Property Insurance Laws for Damage Claims

Dealing with property damage and getting an insurance claim approved can be confusing and frustrating for Miami homeowners. Navigating complex property insurance laws and policies often requires help from professionals who have extensive experience in this area. This blog post will break down key information Miami residents need about making damage claims on their home insurance after events like hurricanes, floods, or fires.

Our team of skilled attorneys at Cernitz Law has guided clients through car accident claims. For more information, call our team at 305-370-3255

What Types Of Damage Are Typically Covered?

Most standard home insurance policies in Miami cover damage caused by the following perils:

  • Hurricanes 

  • Tropical storms

  • Wind damage

  • Hail 

  • Lightning

  • Riot or civil commotion  

  • Damage from vehicles 

  • Smoke

  • Vandalism or malicious mischief

  • Theft

  • Falling objects

  • Weight of ice, snow, or sleet

  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or fire protection system, or from within a household appliance.

Additionally, some policies may also cover sinkholes, mold, and fires. Miami residents need to check their specific policy wording to see exact coverages. It’s important to note that damage from flooding is not covered under standard home insurance. Flood insurance must be purchased separately.

How Does The Claims Process Work?

After property damage occurs, the first step a homeowner should take is to contact a property damage attorney. Miami homeowners should then take the following steps when filing an insurance claim:

  1. Document damage – Take photographs and videos showing the destruction inflicted on the home and personal belongings. Safely collect any receipts for repairs or replacements done out-of-pocket after the incident.

  1. Notify the insurance provider – Contact the insurance company or agent immediately after the damage occurs. There are often specific time limits for reporting claims. Provide details about what happened and the type and extent of damage noted.

  1. Obtain claim number – The insurer will provide a claim number and forms to complete. The policyholder must answer all questions with clear, accurate details and submit any related documentation.

  1. Allow inspection – A claims adjuster representing the insurance company will likely do an in-person inspection. They will thoroughly assess the damage, and take measurements and photographs. The policyholder or their representative should participate in the inspection whenever possible. 

  1.  Receive estimate – Based on the adjustor’s inspection, the insurance company will estimate repairs and/or replacement costs entitled to coverage. If this estimate seems insufficient, the policyholder can advocate for a more appropriate amount.

  1. Get paid – Finally, after agreeing on the claim value and providing all necessary paperwork, the insurance company will issue payment. They may opt to pay contractors directly or compensate the policyholder.

How Are Payments Calculated?

Insurance firms will base claim payments on the actual cash value or replacement cost value of damaged items. Here is how they determine these amounts:

  • Actual Cash Value (ACV) – This equals the original purchase price minus any accumulated depreciation over time. ACV is often used for claims involving older roofs, appliances, flooring, etc.

  • Replacement Cost Value (RCV) – As the name implies, this gives reimbursement at today’s prices for comparable replacement items or materials. RCV is frequently used when repairing or rebuilding damaged structures.

The type of coverage and limits outlined in the issued home insurance policy dictate which method is used for adjustments. Common caps often apply, such as paying only a percentage of ACV for certain categories. Knowing these technical details helps customers better negotiate and maximize claim benefits. It is important to speak with a property damage attorney about your claim. 

What Factors Can Delay Or Deny A Claim?

While damage from a covered peril generally results in claim approval and timely payment, sometimes issues can complicate the process. Common reasons an insurer may delay settling a claim or deny it altogether include:

  • Dispute over amount – Conflicting assessments on repair estimates between contractors and insurance appraisers can stall agreement on the appropriate claim value.

  • Causation uncertainty – It may be unclear whether the damage stems directly from a covered event versus pre-existing issues with the property. 

  • Past history – Previous frequent or recent claims filed can raise suspicions of fraud, causing heightened insurer scrutiny.

Additionally, the policy wording may exclude paying benefits for damage relating to:

  • Existing property conditions – Examples are wear-and-tear maintenance issues, leaks from old pipes, flawed original construction materials, etc.  

