance company is making money if it can keep dollars invested that should be paid out to you as the company’s insured at an earlier point in time.
While insurance companies often engage in tactics that financially benefit the insurer at the expense of policyholders, the best way to protect your interests is to understand your rights and responsibilities under Florida law and the terms of your policy. The insurance company has a distinct advantage in the insured-insurer relationship because the insurer writes the policy, interprets the policy, evaluates your claim and holds the money. Given the extent of the advantage held by the insurance company, your ability to level the playing field depends on understanding your obligations and rights as well as seeking professional assistance when necessary. This two-part blog post provides an overview of some of the things your insurance company does not want you to know.
If the policy language is unclear, misleading or ambiguous, any ambiguity in the language will be construed against the insurance company by a judge.
We indicated above that the insurance company has a distinct advantage when dealing with a customer because the insurer is solely responsible for drafting the terms of the policy. However, this initial advantage can come back to bite the insurer when the policy language is unclear. An insurance company is really just a specialized type of contract, so basic contract interpretation principles apply. One of the most fundamental of these contract interpretation rules is that a judge generally should construe ambiguity in a contract against the party that drafted the agreement. This means that if you have to take your insurance company to court to get your claim paid, the court might be inclined to accept your interpretation of language in the policy rather than that of the insurance company.
These are only a few of the key things insurance companies would prefer the average consumer not know when stonewalling an insured’s claim. If an insurance company refuses to handle your claim fairly, you should consider speaking to an experienced Florida property damage attorney. 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.