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Contact a Fort Lauderdale Homeowners Insurance Lawyer Today If Your Home Suffered Property Damage

Homeowners insurance paperwork

Homeowners in Fort Lauderdale face the constant risk of property damage from hurricanes and storm loss. Their homes are also in danger of the same perils as other homes around the country, such as fire, mold and theft. This makes it necessary for homeowners to have insurance coverage to compensate them for losses. The situation can also result in numerous coverage disputes between homeowners and their insurance carriers. When your insurance carrier fails to compensate you for property damage, you need a Fort Lauderdale homeowners insurance lawyer on your side. At the Maus Law Firm, our legal team can deal with your insurance company and take any legal steps necessary to enforce your rights.

What Types of Homeowners’ Insurance Policies are Available in Fort Lauderdale?

When shopping for homeowners’ insurance, it is important to shop for more than just the best price. There are different types of homeowners’ insurance policies, and the coverage offered under each type varies. Additionally, certain types of policies are only available for certain types of homes, so you need to make sure you buy the right type of policy for your specific needs.

The 8 Basic Types of Homeowners’ Insurance Policies

There are eight basic types of homeowners’ insurance policies available in Fort Lauderdale. These are standard policy forms that are offered by most insurance companies. However, individual companies’ policies can still vary in terms of what is covered and what isn’t, and this means that you need to carefully review the terms of your policy (or have a Fort Lauderdale property damage lawyer review the terms of your policy for you) to ensure that you have the coverage you need.

The eight basic types of homeowners’ insurance policies that are available to Fort Lauderdale residents are:

  • HO-1 – An HO-1 policy is the most-basic type of homeowners’ insurance policy. Due to the very limited cover it offers, this policy type is rarely used.
  • HO-2 – These policies offer slightly more coverage than HO-1 policies, but the coverage is still inadequate for most homeowners’ needs.
  • HO-3 – This is the most-common type of homeowners’ insurance policy, as it provides decent coverage for most South Florida homeowners and costs less than a more-comprehensive HO-5 policy.
  • HO-4 – Not technically a homeowners’ policy, the HO-4 policy provides coverage for renters. This includes coverage for personal property contained within the rented dwelling.
  • HO-5 – An HO-5 policy provides the greatest coverage for homeowners, and will typically be your best option if you can afford it.
  • HO-6 – If you own a condo, an HO-6 policy provides “walls in” coverage, meaning that it protects your individual condo unit and everything inside.
  • HO-7 – HO-7 policies provide coverage for mobile homes similar to the coverage provided for permanent residences under HO-2 policies.
  • HO-8 – HO-8 policies are available to homeowners whose properties do not qualify for coverage under the other policy types listed above. This includes properties that are more than 40 years old.

Homeowners’ Insurance Does Not Cover Flood Damage

Crucially for homeowners in Fort Lauderdale, none of the policy types listed above provide coverage for flood damage. In order to be covered in the event that a hurricane or tropical storm causes flood damage to your home, you will need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. While you can buy insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), this is no longer required in Florida, and Section 627.715 of the Florida Statutes establishes terms and conditions for private insurers that offer flood insurance coverage.

How Can a Fort Lauderdale Homeowners Insurance Lawyer Help with Your Claim?

Dealing with a homeowner’s insurance claim is never easy. Not only are you forced to contend with the challenges of the insurance claim process, but you must do so while living in a damaged home. In many cases, there is also a very real possibility that the damage could get worse while you wait for your insurance company to take action.

Given these challenges, you should consider speaking with a Fort Lauderdale homeowners insurance lawyer. At Maus Law Firm, we offer free initial consultations, and we are happy to help you make informed decisions about your insurance claim. Here are some more examples of what we can do to help:

  • Review the terms of your policy to determine what coverage you have available
  • Review the information you submitted to your insurance company
  • Examine your insurance company’s practices to date and determine if they are appropriate
  • Get in touch with your adjuster to determine the status of your claim
  • Communicate with your adjuster on your behalf to ensure your claim is handled appropriately
  • Work to negotiate a favorable settlement that allows you to get your home repaired as quickly as possible
  • Take legal action against your insurance company if necessary

When you have a homeowner’s insurance claim, there is a careful balance you need to strike. You need to give your insurance company enough time to process your claim, but you also need to avoid letting an unjustified delay or denial linger. When you contact us, we can tell you if it is time to enhance your efforts to secure coverage—and if it is, we can take appropriate legal action on your behalf.

What Claims are Handled by a Florida Homeowners Insurance Lawyer?

The following types of property damage are commonly covered under Florida homeowners insurance policies and predictably, there are often coverage disputes over these types of damage.

  • Fire: Property coverage for fires includes both burned property and property that suffers fire-related damage, such as smoke and heat. Fire damage is generally covered, since it is one of the most common perils for homes.
  • Storms: Storm coverage usually includes coverage for damage resulting from excessive wind, rain or storm surge.
  • Mold: Coverage for mold or mildew is often excluded from coverage or there may be coverage limitations. Since mold commonly occurs after water damage, Fort Lauderdale homeowners need to be especially aware of this type of coverage. Contact our Fort Lauderdale homeowners insurance lawyer if you have any questions.
  • Water Damage (Not Storm-Related): Water leaks and pipe breaks are two common causes of this type of property damage.
  • Theft & Vandalism: Homeowners insurance policies in Florida generally cover both these risks. There is often a maximum amount the carrier will pay for personal belongings that are stolen or damaged.

