We all hope the worst never happens to your property or business. But if it does, property insurance is designed to help you recover. However, insurance companies don’t always pay their fair share of the claim. Instead, insurance companies deny valid claims, purposely delay payment, underpay or only pay a portion of what they owe. That’s where we can help.
Working with insurance companies can be difficult and intimidating. Murray + Murray has decades of experience recovering millions on property insurance claims for policyholders. We know how insurance companies work and the best avenues to recovering the money you are entitled to under your policy.
The first step in dealing with a property insurance claim is to understand how insurance companies deal with claims. The following are common types of property insurance claims.
Types of Property Insurance Claims
The first step to dealing with property insurance claims is understanding how insurers cover and address them. We have developed this overview of property insurance claims as a general resource. For information specific to your situation, we encourage you to contact one of our attorneys.
Bad Faith Insurance Claims
Bad faith insurance claims revolve around the insurance company breaching its duty of good faith on your insurance claim. Florida law allows policyholders to bring bad faith actions against an insurance company for breaching its obligations to its customers. Insurance companies must use fair claims practices and are legally obligated to act in good faith in the adjustment of the policyholder’s claim.
Bad faith activities include:
- Improperly denying claims.
- Unreasonable delays in paying claims.
- Unreasonable delays in investigating claims.
- Improper interpretation of policy language.
- Failing to properly advise policyholders about the claim or the policy.
- Refusing to investigate claims in a timely and proper manner.
- Intentionally underpaying claims.
Murray + Murray specialize in addressing bad faith claims. If you suspect your insurance company is not fulfilling its duty of good faith in handling your claim, call a Murray + Murray attorney today.
Business Interruption Insurance Claims
Business interruption coverage is typically part of a larger business property insurance policy. If a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or flood, causes damage to your business’s property, you may need to temporarily relocate or close your business during the repair process. The costs of continued operating costs, reduced productivity and downtime add up quickly, and you may lose business while you are waiting to re-open.
Your policy may compensate you for lost income and ongoing operating expenses that continue while your business is closed or under repair. Your policy may also compensate you for lost or damaged inventory, additional expenses and other losses your business may suffer after an interruption.
Collapse is often caused by hidden decay (pests are a common culprit) or vibrations from construction nearby. Collapse claims can be tricky to navigate, and most insurance policies cover some types of building collapses, but not all.
Insurance companies typically define “collapse” by a strict set of standards. In the event that your building collapses or incurs structural damage unexpectedly, you should review your policy for coverage and contact an expert to inspect the damages and help you navigate the claim process.
Explosion and Blasting Claims
Explosions are quick, unpredictable and can cause severe damage. Blasting is used in the construction and mining industry and can cause damage to surrounding homes and buildings.
Following recent changes in the Florida building code, many insurance companies are denying explosion and blasting claims based on engineering opinions regarding seismic loads. Due to the complicated nature of these claims, seek assistance if your property has been damaged by an explosion or blasting.
Fire and Smoke Claims
Fire is dangerous and can have devastating impacts on a property and the contents inside. Even smoke and soot from a small fire can cause extensive, irreversible damage. Odds are that most, if not all, of your personal or business property will need to be cleaned or replaced in the event of a fire. Fire and smoke often cause damages that are not visible to the naked eye, but still require significant repairs. Since damages from smoke and soot are often hidden, it is crucial to have your home or business checked carefully after a fire.
Most property insurance covers fire as well as smoke and soot damage. While a fire or smoke claim may seem straightforward, insurance companies will try to deny or underpay these claims. Claim denials can be based on the cause of the fire, allegations of fraud or arson, or a failure to cooperate. Additionally, there can be disagreements over the extent of damages and the cost or extent of repairs. Make sure to document all communications, take plenty of pictures and keep a list of all expenses you incur after the fire.
Broken Pipe Claims
Typically, a property insurance policy will not pay for repairs to broken pipes, but it will pay for the resulting water damage. Most insurance policies provide some insurance coverage for the emergency services to clean up the water and dry the property; however, some policies can limit this coverage. Many times, the insurance company improperly denies claims that include instances of lack of maintenance, old age or wear and tear. If you have a broken pipe and water causes damages to your property, you should report the claim to your insurance company.
Hail Damage Claims
Hail storms can cause significant property damage. If there has been a hail storm in your area, you should report a claim so your insurance company can promptly investigate any possible damage to your roof or other covered property. Note that hail damages to your roof may not be visible from the ground.
If you suspect possible hail damages to your property, a detailed inspection and investigation are necessary as part of the claims process. All too often, insurance companies deny the claim, stating that the damages are “cosmetic.” It is critical to document hail damage thoroughly and file your claim as soon as possible.
Hurricane and Wind Damage Claims
Hurricane and wind damage can be substantial. Wind can cause severe or complete destruction to a structure, as well as damage to windows and doors, roofing tiles and shingles, which can require repair or total replacement. Wind can also create openings to a home or building, thereby allowing water to enter and damage the property.
