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Top Secrets Insurance Companies Don’t Want Their Policy Holders To Know

You have insurance and always pay your premium on time. You look over your policy.  You make sure that your smoke detectors have new batteries, that you have an updated alarm system and take care of wear and tear issues in your home as they arise.  For years, things have been normal, but when significant and unexpected damage happens and you need to submit a claim, your insurance company may have a few surprises for you.

They tell you that you’re in good hands, so you feel that your insurance provider will be there for you when you need them. You likely assumed that insurance companies are legally obligated to operate in good faith and you never worried that as a policyholder you wouldn’t be treated fairly or compensated properly.

When the claims process ensues, the insurance provider’s goal is to reduce the liability for themselves and pay out as little as possible, if at all. Most homeowners submit their claim themselves only to realize later that the insurance company is offering significantly less than what it will take to repair the damage or nothing at all. There are many layers to the negotiation process and if you’re not working with a public adjuster or an attorney that focuses on homeowner’s insurance law, you could end up paying more out of pocket to repair damages than you should have.

Here are a few things that insurance companies don’t want you to know:

The insurance company hopes that you will represent yourself:  An adjuster who works for the insurance company is not the same as a public adjuster. The former has the upper hand over the average policyholder, who doesn’t deal with claims on a daily basis and isn’t well-suited to fight against someone with such extensive knowledge. The adjuster may even try to persuade the policyholder to record a statement without speaking to an attorney because they have bargaining power in the process.

The insurance adjuster doesn’t work for you – a public adjuster does:  It may feel like the insurance adjuster is there to help you receive the compensation that you deserve.  But the insurance adjuster is a trained negotiator who doesn’t always fight fair, resorting to appealing to a policyholder on an emotional level to get them to accept a lower settlement.  Consider hiring a public adjuster on your own that doesn’t represent the insurance company. Since most get paid on a contingency basis (they get paid when you get paid), they will fight hard to get you the biggest payout possible. Know that part of negotiation is manipulation and without an experienced lawyer on your side, you could be duped into saying something that could be used against you to deny your claim.

Settling is beneficial to the insurance company:  Each claim is different but oftentimes, the insurance company is motivated to settle.  Having an attorney to work on your behalf, to bring an action for breach of contract and/or bad faith against the company if things head that way is always a good option if required.

Undervaluing your claim is standard operating procedure:  Insurance is a business, plain and simple.  Driven to make a profit for the company, an adjuster has good reason to undervalue your valid claim.  If you’re not aware, you could easily settle for less money than you’re entitled to if the adjuster convinces you it’s a good deal.

If your homeowners insurance claim has been denied, underpaid or has hit a legal snag, hiring a homeowners insurance attorney can get you the payment you deserve to repair your property. Call 844-96-CLAIM to get a free case review.

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5 Things You Should Never Do Following Hurricane Property Damage

Facing the devastating after-effects of hurricane-related damage is emotionally taxing. Having to deal with trying to figure out the in’s and outs of filing a property damage claim can be confusing, if not daunting. In having to deal with severe emotion and frustration, judgement can get clouded. However, in order to prevent your situation from getting worse, there are several things that should never be done. Here are the top 5.

 

  1. Don’t return to your home until it is deemed safe to do so.

In addition to protecting your own safety, first responders first priority is to find any survivors and casualties. Returning before they allow it will prolong their job, but other lives at risk and put you in danger. Remain patient and wait for the go-ahead.

 

  1. Don’t immediately discard of potentially damaged items.

In addition to not being in the best mindset to make sound decisions after a devastating event, you may be able to salvage some property that would otherwise have to be completely replaced. Although at first sight your property may appear to be totally destroyed, upon further examination, you may find that there’s a lot that is salvageable

Also, if you salvage partially damaged property, your insurance company will try to make sure that your property doesn’t suffer further damage.

