Frequently Asked Questions About Insurance Claims and Coverage in Florida
Below are answers to some of the questions most frequently asked questions regarding insurance disputes. If you have other questions, or if you need immediate assistance dealing with a property damage or personal injury claim, contact my office for a free consultation.
Can the insurance company refuse to cover my claim and pay any benefits?
Insurance policies are complex legal documents, and there may be valid reasons why the insurance company denied your claim. You may not have fulfilled your obligations under the policy, such as providing notice of loss in a timely manner, or your claim may be outside the scope of the policy, such as filing a flood damage claim under a homeowner policy. It is entirely possible, however, that the insurance company got the facts wrong, or even that they are acting in bad faith. If your claim is denied, contact an experienced insurance claims attorney who can review your policy and the facts of the situation and determine whether your claim was wrongfully denied.
What do I do when there is a coverage dispute?
Call my office for a free consultation. Every situation is unique. I may be able to work with the insurance carrier and convince the carrier that the claim should be covered. If a resolution cannot be reached, I may be able to seek a declaratory judgment in court or pursue other litigation for a judicial determination of your rights under the policy.
I filed a claim, but instead of covering the claim, the insurance company canceled my policy. Can they do that?
When you apply for insurance, there may be language on the application to the effect that if any of the information provided is inaccurate or incomplete, the insurer has the right to cancel or rescind the policy. The problem is that the insurance company may issue the policy without ever checking the information to verify that it is accurate. It is simply unjust for the insurance company to accept your application and cheerfully take your premiums month after month, year after year, only to find some reason to cancel you when you file a claim. Not only is this practice unfair, it may be unlawful and unreasonable bad faith insurance, and the company may be liable to you for money damages.
What is the difference between flood damage and water damage?
These terms can be confusing. After all, any damage caused by water would seem to be water damage, and if a sink overflows and floods a room in your house, you may think you have flood damage. But not all water damage is “water damage,” and not all flooding is “flood damage.” According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a flood is:
- • A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder’s property) from:
- • Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or
- • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
- • Mudflow; or
- • Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.
Heavy rains and rising waters are the main reasons behind flooding, but your house may be flooded by more than just the rain itself, such as an overflow from storm water or wastewater drains caused by the flooding.
Your homeowner’s policy may cover water damage, but it will not cover flood damage. For that, you need flood insurance offered through the National Flood Insurance Program. If you are unsure about what type of damage you have, call Florida Defense Law, P.A. for a free consultation. Our flood insurance lawyers have years of experience diagnosing water damage and flood damage claims and helping disaster victims recover from the appropriate insurance carrier.
The insurance company says my sinkhole damage was caused by something else. What can I do?
It is true that not every hole that opens up in the ground is a sinkhole. A sinkhole is generally caused when water erosion creates a path for surface water to travel underground, causing a depression or hole when the soil is carried away by the water. But soil loss can be caused by other methods, including the ongoing shrinking and swelling of clay minerals in the ground, the action of tree roots and vegetation on the soil, a change in the level of groundwater, the settling of a foundation, or when trash and debris is buried under a foundation during construction.
Much of Florida is prime sinkhole territory, and chances are that your damage was caused by a sinkhole. While it is true that the cause of a soil depression can be difficult to diagnose, you should not necessarily take the word of the insurance adjuster. There are tests that can be performed to determine the cause of your damage and whether it is covered by insurance or not. Call my office, and I will help you create an action plan to address your concerns and help you meet your goals.