Important Questions about Insurance Coverage for Florida Homeowners

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

This article is designed to answer many questions we routinely hear form policyholders about homeowner’s insurance. This blog is intended to arm homeowners with information necessary to obtain the maximum value from their homeowner’s coverage.  While we have tried to answer many important questions, the best way to get specific answers relevant to your unique situation is to contact our law firm and speak with an experienced Miami insurance claims attorney.

How can I determine if my policy provides coverage for losses caused by extreme weather?

Losses resulting from hurricanes, hail and severe windstorms are covered under most homeowner’s policies.  If your home is damaged by a flood, for example, the loss will not be covered unless you have obtained separate coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program.  Similarly, coverage for damage caused by the accumulation of snow and ice might necessitate payment of additional coverage.

Is my insurer entitled to inspect my home after I make a claim?

Yes.  Homeowner’s polices require policyholders to cooperate during the adjustment process, so the insurer can determine the extent of the damage, cause of the loss, and appropriate remedial strategies.  Typically, the person the insurer sends to conduct an inspection will contact you to arrange an appointment especially if the inspection will include the inside of the premises.  The representative of the insurer may provide “loss control recommendations.”  When such recommendations are provided, the insured should implement these measures because all policyholders have a duty to mitigate damages under a policy.

Am I entitled to receive my entire premium amount if I cancel my policy during the coverage term?

The insurer may have the right to keep a portion or all of the premium depending on the terms of the policy.  Some policies require the insured to pay a certain minimum premium or specify that the full premium is “earned.”  Certain policies also require an insured who changes his or her insurance carrier mid-term to pay a “short-rate” penalty. 

Do I need special coverage if I travel frequently for extended periods?

Standard homeowner’s policies generally contain an exclusion that applies if the home is going to be vacant for an extended period like 30-60 days.  If you travel for extended periods or might need time to secure a new tenant for a rental property, you might want to purchase special coverage for losses that occur during extended periods of vacancy.  Insurers require an endorsement and special premium for this coverage because homes are more vulnerable to vandalism when they are clearly empty.  Further, the homeowner is in a better position to cope with a peril that causes loss when residing on the premises.  The increased ability of a homeowner to prevent a loss or mitigate the extent of the damage explains the rationale for the vacancy exclusion.

How should a consumer proceed in terms of evaluating the viability of an insurance company?

When a major catastrophe occurs, such as a hurricane, insurance companies are inundated with a plethora of claims.  A large influx of claims can threaten the financial viability of an insurance company.  However, there are a number of factors that you can consider when determining whether an insurer will be able to pay your claim in such a situation.  These factors include:

  • Risk-to-Capital:  This evaluative approach weighs the risk carried by an insurer against its assets.  The risk is based on the insurer’s investments and existing policies.  If an insurer’s score based on this standard falls below 200, regulatory authorities will step in.  The insurer is more financially stable if it has a higher risk-to-capital score.
  • Leverage: If the insurer has more cash available to pay claims, the insurer will be less likely to face cash-flow issues when presented with multiple claims arising from the same major event.
  • Reserves: Florida law requires that insurance companies have at least $10 million put aside to handle emergencies, but certain industry experts suggest that an insurer should have at least $25 to $30 million in reserves.

When your insurance company treats you unfairly or fails to process and pay your claim in a timely manner, you might have a legal claim for financial compensation.  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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