 

  1. Don’t wait to contact your insurance company after the damage is done.

Once you file your claim, they will send out a person to assess your property for compensation. Remember, you’re not the only one who will be contacting them. Therefore, the longer you wait, the more time you will have to wait in line and your compensation will be delayed.

Also, your insurance may have a ‘prompt notice’ requirement which mandates that you contact the company as soon as damage is caused.

 

  1. Don’t assess the cause of the property damage to the adjuster.

Although we all have the best intentions of trying to help the situation, this may cause more damage than help to the owner of the property. Sometimes this ‘self-diagnosis’ may lead to the damage not being covered. Leave the job to the professionals and save yourself some potential heartache.

 

  1. Don’t feel that you have to accept the initial estimate for compensation that you receive.

Following the mass destruction that is caused by a severe hurricane, an insurance’s goal is to close as many properties as possible in the shortest amount of time. The majority of the time, they will also undervalue the property damage- it’s a business, after all! With these two elements at play, it leaves the owners of the damaged property without enough money to cover their damages.

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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Pipe and Plumbing Leak Water Damage?

There are few things more awful than coming come to a room full of water as a result of a leak. When it comes to water damage, home insurance companies can be tricky to navigate as some instances are covered while others are not.

While Florida insurance companies do often cover sudden and unexpected water damage, they will not cover anything that happened over time and you, as the owner, may be stuck with the cost of it.  Also, flooding is not covered unless separate coverage is purchased. Finally, certain parts of a broken or leaking pipe incident may be covered. Let’s take a more specific look at what is and isn’t covered by your standard homeowners insurance.

What is covered:

If the nature of the water damage is unexpected such as a burst pipe or ruptured water heater, there’s a good chance that your policy will provide you with compensation.

The key words are ‘accidental’ or ‘sudden’ – if those describe your situation, then you will likely be covered.

Your insurance policy covers your dwelling which consists of your walls, roof, floor, appliances, and mechanical systems. Also, it can cover your personal items but does have a cap on luxury items which may require the purchase of a rider to cover the total cost.

Finally, if you are unable to stay in your home due to the damage, your insurance policy should cover the living expenses such as hotel or transportation that are affected as a direct result of it.

What isn’t covered:

While insurance policies will cover sudden breaks, there are instances in which they may not. If an adjuster finds that there are signs of normal wear and tear or negligence on your part or that of a plumber, your claim may be denied. It is only in the instance that the pipes were properly maintained and malfunctioned that the insurance company will cover the damage.

Sewage backup and flooding are not covered by regular policies, but there are affordable options to add that protection, which is highly recommended.

Most often, mold damage isn’t covered by Florida insurance companies either. However, if it is the result of a covered leak, then you may have the possibility of coverage. Policies often have a cap on how much is covered so a rider may have to be purchased to cover the full extent of the damage.

If your claim gets denied or underpaid…

If you had the proper insurance coverage and were denied or your claim was underpaid, you may employ the services of a homeowners insurance claim attorney.

Law Firm of David Low and Associates, P. A. | 844-96-CLAIM

DISCILAIMER: The information in this article is purely for educational purposes, reflective of the time it was published. It is not to be understood as legal advice.

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Buying a Home in Florida? Here’s what to Look for in Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

Florida has many benefits that are attractive to both, business owners and those in favor of sunshine. If you are looking to make a move to Florida, there are a few things you should know. But first, save our contact information: Law Firm of David Low and Associates, P. A. | 844-96-CLAIM If your homeowners’ insurance claim is denied or underpaid, you will be glad you did!

The Basics of a Homeowners Insurance Policy:

With different kinds of homeowners’ insurance policies available, it’s difficult to know which one is the right one for you to pick from. At its most basic, a homeowners’ insurance policy helps you cover repairs from losses to your property. Your average policy will include coverage for damage that is related to fallen trees, storms, water discharge, or fire.

The majority of claims that are made to these companies are water-related from everyday occurrences such as leaking from plumbing, water heaters or air conditioners. While Florida law doesn’t require that a homeowner have coverage, most mortgage lenders do.

