This is the final installment of our three-part blog post that provides responses to common inquiries of homeowners when their homes are seriously damaged by a hurricane. At the Florida insurance claims law firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, we are persuasive advocates for policyholders whose claims are unreasonably delayed, denied or lowballed by insurance carriers. Hurricanes can be one of the most devastating perils, so policyholders count on their insurance carrier to fulfill its obligations in good faith when an insured submits a property damage claim. If you have further questions after reviewing this blog, we invite you to contact our law firm for more specific information.
What are my basis duties and rights under insurance policies relevant to damage caused by a hurricane?
While a detailed review of your policies and inspection of the damage to your home is necessary to fully advise you of your rights and obligations in a particular situation, we have provided some general principles and observations.
Flood Insurance: The bulk of flood insurance policies are issued pursuant to the federal flood insurance program. Although the insurance company that handles your basic homeowners insurance may have issued your flood insurance, most flood insurance policies are issued through the federal “write your own” policy program. There are strict requirements that policyholders need to satisfy to recover compensation for their property damage under such a policy. Under this program, your homeowner’s insurance carrier may be a mere administrator of the claim even if your carrier adjusts your loss. Flood insurance policies offer fairly limited coverage, which typically includes limited replacement coverage for structural damage and actual cash value for personal property. This coverage is for more limited than under a standard Florida homeowners policy. Along with more limited coverage, your rights also are more limited under write your own flood policy because litigation over coverage disputes must be pursued in federal court where an insured will not have the right to a jury trial.
Windstorm Insurance Coverage: Windstorm policies in Florida are issued by Citizens Insurance Company which is Florida’s quasi-public insurer of last resort. These policies extend to damage caused by windstorms when such coverage is excluded by a property owner’s homeowners policy. When you purchase a windstorm policy from Citizens, it only covers rain that damages the interior of the home if it is caused by wind. In other words, wind must cause a breach such as a blown out window to cover damaged caused by rain.
Standard Homeowners Policy: As a general rule, your standard homeowners policy should cover the majority of types of damage caused by a hurricane with the exception of certain types of water damage. Assuming your homeowners policy covers wind, which is usually the case, both wind and rain damage will be within the scope of coverage. Some policies include language excluding “wind driven rain”, this rain refers to rain that penetrates the exterior of the home without a breech in the protective envelope of the home. Most policies exclude flooding and storm surge from hurricanes.
Do policyholders need a Florida homeowners insurance lawyer?
While not every insurance claim related to hurricane damage requires filing a lawsuit, most policyholders can benefit from at least obtaining legal advice. If your insurance company refuses to return your calls, makes a ludicrous offer or denies your claim without reasonable justification, an experienced Miami property damage claims attorney can advise you regarding your rights and options. If the attorney is unable to negotiate an acceptable settlement with the insurance company, the attorney might file a lawsuit for breach of contract and/or insurance bad faith.
If you have questions about Miami-Dade hurricane insurance claims attorney, you are welcome to contact my Miami hurricane insurance claims law firm. 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.