Important Things Every Homeowner Should Know About Their Insurance Coverage

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

Most homeowners obtain insurance to protect their most vital asset if catastrophe strikes.  When your home is damaged by fire, theft, vandalism, or a storm, your homeowner’s insurance provides a sense of security if the physical structure and/or contents of your home are damaged or destroyed.  Unfortunately, homeowners often find that their expectations are disappointed because their insurance carrier fails to cover the full value of their loss. 

Some thoughts: 

Be Aware of What Your Policy Covers: There are many types of losses that are not covered by a standard policy.  Some examples include damage caused by government action, failure to maintain your property, utility outages, faulty workmanship, earth movements, flooding, war, sinkholes, and landslides.  Hurricanes may also not be covered by a standard insurance policy.  Many of these listed perils or types of damage can be covered by purchasing a separate policy or rider to your homeowner’s policy.  However, the additional coverage will also increase your premiums.

Do Not Delay in Pursuing a Claim:  Policyholders often have a short time frame to provide notice of a claim to their insurance company following a loss.  Notify your insurance company immediately following a loss.

Distinguishing Actual Cash Value from Replacement Cost Value: Actual cash value refers to the replacement price of the damaged item after allowing for depreciation.  While this is the less expensive form of coverage, claims under such a policy tend to pay significantly less than under a replacement cost policy.  If cabinetry in a kitchen is fifteen years old, for example, the recovery under an actual cash value policy will be substantially less because the amount paid out will reflect a substantial amount of depreciation.  By contrast, replacement cost will reflect that actual cost of repair or replacement without regard to depreciation.

Impact of Damage Prevention Measures on Premiums: Insurance companies base premiums on the number, severity, and nature of hazards.  This means that homeowners can impact their premium by taking steps that reduce these risks.  Examples of steps policyholders can take might include installing pool fences, pool covers, burglar alarms, storm shutters, hurricane impact windows, etc.  Although these measures might have a cost, the savings in premiums can offset these costs.

Carefully Maintain Records: The best way to obtain the full value of your loss is to maintain exhaustive records both before and after your claim.  When you make upgrades or renovations to your property keep receipts, invoices, records of payment and other documents establishing such improvements.  Similarly, you also should preserve documents regarding the contents of your home.  Policyholders who take photos or video of their home and contents prior to damage have a significant advantage in terms of receiving the full value of their loss.  Documents related to steps taken to mitigate your loss should also be preserved both to establish that you fulfilled your contractual obligation to mitigate damages and to recoup these costs.

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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