The components of a basic policy include your dwelling, any structure attached to it, your personal property, and loss of use – meaning if your home is uninhabitable due to damage, the expenses associated with the damage. Many basic policies also include medical payments coverage and personal liability coverage for persons who are injured on your property.

What Are Things You Should Look for In Your Policy?

1. Windstorm Damage: Most policies should include windstorm damage. It’s important to obtain coverage for windstorm due to the frequent nature of this kind of damage to Florida homes. Florida homeowners can experience damage that results from hurricanes, tropical storms or any other kind of hurricane-force winds. Making sure to obtain this coverage is important. 

If you’re buying a new home, consider getting one that was built after Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida. It was the hurricane that changed many laws and codes. So, although older homes may have more charm, the newer ones (built after the mid-1990s) tend to be more weather-resistant, due to more stringent building codes.

If you are buying a home that is older, do what you can to update your home to newer codes to ensure that you don’t incur any future damage.

2. Flood Coverage:

Flood damage from rising waters is not typically covered under a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. Flood coverage must be separately purchased. The amount you pay for your flood insurance is determined by the kind of flood zone you live in. A Special Flood Hazard Area, defined as an area close to the coast and other bodies of water requires that a homeowner in that area purchase a flood insurance policy.  Your home is then assigned a Base Flood Elevation number which measures how close you are to sea level.

If your area is below sea level, your flood insurance policy will be more costly.

Other Considerations:

Insurance companies also consider the placement of your home appliances and other fixtures around your home and whether or not they’re elevated off the ground. If the home’s fixtures are more prone to damage, based on location, then the policy can be more costly. In addition, the underwriters will want to know the size of your home and how many floors there are.

If your claim gets denied or underpaid, you will want to employ the services of a homeowners’ insurance claim attorney.

Law Firm of David Low and Associates, P. A. | 844-96-CLAIM

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is purely for educational purposes, reflective of the time it was published. It is not to be understood as legal advice.

TAGS: FLOOD COVERAGE, HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE, HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE POLICY, WINDSTORM DAMAGE

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Hurricane Season: Why Homeowners Should Seek Professional Advice When Shopping for a Policy.

Out of all the states in the U.S. damaged by hurricanes, Florida has been hit the most – a staggering 40%. Its expansive coastline puts Florida in a unique position of being extremely vulnerable to hurricanes. We have warm Atlantic waters to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west.  Plus, the majority of Florida’s residents live along the coastline.

Hurricanes are an expensive threat to homeowners. For example, during Hurricane Irma alone, Floridians suffered $23 billion in insured losses. This was excluding flood damage which caused even more expenses for Florida homeowners.

Because of our unique vulnerability to damage, there are insurance companies that do nearly all of their business within the state of Florida. There are many to choose from and it can be daunting for a homeowner in Florida to know whether they’re making the right choice for their needs and to cover all of their bases in case a hurricane or storm-related catastrophe strikes.

It’s easy to simply settle on the biggest and seemingly ‘most trusted’ company in the U.S. without giving it much further thought – the larger names recognizable from radio and television. However, paying attention to the amount of Floridian markets they serve and whether or not they have policies tailored to the specific needs of Floridian conditions is important. For example, State Farm, which insures 20% of homeowners in the United States, only ensures 7% or less of Florida homeowners and Allstate, operating under a different name in Florida is ranked 19th in the market share in the state.

The more prudent insurance companies to target are the ones that are more focused within the state instead of a national scale, and as a homeowner, you should look for a policy that is attuned to the risks facing a Florida home. For example, it is not generally wise to obtain a policy without water damage coverage, the leading cause of damage in the state.

According to research conducted as to policyholders, a staggering amount of Florida policyholders are unhappy with their insurance policies. There is no one factor that can be pinpointed because a combination of many factors are at play, based on the experiences and needs from customer to customer. However, big factors include the price of the policy and experiences with claims.