Not all property insurance policies cover hurricane and wind damage. Some policyholders are required to purchase separate wind policies to cover them in the event of a hurricane. Hurricane and wind damage policies have a separate, higher deductible, which can be a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of your insurance value. You should carefully review your policies to understand what type of insurance you have and the amount of your deductible.
Note that you can reduce your insurance costs by applying for wind mitigation credits that provide discounts for property protection measures, including hurricane shutter installation and storm-resistant windows and doors.
Florida experiences more lightning than any other state in the U.S.; more than half of the top 30 cities with the most lightning strikes are located in Florida. Fortunately, lightning is covered under property insurance policies.
Lightning can cause significant damage, including fires and damage to electronics and appliances. Many times, this damage is not apparent at first glance. Depending on the level of damage, you may be covered for personal property losses, additional living expenses and other expenses with your lightning claim.
Mold is traditionally covered under property insurance if it is caused by a covered event. Most policies limit coverage for damages caused by mold.
Mold can be a serious health hazard to your family or employees and can cause respiratory problems, eye irritation and congestion. It’s essential to file a claim for mold damage as soon as you realize it’s present. If you have questions about your mold coverage or policy, we recommend you check with an attorney to ensure your mold claim is being properly addressed.
Power Outage Claims
Damages from a power outage may be covered if the outage’s root cause is covered under your insurance policy. For example, spoiled food after a power outage due to a hurricane may be covered under your homeowners policy. Businesses can file a business interruption claim if a covered event causes an outage that results in loss of work, stock, revenue or other expense or loss.
Plumbing Leaks and Water Damage Claims
Damages caused by plumbing leaks, broken pipes or hoses are covered under most property insurance policies if the cause of the leak is “sudden and accidental.” For example, a washing machine hose bursting and causing water damage would be covered. Water damage from plumbing leaks and pipe breaks is the most common type of property insurance claim. If a sudden or unforeseen problem causes water damage to your property, file a claim and take action to protect the property from further damages.
More sinkholes occur in Florida than in any other state, and they typically occur without warning. Damage can range from cracking or sloping floors and walls to ground subsidence, which can swallow a room or an entire house. Checking your policy for sinkhole coverage is the first step before filing a claim.
Due to the cost of sinkhole coverage, many homeowners do not purchase this type of insurance. However, even if you did not purchase sinkhole insurance, most homeowners policies include “catastrophic ground cover collapse,” which may apply if you have significant sinkhole-related damage.
Although expensive, sinkhole insurance may be a good investment for Florida homeowners. To make a sinkhole claim, document the damage and file a claim as soon as possible after you notice of the cracking walls or floors.
Vandalism is defined as intentional damage by someone else to your insured property without your consent. It is usually covered by property insurance policies, including renters insurance. Most losses and damages as a result of vandalism are covered under homeowners and commercial insurance policies.
There may be limits and exclusions when it comes to making a theft or vandalism claim, so review your policy carefully. Make sure to file a police report promptly, as the insurance company will request a copy to process your claim.
Theft or Burglary Claims
Theft and burglary claims are covered under insurance policies. Theft and burglary insurance coverage helps policyholders recover from damage caused by a break-in and as well as the cost of repairing or replacing the stolen or damaged property.
Depending on your policy, there can be limits and conditions to recovery for certain items. Some policies provide replacement cost coverage, while others provide actual cash value coverage. Most disputes involving theft and burglary claims surround the policy limits and the valuation of the stolen items.
If your home or business is broken into, always file a police report and file your claim to the insurance company as soon as possible. As part of the claims process, request a certified copy of your insurance policy and prepare a detailed list of the stolen items to document your loss and damages. If you have a question about your policy or its limits and conditions, contact one of our attorneys.
Tornadoes are sudden, unpredictable and can cause severe damage in just a few moments. They are often byproducts of strong storms or hurricanes and can cause damaging high winds as well as hail, flying debris and rain.
Tornado damage is covered under windstorm insurance policies; however, the coverage you have can affect how much you receive from your insurance company for your claim. Contact an attorney if you have questions about your tornado claim.
Flood damage or damage from rising waters is typically not covered under standard property insurance policies; however, homeowners and businesses can purchase a separate policy to cover flooding.
Flood insurance can help pay for the repairs or replacement of damaged property. While it will not pay for additional living expenses, it may help pay to remove debris from the insured home or business.
We Can Help
We understand that the value of owning and caring for a home or business is significant. For most people, your home is your most important asset. When your home or business is damaged or destroyed, making a claim and dealing with the insurance company can be overwhelming. If you have made an insurance claim and you’re not sure your insurance company is paying you properly or handling your claim fairly, call a Murray + Murray attorney for assistance. We are here for you and are ready to help you get the insurance money you deserve.