Same Old Story: Insurance Delays, Denials, and Coverage Issues

Having your home or belongings destroyed or damaged by a hurricane, storm, or other natural disaster can be a traumatic experience. It can be even worse if your insurance company refuses to pay to repair or replace your property. Though insurance companies are tough to fight, you do have rights. When Hurricane Ian moved through Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Matlacha, Pine Island, Fort Myers, and the surrounding coastal areas, it left monumental devastation.

A combination of high winds and heavy rainfall caused Hurricane Ian's damage. The problem for property owners is that flood insurance must be obtained separately through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

While a standard homeowner’s policy covers damages from wind and wind-driven rain, many charge separate wind deductibles, which means higher out-of-pocket costs. The deductibles are usually based on a percentage (roughly 5% to 10%) of your coverage rather than a flat dollar amount.

Here are some reasons for a denial that the insurance company might give:

No coverage

An insurance policy covers only what’s in its written policy. If you have a type of loss covered by the policy, the insurance company must pay you.

Pre-existing damage 

Natural wear and tear and inadequate maintenance on the part of the property owner may result in a surprise insurance claim denial. Even if the hurricane contributed to the damages, the insurance company may claim that the actual cause is the homeowner failing to do routine maintenance before the accident.

Missing premium payments 

Skipping a premium payment can cause an insurance policy to lapse.

Lack of evidence of losses 

Insurance claims are based on documentation. You need to submit photographs, videos, or other documentation to explain to the insurance company what losses you have and what compensation you deserve. If insufficient evidence is the reason for the denial, additional documentation may result in a different decision.

Policy limits

Expect payment up to the amount of your policy limit.

For example, suppose your home is insured for $500,000 with a 5% wind deductible, and you have $30,000 worth of roof and siding damage from high winds. You’re responsible for $25,000, with your insurance covering only $5,000 of the damages.

While an insurance adjuster may sometimes find a legitimate reason to deny your claim or pay out less than they should, it is often done in bad faith to get the policyholder to accept much less than their claim value. In some cases, insurers have been found to go even further and cross the line into outright fraud by misrepresenting what is and is not insured under a policy.

Hurricane Ian insurance adjusters will be bombarded with a heavy workload immediately after a hurricane. They arrive at the scene from hundreds of miles away, often unfamiliar with the area and only staying there for weeks.

Here are some of the things to watch out for when dealing with an insurance adjuster:

  • Unreasonable delays in the processing of the claim.
  • Falsely denying that your policy covers damage from the storm.
  • Making other false and misleading statements about what your policy covers.
  • Making a lowball settlement offer.
  • Pressuring you to sign a written release of supplemental claims to receive your settlement.

In addition to undervaluing damages and raising deductibles, insurance companies may not consider the actual cost to repair and replace the damage or the current realities of workforce and supply demands to the areas affected by the storm.

The point here is that you need to be sure that you and the claims adjuster are talking about the same thing. And remember that they are not motivated to help you sort one kind of damage from another so that you can get paid—quite the opposite, which is why you need a skilled hurricane damage lawyer. Don’t sign or agree to anything until you consult an insurance claim expert. Once you settle for a small sum, it will be tough to return and ask for more money. You can do that, and indeed, you should if they underpaid your claim unjustly. The law allows you to reopen a claim, but you must bring in additional proof. The statute of limitation for supplemental claims of losses is three years from the date of the hurricane or storm that damaged your property.

How Williams Law, P.A. Can Help With Your Insurance Claim?

Applying the many terms, conditions, and exclusions can be challenging to understand. It is not uncommon for insurance professionals to deny claims improperly based on inappropriate application of the policy’s exclusions.  Suppose your insurance company underpaid or denied your claim, or you’re in the process of filing a claim. In that case, our Florida hurricane damage lawyers can negotiate for a total payout, sometimes beyond what is listed on your policy. 

We will review the details of your policy to help you determine what is covered under your policy. 

Has Your Home Insurance Company Denied or Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim in Florida?

If your insurance company is dragging its feet regarding your property damage claim, you should speak with an experienced insurance claim lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Florida law office at 800.451.6786 to schedule your free consultation. We help Florida residents like you fight the big insurance companies who fail to abide by their policies. Remember, we work on a contingent basis, meaning you don't pay us anything until we win your case. 

K.C. Williams III
Managing Partner who has spent his entire career representing Florida insurance and personal injury claims.
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