Many policyholders’ claims for damage are either underpaid or have been denied. If your claim has been denied or underpaid, it is recommended that you employ the services of a homeowners’ insurance claim attorney. By doing so, you increase the chances of getting your claim paid in full. In some cases, your attorney will work with you on a contingent basis, meaning that you will not pay attorney’s fees until your claim is paid.

Law Firm of David Low and Associates, P. A. | 844-96-CLAIM

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is purely for educational purposes, reflective of the time it was published. It is not to be understood as legal advice.

TAGS: FLOOD DAMAGE, HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE, HURRICANE, HURRICANE SEASON, HURRICANES

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Will My Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold Growth on My Property?

Mold is one of those things you often can’t see and hope you don’t have, but which you cannot afford to ignore. Every homeowner should take the steps needed to prevent mold and to remediate or eliminate mold if those nasty little spores start showing up on your property. Even though the government hasn’t set legal limits for exposure, the presence of “toxic mold” has wreaked havoc for thousands of property owners, especially landlords.

There is little question that it’s worth both time and money to examine your property for signs of mold and to take strong measures to eliminate it and prevent its growth.

 

How and where does mold grow?

It is a combination of moisture and nutrients that provides the perfect environment for mold growth. For the most part, mold grows in areas with poor ventilation and/or a structural weakness that allows water to seep into the building from outside. There are different types of mold that grow on different materials. Different types of mold grow on different materials, such as carpet, water pipes, cardboard boxes or ceiling tiles. Both heat and humidity create an ideal environment for the growth of mold organisms. Not all mold is harmful. For example, the mold on your bathroom tile doesn’t create a health concern. That said, signs of discoloration and musty odors are usually red flags that it’s time to check for mold in your property.

If mold is able to grow undetected, it can create stains on carpets and wood floors, walls, fabric or whichever surface it’s growing on. If you ignore it, mold can ruin these materials. It also can lead to wood rot and disintegration. However, the biggest problem is toxic molds, which can trigger allergic reactions and other possibly significant health problems for those living on the property.

 

What to Do If You Find Mold

The best thing to do is to prevent mold by keeping an eye on it and getting rid of it when the problem is small by using a mild detergent and water to scrub the area clean. Wear rubber gloves and protective goggles to protect yourself and then make sure the area is well-ventilated after the cleanup, to prevent the mold from returning. If you have a larger, more intense mold problem, remediation is best tackled by professionals.

 

Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Mold?

In most cases, the answer is “no.” Many homeowners insurance policies will only cover mold damage that was caused by what they refer to as a “covered peril.” Here is a list of covered perils, according to the insurance companies:

  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Vandalism or malicious mischief
  • Damage caused by vehicles
  • Theft
  • Frozen pipes
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from plumbing, heating, air conditioners, sprinkler systems, or household appliances

In most cases, these covered perils will tend not to lead to mold growing on your property, although there are certainly exceptions, like when an ice dam forms in your gutters during a rough winter and water backs up under your roof shingles, soaking your roof and your attic. However, it is unlikely your homeowners’ insurance will cover mold growth in most circumstances, especially if the cause was a preventable water leak, high humidity, or flooding.

Insurance companies tend not to pay for anything they consider to be a maintenance issue that could have been prevented by the homeowner, and failure to do that is the main cause for mold growth. Insurance companies expect homeowners to be proactive in taking care of such problems before they get to the level of making an insurance claim. In other words, you owe it to yourself to keep up with the mold and get rid of it before it becomes a problem.

 

Law Firm of David Low and Associates, P. A. | 844-96-CLAIM

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is purely for educational purposes, reflective of the time it was published. It is not to be understood as legal advice.

