Important Issues in Florida Fire Insurance Claims [Part II]

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
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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).  Miami fire claims attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo invites you to contact him to discuss your concerns if you have additional questions.

What do I do if my insurance company denied my claim because I cannot “prove” the items I 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 was burned or otherwise damaged, and the estimated value.  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 I afford the costs associated with paying an attorney and pursuing a lawsuit?

Our law firm works on a contingency 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 especially hard?

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 the claims tend to be comparatively high.  

Is my 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.

If you have additional concerns about fire damage claims issues, our insurance claims law firm can analyze your situation and explain your rights.   If your insurance company refuses to pay for losses covered by your fire insurance coverage, you might have a legal claim for financial compensation.  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. 

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