Our Skilled Fort Lauderdale Pipe Burst Attorneys Can Help After Water Damage
If you have had a pipe burst in your home, you could be facing significant water damage and related property losses. As such, it is critical that you secure the compensation to which you are entitled under your applicable insurance policy. Our Fort Lauderdale water damage attorneys can help.
Sadly, many policyholders do not realize that their insurers are not “on the same page” with respect to a claim payout. Though advertising campaigns paint insurers as reliable allies, the truth differs greatly. Unfortunately, insurers routinely deny otherwise legitimate pipe burst claims, offer inadequate payouts, excessively delay the processing of such claims and engage in various other tactics that do not coincide with the interests of policyholders. In order to successfully recover compensation for a pipe burst claim, it may be necessary to bring an action against the insurer under Florida law.
Common Insurance Issues Relating to Pipe Burst and Broken Pipe Claims in Florida
Water Damage Coverage and Natural Disasters
Homeowners’ insurance policies typically cover water damage, but many specifically exclude flood damage. This can lead to disputes when it’s not quite clear whether the water damage at-issue was caused by the pipe burst or by flooding. For example, if your home floods due to a hurricane or severe rainstorm, the flood may combine with other causes to create damage to your home. In such cases, Florida’s concurrent causation policy may still allow you to recover for your property damage even though a flood contributed to creating some of the damage.
Inadequate Maintenance Leading to a Pipe Burst
Many insurance policies contain an exclusion for damage caused due to defective or inadequate maintenance. This defense is raised frequently when a water supply line breaks near your sink or washing machine, or when a drain pipe breaks due to age. However, most homeowners don’t go through their homes looking for hoses that may break, or dig under their house to see if a pipe is rusting. Homeowner insurance policies cover “sudden and accidental” losses, and as such, most pipe breaks that involve a broken water supply line or drain pipe should be covered.
Managed Repair Programs
Many homeowner insurance policies have started to include “managed repair” programs. These programs allow an insurance company to repair damage caused by a pipe break by using a contractor the insurance company chooses. These managed repair programs raise a whole new set of issues with insurance claims because it takes decisions about how to repair the home out of the homeowner’s hands.
For example, you may not be satisfied with the scope of repairs that the insurance company wants to perform, when the work is going to be performed and by whom, the quality of the work, or the materials used in the work. These are just a few issues that are now being fought over in Florida courts dealing with managed repair programs. If you have a managed repair insurance policy, contact our Fort Lauderdale water damage attorneys to make sure you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to receive.
FAQs: Issues with Homeowner’s Insurance Pipe Burst Claims
How Long Does My Insurance Company Have to Evaluate My Pipe Burst Claim?
Under Florida law, your homeowner’s insurance company has up to 90 days to evaluate your pipe burst claim, “unless the failure to pay is caused by factors beyond the control of the insurer which reasonably prevent such payment.” However, most pipe burst claims should not take nearly this long; and, if your insurance company delays payment on your claim unnecessarily, you may be entitled to additional compensation for insurance bad faith.
How Can I Determine if My Homeowner’s Policy Includes a Managed Repair Program?
You can review the terms of your homeowner’s policy to see if it includes a managed repair program. Or, if you prefer, you can ask a Fort Lauderdale pipe burst lawyer to review your policy for you.
What you do not want to do is rely on your insurance company to tell you if your policy includes a managed repair program. Even if your policy does not have a managed repair program, your insurance company might still try to get you to use its “preferred contractors.” These contractors are not preferred because they do good work but because they do the minimum required so that the insurance companies can pay as little as possible.
What Can I Do if My Insurance Company Denies Coverage Based on Inadequate Maintenance?
If your insurance company denies coverage for your claim based on inadequate maintenance, you should promptly contact a Fort Lauderdale pipe burst lawyer. While these denials can be valid, they frequently are not. Accusing homeowners of insufficient maintenance is a common insurance defense tactic, and your lawyer can argue that you did what was necessary to preserve your right to coverage.
My Insurance Company Won’t Cover My Pipe Burst Claim—What Should I Do?
While accusing homeowners of inadequate maintenance is a common defense tactic, it is far from the only reason why insurance companies deny pipe burst claims. If your insurance company has denied your pipe burst claim for any reason, you should:
- Thoroughly document the damage to your home
- Collect any records you have relating to prior maintenance or repairs
- Collect all communications you have from your insurance adjuster
- Locate your homeowner’s insurance policy
- Contact a lawyer for a free consultation
When Should I Think about Hiring a Fort Lauderdale Pipe Burst Lawyer?
Many homeowners hesitate to contact a lawyer when they are dealing with an insurance claim. However, if you are struggling to obtain coverage, we strongly encourage you to contact us right away. We can deal with your insurance company for you, and we can use our experience to help make sure you receive the full coverage to which you are legally entitled.
If My Insurance Company is Delaying Payment, Can I Try to Repair My Home Myself?
Maybe. While homeowners can perform their own repairs in some cases, some homeowner’s insurance policies include “right to repair” provisions that entitle their insurers to do the necessary work. If you are struggling to secure coverage and are thinking about making repairs on your own, we recommend that you speak with a Fort Lauderdale pipe burst lawyer before doing so.
Contact the Fort Lauderdale Pipe Burst Lawyers at the Maus Law Firm for a Free Consultation
Homeowners’ insurance policyholders who have had a pipe burst (thus leading to serious water damage in their home) should consult with a qualified attorney to ensure that they have adequate representation as early as possible. Insurers count on their policyholders to make procedural “mistakes” — such as disclosing sensitive information in communications with an insurance adjuster. These missteps can be reduced by a qualified attorney who will serve as a guiding force and communication middleman throughout the claims process.
At Maus Law Firm, our team of experienced Fort Lauderdale water damage attorneys has represented numerous policyholders, including those whose claims center around a pipe burst event. We are relentless advocates for our clients who are adamant about securing a favorable result regardless of the difficulty of the underlying insurance dispute.