TAGS: HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE, HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE POLICY, MOLD, MOLD INSURANCE

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HO3 Homeowner’s Policies in Florida

There is something about Florida and its constantly changing weather that makes residents want to stay in the state, even after a natural disaster. The resultant property damage that often occurs due to weather events is well-documented. However, Florida people live here willingly, even if they are aware that their lives can be turned inside-out at any time, sometimes on a moment’s notice. It is this uncertainty that keeps homeowner’s insurance companies in business and very busy. It is also why Florida residents continue living here. Often, homeowners don’t appreciate the value of their homeowner’s insurance until there is an emergency.


What is a HO3 Home Insurance Policy?

The HO3 Home Insurance Policy is the most common homeowner’s insurance policy in the United States. That is because it provides excellent coverage for your home, as well as good coverage for your personal property. The HO3 Policy is actually a hybrid of two types of policies; the first is an “open perils” policy on your home, in which the “perils” not covered are listed. If something happens and it is not specifically on the list of exclusions, it will be covered. The second is the “named perils” policy that covers personal property. With a “named perils” policy, the perils that are covered are specifically listed, which means, if the disaster is not listed, the damages caused by the disaster will not be covered.

Throughout the state of Florida, homeowners are susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes. In fact, most homeowner’s policies include loss from theft and structural damage from fire, leaks, water discharge, fallen trees, or as a result of a storm. Fortunately, most wind or windstorm damage is usually covered. In fact, damage from win is almost always included as part of any homeowner’s insurance policy, although flooding and many other types of water damage is not.


What Many HO3 Insurance Policies Lack in Coverage

Though it is the most common homeowner’s policy available, there are some limitations to the policies that homeowners must be aware of:

• These policies often offer only limited water damage coverage – These policies do include sudden and accidental water damage, but there are a lot of exclusions, and sometimes, low policy limits.
• Open Perils coverage of personal property – These policies generally only cover personal property for a very specific 16 perils, though they cover the dwelling for many other perils. Additional perils may be covered, but you will have to pay an additional premium for each one. It is best to discuss the coverage you are looking for with your insurance agent.

The 16 perils most HO3 policies will cover for personal property are as follows:

• Fire or Lightning
• Windstorm or Hail
• Volcanic Eruption
• The excessive weight from ice, snow or sleet
• Explosion
• Sudden & Accidental Damage from Artificially Generated Electric Current
• Aircraft
• Vehicles
• Falling Objects
• Smoke
• Vandalism or Malicious Mischief
• Theft
• Riot or Civil Commotion
• Volcanic Eruption
• Accidental Discharge or Overflow of Water or Stream
• Sudden & Accidental Tearing Apart, Cracking, Burning, or Bulging
• Freezing

The purpose for homeowner’s insurance is to helps pay for the repair or rebuilding of your home, as well as to replace personal property due to a covered loss.

According to experts, most claims tend to be for water leaks; from air conditioning systems, water heaters, plumbing and roofs, and not the most dramatic natural disasters we all see on the news. In most cases, wind damage will be covered, but flood damage usually requires a separate policy. Most homeowners’ flood policies are administered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This is some excellent insurance to have, since the federal government has standardized the rates, which means your annual premium will be the same, regardless of the insurance company who writes your homeowner’s policy. Right now, the maximum coverage available through the NFIP is $250,000 for the structure and $100,000 for the contents, and the cost of the premium in a Preferred Flood Zone is $414 per year, with a $1000 deductible for each claim.

TAGS: HOMEOWNERS CLAIM DENIED, HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE CLAIM

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Unusual Homeowners Insurance Claims From Valentine’s Day Accidents

Roses are red, Violets are blue, We love an unusual claim, Don’t you?

We’re taking a moment from enjoying chocolates and roses on Valentine’s Day to reflect on some unusual homeowner’s insurance claims that didn’t all come up hearts and flowers!

Cupid has his arrow, but our first homeowner had a gun

As a professional gun restorer, one would normally remember to check the chamber for bullets, which is gun safety rule number one.  The homeowner was surprised to discover that the gun he was cleaning was actually loaded and he inadvertently shot his television set.  His insurer believed his claim and reimbursed for it, which was quite a gift to him!

