While most individuals and families have one or more forms of insurance coverage, many policyholders are unsure of their policies’ scope of coverage, applicable exclusions, policy limits, pre-conditions for payment of a claim, and other important provisions. Although the prospect of carefully reading the many pages of small font that comprise a policy might seem like a daunting task, knowledge regarding your contractual rights and duties is essential to obtaining the fullest compensation under an insurance policy.
Many people have multiple forms of coverage, such as homeowner’s, commercial casualty and property damage, long-term disability, auto, and other forms of insurance. The specific legal issues and claims challenges that must be overcome when seeking insurance benefits will depend on the type of policy, cause of loss, value of claim, and many other factors. This blog post offers information to debunk common myths about homeowner’s policies in Florida.
Myth #1: Retaining an attorney to assist with getting your home repaired after a hurricane or fire will simply deplete the funds available to repair or rebuild your home.
While a public adjuster or contractor can assist you in obtaining the value of your claim, an attorney may also seek compensation for extra-contractual damages, such as attorney’s fees, emotional distress, and punitive damages depending on the circumstances. Since an attorney might be able to pursue damages that go beyond the benefits promised under your policy, there is no reason to assume that legal representation will result in reduced funds to repair your home.
Myth #2: The decision to hire an attorney will result in your insurance being cancelled or your rate being increased.
Under Florida law, homeowner’s insurance carriers are not permitted to take the punitive step of cancelling your policy or increasing your premium because you retain an attorney to pursue a valid claim for property damage or insurance bad faith.
Myth #3: The high cost of retaining legal representation in a Florida insurance claims dispute makes it impractical for most policyholders to hire an attorney.
Reputable insurance claims lawyers in Florida generally do not ask for money up front. Our Miami insurance claims law firm typically works on a contingency fee basis when representing policyholders in breach of contract or bad faith lawsuits. However, every situation is unique, so you should inquire about billing arrangements prior to executing a retainer agreement with a law firm.
Myth #4 Public adjusters provide a better option for pursing a homeowner’s claims dispute in Florida than attorneys.
Public adjusters can help you determine the value of your claim and submit a sworn proof of lost, but only attorneys can represent you in a lawsuit against an insurer for a denied claim. Whether you are suing to obtain the monetary value of damage to your home or to seek non-contract damages for bad faith conduct by your insurer, civil litigation to obtain damages can only be pursued by a licensed insurance claims attorney.
If you have questions about your insurance coverage or pursuing an insurance claim in Florida, we invite you to contact us to speak with an experienced Miami insurance claims lawyer. 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.