If you purchase a residence and secure a mortgage, you will be required to purchase a homeowners insurance policy. This requirement is more than an obligation imposed by your lender. Homeowners insurance protects your property, which includes both the physical structure of your home and the personal property inside the home from damage. This type of policy will also provide liability protection if someone is injured while on your property. Many homeowners do not pay much attention to what their policy covers until they experience a significant property loss or face a lawsuit for a dog attack or other accident that occurs on their property. However, it is important to understand your policy coverage before disaster strikes because there may be exclusions, limits and conditions that can necessitate additional coverage or actions by the insured.
Because of my extensive experience as a Florida insurance coverage attorney and former claims adjuster, my Miami based law office provides legal advice and representation to homeowners whose property or liability coverage claims are denied, delayed or lowballed. I have provided an overview of the coverage your homeowners policy provides in broad strokes, but you should carefully read your entire policy and seek professional advice if you have additional questions about the terms, exclusion and policy provisions.
Generally, your homeowners insurance provides two forms of coverage: (1) first party coverage and (2) third party coverage.
- First Party Coverage: This refers to property loss that is caused by a covered peril. The specific perils covered will depend on the policy and riders purchased for otherwise excluded perils. Some examples of the basis for claims include hurricane, vandalism, wind damage, defective hot water heaters and many other perils.
- Third Party Coverage: This coverage provides financial protection based on civil actions seeking damages for injury or harm suffered by others while, usually, on your property. These types of claims include liability for bite injuries caused by the family dog or falls caused by a broken step in your home.
It is important to understand the types of coverage that a policy provides in order to know how much insurance you should purchase above the minimum required under the terms of a mortgage or other obligation. There may also be perils that are not covered that merit purchasing additional coverage, such as flood insurance. The types of coverage will typically include:
- Damage to the Structure (First Party): If your home is damaged by a covered peril, your insurance will typically pay the cost of repair or to rebuild the home. Structural damage can be hidden, so homeowners should usually hire a contractor or other qualified expert to conduct an inspection of the home.
- Loss of Personal Property (First Party): If your home is damaged in a hurricane, the loss will typically extend beyond the physical structure of your home to the personal property contained inside the home. While your homeowners policy will cover items within the home, there may be specific items that are only covered up to a certain amount like jewelry.
- Personal Liability Coverage (Third Party): This form of financial protection extends to the homeowners and family members residing in the home. This form of coverage will compensate a visitor on the property who pursues a liability claim against the homeowner. An example of this kind of coverage might be the cost of replacement or rebuilding the neighbor’s home after a fire caused by the use of fireworks by the daughter of the insured.
- Medical Care (Third Party): If a person is injured while visiting your home, a homeowners policy will pay the medical costs of the injury victim regardless of fault, up to the limit of coverage.
- Domestic Residential Employees (Third Party): If you have domestic employees that reside in your home like a maid or nanny, your homeowners policy will indemnify you from liability for injuries to such employees while they are performing services inside your home.
- Umbrella Coverage: Many homeowners have umbrella coverage that will provide financial security for liability claims that exceed policy limits or claims that lie beyond the scope of the primary policy. If you are facing a claim above policy limits, your umbrella coverage may provide additional protection from liability claims. In the event that the damage or incident lies outside the coverage of your homeowners policy, the umbrella policy might provide coverage. In cases where the primary policy does not provide coverage, there is no requirement that the loss exceed the policy limits of the primary policy for umbrella coverage to apply.
If you have questions about Miami homeowners insurance claims, you are welcome to contact my Miami insurance claims 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.