Doves are the birds of love, but swans are shockingly beautiful

Our next tale involves the solemn story of a swan who didn’t notice that he was flying directly into some high voltage power lines until it was too late.  After the poor bird’s unfortunate shock, the swan flew straight into a home, leaving a large hole in the roof when the bird entered.  The claim was paid, and the damage was repaired fast.

Steamy kitchen claim

One couple loaded up their dishwasher to the max only to encounter a horrible mess when the dishwasher got stuck on high heat. The kitchen was overwhelmed by steam, positively drenching the entire room.  Although their home insurance provider rejected their claim, the couple’s flood insurance kicked in and covered all the damage.

And they called it puppy love

Dogs can do amazing things like save their owners lives or help calm anxiety.  Generally, arts and crafts are not their strength.  When a homeowner accidently left a can of paint open while painting her walls, she was in for the surprise of her life.  Her dog wandered over to the can of paint and as he passed it, his tail landed in the can and proceeded to coat her house in paint as he wagged through each room. The shocked homeowner was happy to have her claim paid. Her dog retired from painting but enjoyed a lovely bath.

Will you ‘bee’ mine?

A bee caught our homeowner’s eye and he became hypnotized by the insect’s flying and buzzing around his head.  When he stood up, he became dizzy and proceeded to fall over and put a substantial dent right in his kitchen wall.  Unfortunately, the damage that was incurred didn’t exceed the man’s deductible, so he had to deal with the sting of paying for the repairs himself.

Not all homeowners are so lucky to get their claims paid. When homeowner’s insurance claims are denied or underpaid, we fight for your compensation. Save our number for when this happens to a homeowner you know in Florida: 844-96-CLAIM.

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Five New Year’s Resolutions Homeowners Should Make

According to Inc Magazine, 60 percent of Americans admit to making New Years’ Resolutions, but only 8 percent successfully achieve them. This is largely because resolutions take consistent effort. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, you must consistently make choices that support that goal. It’s easy to get off track.

Resolutions concerning your biggest investment – your home – can have long-term benefits while typically requiring a one-time effort. Here are a few to consider:

Resolution 1: Shop for Better Homeowners Insurance

If you financed the purchase of your home, you were required to purchase and keep a homeowner’s insurance policy. In more cases than not, homeowners buy insurance policies that fit their budget but don’t necessarily provide the full coverage they may need.

First, understand what your current policy covers. Since Florida properties are highly prone to wind and water damage, it is important to consider all possibilities. Some factors to take into account include your proximity to zones especially susceptible to storm damage, the value of your home, and the value of your personal property.

The latter could have changed since you first got your existing policy, which brings us to Resolution #2.

Resolution 2:  Take Inventory

Take inventory of your valuables and the state of your property. In addition to having an updated list of valuables to cover under your insurance, taking a look at your home can help prevent unnecessary damage in the future. Keep in mind that damage that is found to occur due to neglect is not covered by insurance policies, even if it was worsened by a storm.

Inspect your roof, gutters, windows, sidewalks and large trees for any potential issues and make repairs as needed. Hurricane season is only 5 months away. Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, replacing batteries and the units themselves if necessary.

In your preparations, take down important numbers in case of damage. You should include a public adjuster and a homeowner’s insurance attorney in case your insurance claim is denied. Our number is easy to remember: 844-96-CLAIM.

Resolution 3: Create an Energy Efficient Home

While you’re taking your property’s pulse, consider making your home more energy efficient. Areas to consider include lighting, windows, sliding doors, appliances and solar panels. Depending on the changes you make, you can see immediate savings on your energy and water bills. Some cities even offer incentives to make your home more “green”. Here are some of the rebates, incentives and programs the City of Fort Lauderdale offers its residents for adopting sustainable practices in their homes.

