Insurance companies are well known for playing hardball. Remember, if you give up or walk away, you just added to their profits. That’s why it’s important to get on top of your claim right away by contacting an insurance claim attorney in Clearwater.
You need to make sure you are doing everything required under your homeowner’s policy. This leaves the insurance company to run the risk of engaging in bad faith claims handling for delayed or denied property damage claims.
Recently, a Florida court reiterated that a homeowner with an all-risk (HO-3) insurance policy need only prove, 1) a loss occurred, 2) during the policy period, 3) to covered property. From there the insurance company must prove specific exclusions apply to deny coverage. In this case, the policy exclusions included “neglect,” “existing damage,” “weather conditions,” “faulty, inadequate or defective design” and “wear and tear, marring, deterioration”.
This may seem obvious but it puts the heavy lifting on the insurance company to prove why the loss falls under a policy exclusion and have your claim denied. In other words, you don’t need to convince your insurance company what caused the loss or how the loss specifically occurred. Maybe your worn roof had evidence of leaking but then you suffered hail damage and large leaks in new areas of your home suddenly appeared.
This is consistent with Florida law. If you have an HO-3 policy, you might find an exclusion for damage caused by earth settling. If you purchase a sinkhole endorsement and suffer cracking of foundations and structural damage, don’t let the insurance company drag you into an argument about whether the sinkhole caused your structural damage. All you have to show is that structural damage during the policy period occurred to your home.
Florida courts have clarified that if yours is an all-risk policy, your sinkhole endorsement doesn’t require you to prove a sinkhole caused your property damage claim. It instead reduces the breadth of the “earth sinking exclusion” that the homeowner’s insurance company must prove was the cause. They still have the “burden of proof” to show an exclusion applies for denial of insurance coverage, and the endorsement just makes it harder.
In other words, the insurance company arguing a sinkhole is not the cause (even if you try to prove it is), is irrelevant to what they must prove – that earth settlement from other than a sinkhole caused your property damage claim.
If you have an HO-3 policy, and your insurance company tries to put the ball in your court, they may be engaging in bad faith claims practices.
The clock starts ticking on the insurance company when you submit your proof of loss for a covered loss. It is very important to get your proof of loss prepared accurately and quickly.
If you need assistance with insurance claims, contact Clearwater insurance claims attorney Nickolas Ekonomides to learn more.