Important Issues in Florida Fire Insurance Claims [Part II]

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

This is the second installment in our three-part blog post discussing common issues that can arise in the context of a fire insurance claims dispute.  (Click to read Part I) The risk of an insurance carrier denying a claim based on allegations of misfeasance by the insured is much higher with a fire damage claim than many other types of claims.  The reason for this increased risk is that fires caused by sources other than arson typically will clearly be covered under the policy.  The more narrow grounds for contending that fire damage is not covered when compared to something like wind damage means that the insurer will justify denial of the claim based on fraud (concerning the items lost or their value or arson in terms of the cause of the fire).  

What do you do if your insurance company denied your claim because you cannot “prove” the items lost?

Insurance companies frequently will ask their insured to furnish receipts, credit card statements, cancelled checks, photos and other documents to establish the identity of items that were lost and/or their value.  However, you may be like many other policyholders who no longer have these types of evidence because they were destroyed in the fire.  However, you may not have a legal duty to “prove” the items and value of what was destroyed.  The obligation of an insured is to state what personal property is being claimed and the estimated value of those items.  If the insurance company disputes these claims, the insurance company has the burden of establishing that the insured is misrepresenting his or her loss.

How can you afford the costs associated with paying an attorney and pursuing a lawsuit?

Our law firm works on a contingency fee basis when representing property owners involved in coverage disputes and insurance bad faith claims against insurance companies. This billing arrangement means that typically our law firm advances the costs associated with the claim while any legal fees are contingent on our obtaining a recovery.  No recovery, no fees.

Do insurance companies fight fire damage claims more than other types of claims?

Insurance companies have a number of reasons to aggressively dispute fire damage claims.  While hurricanes, burst pipes, hail and other damage claims can be subject to many potential exclusions that allow an insurance carrier to contest liability, fire claims are much less likely to be covered by potential exclusions.  This more limited range of potential exclusions motivates insurers to be more aggressive in asserting available defenses. Another reason insurers are particularly forceful in disputing fire insurance claims is that the average cost of fire claims tend to be comparatively high.  

Is your insurance company’s liability limited to damage caused by the fire or will smoke and water damage be covered also?

Smoke from a fire and water used to extinguish the fire are part and parcel of your fire damage claim.  If your home and possessions inside the home are covered for fire loss, protection also will exist for damage from these other harmful forces that damage property during a fire or in extinguishing the fire.

You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].

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