Insurance Damage Repair in Florida

Most major Florida homeowner property damage insurance companies are now including a provision in their insurance policies that allows the insurance company to actually have the repairs performed, by their contractor. State Farm, Universal, Federated National, Tower Hill, Florida Peninsula and People’s Trust are just a few of the numerous Florida homeowner insurance companies that are now incorporating a “right to repair” clause into their policy.

The “right to repair” clause is similar to car insurance policies that set forth how and where a car can be fixed. The problem with the right to repair clause is that you, the homeowner or business owner, lose control over the repairs being made. The “right to repair” clause is just another example of how homeowner insurance policies are getting more and more complicated, and why it is best to find the best property damage attorney you can find to represent you in your claim.

Why was Your Homeowner’s Insurance Claim Denied?

If you find yourself facing a denial of homeowner’s insurance coverage, one of the first questions you need to answer is, “Why?” Insurance companies deny and underpay claims for various reasons—some of which are legitimate and some of which amount to insurance bad faith.

If your insurance company has a legitimate basis for denying your claim or paying less than you were expecting, then there may ultimately be little that a Fort Lauderdale homeowners insurance lawyer can do to help. However, denials and underpayments are frequently unjustified, and you should not assume that your insurance company’s decision is final.

When you hire a Fort Lauderdale homeowners insurance lawyer to evaluate your claim, your lawyer will examine questions such as:

  • Did your homeowner’s insurance company conduct a timely investigation?
  • Have you submitted all information required for your claim?  
  • Is the damage to your home covered under the terms of your policy (or does a coverage exclusion apply)?
  • Do you have a reasonable expectation as to the amount of coverage to which you are entitled?
  • What justification (if any) has your insurance company given for its coverage determination?

Based on the answers to these questions, your lawyer can then determine if you have grounds to challenge your homeowner’s insurance claim denial. Some common grounds for challenging claim denials include:

  • Failing to promptly conduct a thorough investigation
  • Ignoring relevant information that you submitted in support of your claim
  • Improperly calculating repair or replacement value for your home or your home’s contents
  • Improperly interpreting or applying the terms of your homeowner’s insurance policy
  • Intentionally making a “low ball” settlement offer

How Do Home Insurers Give Policyholders the Runaround?

Unfortunately, there are numerous ways in which Fort Lauderdale home insurance companies give the runaround to policyholders. They can be generally grouped as follows:  (1) delays in processing or paying claims and (2 low settlement offers for claims.

Insurance Company Delays Can be Managed by a Fort Lauderdale Homeowners Insurance Lawyer

Another common tactic of insurance companies is to delay processing and payment of claims. However, a Fort Lauderdale homeowners insurance lawyer can prod the carrier to get the ball rolling. By taking over communications with the carrier and advocating on the policyholder’s behalf, the insurer may be prompted to speed up the process. Under Florida law and the terms of most policies, the policyholder is entitled to reasonable speed in the processing of their claim.

Low Settlement Offers 

The carrier may also make a “lowball” settlement offer on the claim which severely undervalues the actual damage. Homeowners who do not know any better may be tempted to accept these low offers. This is where it is advisable to consult with a homeowners insurance lawyer who can evaluate the claimed damage and the offer. The attorney can also deal directly with the carrier on your behalf to negotiate any insurance payouts.

Has Your Homeowner’s Insurance Company Mismanaged Your Claim?

In many cases, homeowner’s insurance claim delays and denials are the result of mismanagement. Insurance companies process an extremely high volume of claims, and some are better at managing this volume than others. However, being busy or lacking necessary resources is not an excuse, and if your insurer has mismanaged your claim, a Fort Lauderdale home insurance lawyer may be able to help you secure the coverage you are owed.

Here are some common signs of homeowner’s insurance claim mismanagement:

  • Delaying or mishandling the insurance investigation
  • Losing track of photos, videos or other information you submitted
  • Failing to keep you updated about progress with your claim
  • Failing to respond to your communications in a timely manner
  • Denying your claim without a reasoned explanation

If you are concerned that your homeowner’s insurance claim is being mismanaged, you should consult with a lawyer promptly. Your lawyer can determine if your insurance company’s actions (or lack thereof) are reasonable and can take action to help you secure coverage if necessary.

Can You Also Sue Your Homeowner’s Insurance Agent for Negligence?

In some cases, insurance companies will deny coverage because either (i) there was not a policy in place when the damage occurred, or (ii) the policy that was in place does not provide the necessary coverage. If you thought you had the necessary coverage, but it turns out you did not, you may have a claim against your homeowner’s insurance agent for negligence. Some common examples of homeowner’s insurance agent negligence include:

  • Failure to accurately explain homeowner’s insurance coverage options
  • Failure to accurately complete a homeowner’s insurance application
  • Failure to timely process a homeowner’s insurance application
  • Failure to sign up a homeowner for necessary or desired coverage
  • Failure to notify you of an impending cancellation of coverage

Consult a Fort Lauderdale Homeowners Insurance Lawyer at the Maus Law Firm

If your homeowners insurance company is not fairly compensating you or handling your claim promptly, contact the Maus Law Firm to assert your rights and force the carrier to honor its obligations. Insurance policies and insurance law are both complex, so you need experienced counsel by your side. With over 130 jury trials under our belts and millions of dollars recovered for clients, we are well-equipped to serve you in your insurance dispute. For a consultation, contact the Maus Law Firm or call 855-999-5297 today and see how a Fort Lauderdale homeowners insurance lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

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