Homeowners insurance provides an indispensable form of security against the loss of the family home, which constitutes one of the most valuable assets for many Florida families. Whether your home is in jeopardy because of a judgment or settlement related to an injury on the premises or damage to your home from a covered peril, homeowners coverage can prevent financial ruin. Although homeowners coverage can protect families, these policies often require an insured to take certain actions. Failure to comply with these actions can delay payment of a claim or result in rejection of the claim by the insurance carrier.
If you must submit a claim to your homeowners carrier, the first priority will be providing prompt notice to your insurance company. Typically, homeowners policies require that notice be provided as soon as reasonably possible. This means that any form of delay might be used by your insurance company to stall payment or to justify refusing to cover the claim. While you are a customer of your insurance company, your insurer has strong financial incentives to use any plausible excuse to deny your claim.
While a delay in providing notice will not automatically justify denial of a claim, Florida law imposes a presumption of prejudice when the insured fails to comply with the policy terms in providing notice. Although the presumption of prejudice can be rebutted, policyholders can expect the insurance company to make things difficult if notice of the loss is not provided in a timely fashion. While the specific policy provisions may vary, some of the information the homeowner will typically be asked to provide when filing a third party liability claim includes:
- The name of the insured and the policy number
- Harm resulting from the incident which includes property damage or personal injury
- Contact and identity information of the person claiming to have suffered harm
- Information about the nature, date, time and location of the accident
- Information regarding any witnesses to the accident
Because policy conditions and terms can vary, a homeowner needs to carefully review the entire policy to ensure that the insured complies with all deadlines and post-loss conditions. Policyholders should keep meticulous records regarding performance of any conditions under the policy and all communications with the insurance company. These notes might later be vital if the insurance company unjustifiably denies the claim or otherwise does not treat the insured fairly and fulfill the insurer’s obligations under the policy.
There are other duties that a homeowners policy often imposes on an insured when making a claim, such as:
- Appearing at depositions and court dates
- Completing paperwork related to the claim
- Cooperating with the insurance company investigation of the claim
- Avoiding the destruction of evidence and providing evidence reasonably obtainable
If someone files a lawsuit against you for injuries incurred on your property, you also might want to seek legal advice regarding whether the personal injury claim is covered. Homeowners coverage does not necessarily extend to every accident or injury on your property. Homeowners insurance does not cover injuries incurred while engaging in commercial activity or intentional acts like an assault or battery.
If you have questions about Florida homeowners insurance claims, you are welcome to contact my Miami insurance 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.