  • Power outages or electrical issues – Burst freezers, spoiled food, and computer damage from a blackout are typically excluded.

  • Earth movement –Unless added coverage is purchased, claims from earthquakes, mudslides, or sinking ground rarely qualify under basic policies.

  •  Neglect – Situations where the policyholder failed to take reasonable care of their home may disqualify claims. E.g. Not winterizing pipes or cleaning gutters leading to ice dams or water intrusion.

  • Theft – Stealing of property might not be covered if reasonable safety precautions were not taken, such as locking doors and windows.

How Can A Public Adjuster Assist With Claims?

A public adjuster is a licensed professional who advocates for policyholders during the claims process. These damage experts assist by:

  • Inspecting the property damage to provide an independent assessment 

  • Communicating with the insurer’s claims adjuster regarding policy questions

  • Advising clients on technical policy language and eligible benefits 

  • Negotiating claim settlements to maximize reimbursement recovery

  • Preparing, documenting, and submitting all necessary claim paperwork

  • Resolving any disputes that arise over the amount owed  

They receive payment as a fixed percentage of the settled claim amount. Hiring a public adjuster often leads to more favorable claim resolutions for policyholders.

5 Key Questions To Ask About Claims

  1. Am I eligible to make a claim under my coverage terms?

  1. What key steps must I take when reporting storm, fire or flood damage?  

  1. What documentation or evidence should I gather myself when filing a claim?

  1. How are actual cash value and replacement cost value adjusted? 

  1. Is hiring a public adjuster worth the money?

Contacting your Miami property insurance lawyer can offer personalized guidance on making a property damage claim, deciphering policy provisions, and negotiating the optimum settlement. 

Let a trusted legal professional advocate for the best possible outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I Make A Claim If Damage Results From A Power Outage During A Storm?

Standard home insurance policies typically exclude coverage and reimbursement for power outage issues. Separate coverage must be purchased to protect electrical systems, appliances, and food spoilage from a blackout. Contact your Miami property insurance lawyer for guidance.  

  1. Does My Insurer Pay ACV or RCV For Replacing Personal Property Like Furniture? 

Personal possessions are generally subject to actual cash value (ACV) depreciation. This means the original price minus a deduction for usage over time. Only in rare cases is full replacement cost value (RCV) provided for content claims. Miami property insurance lawyers can explain exceptions.

  1. If My Damaged Roof Was Already 20 Years Old, Will Its Replacement Still Be Covered In My Claim?

Even for a worn roof near the end of its useful lifespan, insurers still provide coverage for storm damage based on actual cash value, taking depreciation into account. The calculation may cover only a small portion of the total replacement cost. Discuss optimization tips with legal professionals.  

  1. Can I Get Compensation For Having To Stay At A Hotel While My Home Undergoes Repairs? 

Additional living expense coverage may be included in home insurance policies or added optionally. This helps pay the costs of temporary accommodations if a covered incident makes a residence uninhabitable during active repairs. Rules on amounts and time limits apply.

  1. My Next-Door Neighbor Had Fence And Patio Damage In The Same Storm But Their Claim Got Approved Faster. Why? 

Many variables affect insurance claim processing speeds after storms. Higher-value claims often take longer to assess accurately. For internal risk purposes, insurers may request more details or conduct more rigorous inspections when claims reach certain dollar levels. Also, differences in policy types, coverages, and claim histories impact response times across customers. Consult your Miami property insurance lawyer for insights on expediting resolution.

Considering a Property Damage Attorney? 

Do not leave claim outcome potential to chance. The financial implications of having appropriate home repairs and replacements covered are too significant. Stay proactive and seek counsel from property insurance legal professionals should any denial reasons or delays arise after you report storm destruction. With professional guidance, expect favorable claim experiences, properly restored homes, and optimal financial recoveries.

Cernitz Law advocates for clients and develops a strategic approach to ensure you receive the proper compensation for your property damage claim. For more information, call our team at 305-370-3255