Insurer’s Use of Faulty Maintenance Allegations to Deny Claims

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

All property damage policies covering homes require that homeowners perform appropriate maintenance on their home.  When deteriorating conditions occur or worsen because homeowners ignore basic upkeep and allow weather and other factors to get a foothold, this lack of maintenance can result in a homeowner’s insurance claim being denied.  Policyholders can better determine what upkeep must be performed by understanding the “useful life” of a home as well as the components and systems within a home. Guidelines from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) provides a reliable source for evaluating the longevity of homes and their various components. 

A few examples of the useful life of components in a home provided by the NAHB include:

  • Kitchen and Bathroom Countertops: Countertops in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas of a home made out of cultured marble have a fairly short useful life, which is estimated at about twenty years.  By contrast, natural stone countertops can last as long as the home.
  • Garages: Generally, the garage of a home will have an anticipated useful life of about ten to fifteen years.   Twenty years typically is considered appropriate in terms of the duration of light inserts.
  • Roofs: The expected duration of a roof will depend on the materials used in its construction.  Wood shake shingles will last thirty years whereas fiber shingles are projected to last 25 years.  Cement shingles have the shortest life expectation, which is only twenty years.  By contrast copper, slate or clay roofs are estimated to last fifty years.

Other guides to the useful life of components used in building a home include Mr. Appliance for appliances and NACHI’s Standard Estimated Life Expectancy Chart for Home, which is published by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, which provides similar information about home materials, components, appliances, and products.  Examples of useful life estimates for other items indicated in these guides include the following:

  • Electric Ranges            13-16 years
  • Washing Machines        8-12 years
  • Trash Compactors         7-11 years
  • Microwaves                   5-8 years
  • Dishwashers                  9 -12 years
  • Exterior Paint               10-15 years
  • Stains                             3-8 years
  • Swamp Cooler              5-15 years
  • Bathroom Cabinets       50+ years

Because the range of the estimated life of these components of a home can vary significantly, policyholders should recognize there is a lot of room for an adjuster that conducts an inspections to shade damage estimates in a way that favors the insurance company.

Roof damage claims provide an expensive form of storm damage that insurers often try to avoid paying based on allegations of the insured’s failure to perform necessary maintenance.  An insurance company adjuster might go on the roof and claim that damage was caused by pooling water that collected because pine needles collected on the roof.  The adjuster might also offer a lack of missing tiles on the roof as evidence supporting the conclusion that the water damage was caused by the failure to clear debris (pine needles) from the roof rather than the storm.

Ultimately, insurance companies maximize profits by denying claims or minimizing payouts.  This means that you should have someone on your side who has your best interest in mind, such as a public adjuster or insurance claims lawyer.  However, a public adjuster cannot represent you if you need to file a lawsuit against your insurance company.

Our Miami insurance claims law firm invites you to contact us if you are having difficulties with your insurance company.  Florida insurance claims lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo handles 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.

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