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Homeowner Insurance Claims

In Florida, we are currently in the middle of hurricane season. With it, come the possibility of roof damage, structural damage caused by high winds – this is known as “racking” a house, flood damage, and other possibilities. It is possible that you will have to file a claim against your insurance company.

I think there is a common belief among homeowners and policyholders that their insurance company will stand by them and do the right thing when they submit a claim. Experience has taught us that this is not always the case. If your insurance company denied your claim, you likely still have recourse if you think your claim should be covered. The insurance company likely hired an adjuster and possibly an attorney to evaluate your claim and determine if there is coverage. It is important to remember that insurance adjusters and attorneys are working for the insurance company and in doing so, have the company’s bottom line in mind.

Also, if the insurance company accepted coverage and paid an amount for your claim, it could still be less than you are entitled to recover under your insurance policy. Policy owners may be deterred from fighting the denial or the short pay because of the fees and costs associated with litigation and the appraisal process. Even when a policyholder prevails and proves an insurer underpaid or wrongfully denied a claim, the cost of litigation could far outweigh the benefits. Policyholders should not fear the insurance companies and their large legal teams because if they wrongfully deny or under pay your claim, Florida Statute §627.428 allows a policyholder to recover attorney’s fees and costs to help even the odds for the individual homeowner who doesn’t have attorneys on staff.

  • 627.428 (1) Upon the rendition of a judgment or decree by any of the courts of this state against an insurer and in favor of any named or omnibus insured or the named beneficiary under a policy or contract executed by the insurer, the trial court or, in the event of an appeal in which the insured or beneficiary prevails, the appellate court shall adjudge or decree against the insurer and in favor of the insured or beneficiary a reasonable sum as fees or compensation for the insured’s or beneficiary’s attorney prosecuting the suit in which the recovery is had.

A simple example illustrates the significance of this statute: let’s imagine Paul Policyholder (PP) makes a claim due to roof damage associated with a storm. The roof repairs cost $6,000. The insurance company asserts the claim is only worth $5,000 and refuses to pay the remaining $1,000. PP hires an attorney to fight the short pay and to recover the full amount of the claim. The recovery after litigation is an additional $1,000, and Florida Statute §627.428 allows PP to recover attorney’s fees in addition to the $1,000 in benefits so PP receives the full $6,000 for the work done.

To reiterate, if the suit against the insurance company is successful, the insurance company is responsible for the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees over and above the amount of the judgment against the insurance company. As a result, the insured gets the whole amount they were shorted, and the insurance company has to pay the attorney’s fees. It doesn’t cost the insured anything for the attorney or the process if the claim is legitimate.

If your insurance company denies, delays, or underpays your claim, Kovar Law Group can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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