Many times, we find that even though a Florida insurance company will offer a policyholder coverage for an insurance claim involving property damage, the insurer will look for every opportunity to pay as little money as possible for the covered damages. Given how often this is done, we felt it is important to discuss a policyholder’s rights when faced with the problem of not having enough money to make repairs to their damaged home or business after suffering a loss with a Florida insurance company.
Some insurance companies in Florida, including the biggest insurer, Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, regularly engage in the business practice of lowballing their policyholders when it comes time to make payment on a covered claim. Unfortunately, without enough insurance money to complete repairs to the damaged home, underpaid policyholders are typically forced to reduce the cost of repairing the damage by:
- Making substandard repairs for less money
- Finding a less qualified and/or less experienced contractor to repair your home for cheaper than a (same may even have to forget about having a contractor entirely)
- Reducing or eliminating certain necessary repairs to reduce to total cost
- Sacrificing on the quality of repairs
However, you do not have to accept the amount offered to you by your insurance company. If you think you were underpaid by your insurance company, contact Schatzman & Hovanyecz, P.A. for a free consultation. We will be able to assess your claim, evaluate your damages, and ensure that you receive maximum recovery while protecting the rights afforded to you by your insurance policy and Florida law.
This post is a first in our series discussing some common types of insurance claims that consumers may not be aware could be covered by their homeowners insurance policies. This post will address homeowner insurance coverage issues arising from broken, deteriorated, clogged, or otherwise damaged drain lines.
Drain lines, or sanitary lines, are the plumbing lines that run underneath your home and carry away liquid and solid waste to the municipal sewer system or your septic tank. Unlike the plumbing system that brings clean water into your home, drain lines are unpressurized and take waste away from your home by the forces of gravity. There are many older homes in Broward, Palm-Beach and Miami-Dade Counties that were built years ago using cast iron drain lines that are now starting to fail. Like many other metals, cast iron is susceptible to corrosion, rust, deterioration, and damage caused by root growth. When your drain lines are damaged, harmful water containing sewage could be released into your home through open drains, overflowing toilets or sinks, or from other openings in the drain system. Occasionally, the leaking water and sewage can even make its way up through the foundation of the home, typically through and open drain.
Many times, the leaking water or sewage will result in damage to a policyholder’s home leading consumers to question whether they should file a claim or whether such damage is even covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Nevertheless, even if the water damage is covered, many insurance companies will refuse to pay for the repair to the drain lines themselves. The plumbing repairs in these situations can be quite expensive, running into the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars.
The answer of whether your insurance company will provide coverage in such a situation will always depend on the specific facts of your claim; however, there are certain things you can do to ensure the best chance of a positive outcome with your insurance company. First and foremost, call a reputable plumber to diagnose your problem. Sometimes, it could be something as simple as paper towels clogging your drain lines. Other times, it could be something much more costly and serious such as a total drain line failure. It is important, and likely even a requirement under your insurance policy, that you take reasonable steps in addressing the cause of the damage in order to minimize any further damage, so obtaining a diagnosis from a licensed, qualified plumber is a must. Always request invoices and documentation from your plumber and never throw away any damaged plumbing parts or pieces until an inspection has been conducted by your insurance company.
Next, it is crucial that you take photographs of any water, sewage or damage in your home. Ask your plumber to take photos and use your own camera or cell phone to take your own. Your insurance company will want to see these photos. The more photographs and documentation you have to support your claim and damages, the better.
Finally, you are going to need to promptly contact your insurance carrier to report your claim. This can be the beginning of a daunting and lengthy process and its important that you understand you rights and obligations under your insurance policy. Give us a call today to discuss the specific facts of your claim and what we can do to help you through the process.
With the first named storm of the season having already caused flooding and damage to Florida, now is a good time to make sure you are prepared for what is predicted to be a very busy 2013 storm season. The National Hurricane Center has a great guide for everything you need to be prepared. Just click the link below:
National Hurricane Center Preparedness Week
Feel free to give us a call if you would like to know more about how to prepare your home for the hurricane season.