Important Issues in Florida Fire Insurance Claims [Part III]

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

This is the final installment in our three-part blog series discussing issues that arise in the context of fire insurance claims disputes.  (Links to Part I, Part 2) While we have attempted to discuss many of the relevant issues that face policyholders who are not receiving cooperation from their insurance carrier, we know consumers might have more specific questions about their individual situation.  We invite you to contact our law firm to learn how we can help you protect your legal rights and obtain the compensation you are entitled to receive under your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Will I be compensated for my living expenses if I am displaced from my home following a fire?

Generally, homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage for the cost of additional living expenses incurred because you are compelled to temporarily relocate.  If you must move into a motel or dine out instead of prepare meals at home, your insurance will cover the motel costs and the increased cost of dining out assuming this is not your ordinary practice.  Other expenses associated with your relocation that add to your customary living expenses may also be covered.

Can my insurance company require that I provide a sworn statement?

The insurance company is entitled to request that you provide a sworn statement to facilitate investigation of your claim. The insurance company will typically have you attend an examination under oath and ask questions which must be answered truthfully based on your knowledge and recollection.  Although you can attend an examination under oath without an attorney, this is not an advisable practice because you will have no one protecting your interests.

How long does my insurance company have to repair the fire damage?

There is no set deadline within which your home must be repaired although under Florida law the insurer must do so within a reasonable time.  Florida Statute Section 627.70131 requires the insurance company to deny or pay a homeowner’s claim within 90 days unless a delay is the result of circumstances outside the control of the insurance company.  Although an insurer’s failure to meet this deadline cannot be the sole basis for a legal claim against the insurer, the insured may have a basis for an award of interest calculated from the day the insurance company received notice of the fire damage claim.

My insurer is requesting a significant amount of personal information and documents.  Is the insurer entitled to this information?

Generally, an insurance company is entitled to cooperation, so you must provide information and documents that are requested pursuant to your claim.  However, an experienced fire insurance claims attorney might be able protect you if you feel that your insurer is making improper requests.  If the origin of the fire that damages your home is questionable, you might be subjected to detailed personal, business and financial questions.

What can I expect if my personal belongings are damaged by soot and smoke?

The insidious nature of smoke can result in damage to personal property that necessitates replacing all of the furnishings and possessions inside a residence.  Insurance adjusters looking to minimize the payout on a claim might contend that simply cleaning the surface of an item will eliminate any damage.  An insurance claims lawyer can assist you if your insurer is understating the cost of repairing an item or inappropriately contending that possessions do not need to be replaced.

What other kinds of tactics might my insurance company use to reduce the amount I am paid or to deny my claim?

The insurance company may hire supposed “investigators” that are closely aligned with the insurance company.  The insurance company may also want to pay for cheap low quality building materials to repair your home.  The insurer may also attempt to replace possessions like home furnishings or clothing with items of inferior quality.  The insurer also might not provide code upgrades or replacement cost coverage even if you are entitled to such benefits by your policy.

Should you be experiencing difficulty with your fire damage claim, we invite you to contact us if you have additional questions. 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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