With an average annual cost of $2,643, Florida homeowners pay some of the highest property insurance premiums in the country. If you add in supplementary flood and windstorm coverage, Florida premiums are probably the highest. These high premiums make sense because Florida tends to be a primary target for the numerous tropical storms that barrel westward over the Atlantic Ocean every year during hurricane season.
However, despite those high premiums, insurance companies have developed a reputation in the state for denying or otherwise limiting claimed benefits. In turn, Florida leads the country in filing lawsuits against insurance companies for denied and underpaid claims.
While the Tallahassee area does not have the extensive denial of claims and insurance litigation experienced in the state’s larger urban areas, claims do get denied in our area, and insurers often try to limit benefits. When this happens, homeowners and other property owners often have no further recourse than litigation. The personal injury lawyers of Tallahassee-based Akbar Law Firm are well-versed in the games insurance companies play. We stand ready to help northern Florida property owners secure the benefits they are due when their property is damaged by a storm, fire, flooding, or other disaster.
When your home or other property suffers damage, insurance companies are contractually and legally obliged to pay your claim. Of course, that obligation is dictated to some degree by the “small print” of your policy. Thus, insurance companies will naturally use whatever policy terms they can to limit what they might have to pay. There is nothing illegal about this and there is not much you can do if a claims denial or apparent underpayment is directly tied to specific policy terms.
All of these actions constitute potential bad faith insurance practices and may be subject to litigation. If your property insurance claim is denied or your insurance company offers benefits far below what you believe your policy entitles, you should consult with an experienced insurance claim lawyer, like the ones at Akbar Law Firm.
Under Florida law, your insurance company must follow specific procedures and meet certain deadlines when you file a claim. The sooner you file your claim for damages, the sooner you receive compensation or learn whether you will have to fight for fair compensation. Once you have notified your insurance company about the damages, it is required to provide a written response within 14 days. This response typically includes the necessary claim forms, instructions, and contact information. Once you have filed your claim, the insurance company has 90 days to respond. This response must inform you whether your claim is fully covered, partially covered, or denied. The response also must include full or partial payment of the claim.
If your claim is denied or you believe that any partial compensation offered fails to provide adequate coverage of the damages, you can directly appeal to the company to reconsider (reopen) the claim or seek mediation. If neither of these options fails to provide just compensation, your last recourse is to file suit.
Recent changes to Florida’s property insurance laws require claimants who have been denied compensation or dispute partial payment to file a notice of intent to sue. This pre-suit notice is designed to keep claims disputes out of the court by encouraging settlement. The pre-suit notice must describe the “alleged acts or omissions” made by the insurer that led to the claim denial or underpayment. It also must include a pre-suit settlement amount that itemizes damages, attorney fees, and other costs.
The insurance company has 10 business days to respond with either an acceptance of the settlement amount, a continued denial, or an assertion of the right to reinspect the damaged property. If the latter, the company has 14 business days to reinspect the property and either continue to deny the claim or accept it as set out in the pre-suit notice. If the insurance company continues to deny a full claim, the property owner has the right to file suit without providing any additional notice to the insurer. The insurer can pursue other settlement negotiations or alternative dispute resolutions with partial compensation denials. Property owners can initiate a lawsuit without further notice to the insurance company if these other remedies fail to resolve the dispute within 90 days.
If your property insurance claim is denied or you believe you are not receiving fair compensation for the damages, you should contact an insurance claims lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you with any appeals or mediation in advance of legal action and can help you navigate pre-suit notice requirements to pursue the most favorable settlement possible absent litigation. Should pre-suit maneuvering fail to deliver the compensation you believe is due and your insurance claim is strong, an experienced insurance claims lawyer will take the case into court.
The personal injury lawyers at Tallahassee’s Akbar Law Firm are intimately familiar with tactics insurance companies use to deny claims or otherwise limit compensation. We also keep abreast of changes to Florida’s insurance laws and are adept at navigating the legalities of insurance claims prior to litigation. Through our work in the field, we have gotten to know most of the lawyers who work on behalf of the insurance companies in Florida. This provides us leverage in our negotiations to reach reasonable and fair settlements and helps us when we need to take the dispute into the courtroom.
Tallahassee-area Clients who turn to Akbar Law Firm to help resolve their insurance claim disputes can be sure that every element of their claim will be fully investigated. We provide clients with a detailed assessment of the merits of their claim and a realistic estimate of what compensation they might be able to receive via mediation, pre-litigation settlement, or litigation. Insurance claims law is complicated, but our lawyers and paralegals strive to keep clients fully informed about the progression of their claim through all the steps needed to resolve it.