Tips to Avoid the Need to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim

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

Many people who live in Florida count their home as their most valuable asset and the cornerstone of their future financial security.  The role of the family home as a valuable asset makes it imperative that you have homeowners insurance to safeguard your investment from damage caused by storms, lightning, wind and other perils.  While homeowners insurance can provide the money you need to repair your home after experiencing such a loss, the process of getting an insurer to pay can be a challenge. 

Because insurance companies have strong financial incentives to deny or minimize payment, your best option is to take steps to reduce the risk that you will have to file a homeowners claim.  Damage to homes often occurs when people are away from the home, so we have provided some tips for securing your home against damage when you cannot be present.

Tip #1: Be Cautious with Social Media Posts: Many people post details about every facet of their lives on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media pages.  However, the public areas of these sites can be monitored by anyone which includes potential vandals and thieves.  Some people assume that social media sites do not have enough identifying information for those with bad motives to find their home and take advantage of their absence.  However, photos posted on social media websites can depict distinctive features of neighborhoods and homes.  While you might not think people have their homes burglarized while they are on a cruise in the Bahamas, this event occurs on a daily basis across the U.S.  The best practice is not to indicate on your social media site specific periods when you will be on vacation or otherwise away from home.

Tip #2: Turn Your Home Water Off: Water from a burst pipe, defective water heater, leaking dishwasher or other source causes a substantial amount of property damage.  When people are away from home for an extended period, water damage can cause more severe damage over a longer period of time.  Some water claims are excluded if the insurer can show the water damage was the result of neglect or that the water penetration was not a “sudden” event.  While this terminology can be interpreted creatively by an experienced Florida insurance claims attorney, a prolonged leak is more likely to result in a denial.

Tip #3 Suspend Mail and Paper Delivery: There are few signs as obvious that a home is empty and unoccupied as a mailbox bursting at the seams or a pile of unclaimed newspapers in the driveway.  If criminals or delinquents are looking for a home to pilfer or vandalize, these signs essentially amount to putting out a welcome mat.  When mail piles up, it also can be a tempting invitation to identity thieves.

Tip #4: Notify the Police: While you might think the police will not pay attention to your absence, you should notify the local police if you will be gone for a week or more.  The police might drive by your neighborhood periodically if you provide notice that your home will be vacant.  Admittedly, this depends on a variety of factors, but there is no harm in providing such notice.

If you have questions about Florida property insurance claims, you are welcome to contact my Miami insurance claims dispute 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.

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