Resolution 4:  Pay Down Principal

What’s another good use for your tax return? Put it into paying down your mortgage. Here are a few ways to do so:

  • If you have private mortgage insurance or PMI, paying down your mortgage can help you save. When you bring it down to the 80 percent equity level, you will wipe out the need for your PMI payment each month, which can save you about $100/mo depending on your payment.
  • Work with your lender to pay down the principle. You can use your tax return to make an extra mortgage payment for the year or space it out and pay extra every month. Be sure to discuss these options with your lender to make sure your additional payments are going towards the principle.

Resolution 5: Consider Refinancing Your Mortgage

This option is not the right fit for everyone, but can be helpful if you:

  • Plan to stay in your home for at least the next 5 years
  • Want to lower your monthly payment
  • Have improved your credit score

One of the most important things to consider when refinancing is whether the savings outweigh the closing costs (about 2% – 4% of your home’s value). The goal is to save money so you will want to make sure that you fully understand the pros and cons.

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What You Must Know About Releases of Claims in Exchange for Policy Benefits

Getting your homeowners insurance claim approved by an insurance company is an arduous and often long process. When you finally hear that your claim has been approved and the final step is to sign a few pieces of paper to receive your check, you are likely elated to do so. Unfortunately, this is where many homeowners make a significant mistake.

By signing a release of claim, you give up the important right to seek further benefits under the policy relating to that loss. A release takes away your right to reopen or supplement a claim. In some cases, you may find additional damage while repairing the original damage; such as mold in walls which you cannot see until the wall is being opened. In the event you find hidden damage, you will want to submit a supplemental claim, but if you sign a release of claim, you will not be able to do so.

It is most important to know that your homeowner’s insurance policy does not require that you sign a release in order to receive benefits. A release of claim must be supported by consideration, or in laymen’s terms, when there is an exchange of something of value for something else of value between two parties outside of an existing contract. For example, if there is a dispute as to whether an insurance premium was paid on time when a homeowner submits their claim, it can take the claim outside the limits of the contract and therefore, payment for the claim would be a consideration on the part of the insurance company and may warrant a release of benefits.

Insurance companies prey on homeowners who may not understand this legal concept. Even if a public adjuster is working on the claim for you, they cannot legally advise you on whether the release should be signed or not since they are not attorneys and this would constitute the practice of law, which is outside their scope of qualifications.

In a case like this, the best a public adjuster can do is advise their client to confer with an attorney who specializes in suing homeowner’s insurance companies such as David Low & Associates. Depending on the facts of the case, an attorney is able to help determine whether the release of claim is justified or not.

It is important to note that the Florida Department of Insurance has found insurers to abuse releases, especially in claims submitted for hurricane damage. So much so that after Hurricane Andrew, the Commissioner at the time, Tom Gallagher, issued Informational Bulletin 93-005:

“It has been brought to the attention of the Florida Department of Insurance that some insureds are being required to sign full releases in order to receive claims disbursement in settlement of claims relating to Hurricane Andrew.

The Department interprets Florida Statutes 626.9541(1)(i), 626.9641(1)(b), 626.9702, 627.4265, 627.702 and Emergency Rule Subsections 4ER92-26(4)(g), 4ER92-27(4) and other emergency rule subsections on similar topics, to mean:

  1. No check or draft issued in settlement of an insurance claim shall contain a provision which makes negotiation of the instrument an acceptance of the amount payable thereon as full and final settlement of the underlying insurance claim, except those that are for full policy limits.
  2. To eliminate misunderstanding or confusion and possible violation of Florida Statute 626.9541 and Rule 4-166.023, Florida Administrative Code, the Department is requesting that insurers limit the use of general releases to those settlements for which they are appropriate, and insert in said releases language to the effect that the release shall not constitute a final waiver of claims which are reasonably unforeseen on the date of the release.”

When you hit any legal obstacles with your homeowner’s insurance claim, call David Low & Associates at 844-96-CLAIM for a free case evaluation. Our primary office is in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

 

This article is for purpose of providing information and does not constitute as legal advice.

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