The best time to review your Florida homeowners’ policy is now – before Hurricane Season 2019 begins. Your coverage for storm damage could be a lot more complicated than you think, and you don’t want to be caught off guard if your property is damaged during a tropical storm.
The exclusions and limitations for water damage from rain can be very confusing, leaving homeowners feeling shortchanged and cheated when claims they believe are legitimate are denied. To help you prepare for another Hurricane Season, we’re going to address the issue of why Florida rain damage claims are denied and what you can do about it.
Some instances of rain damage are typically covered by Florida homeowners’ insurance, while others are not. The most common reason water damage claims are denied following a tropical storm is flooding. That is, if the rain that damaged your property touched the ground before entering your home, your insurance will not cover the damage. Damage from this type of rain water is considered flooding and is usually covered only if you have a flood insurance policy.
You might suppose that damage occurring from rain water that has not touched the ground is covered by your homeowners’ insurance, but this too can be excluded, depending on your policy. Some policies limit coverage of interior damage from rain water to that caused directly by wind damage to the exterior roof or walls of the structure. In other words, damage to your walls, floors, furniture, and other belongings is only covered if wind damage to the roof or walls was the direct cause of the water entering your home.
This policy limitation or exclusion is generally called “the wind-driven rain exclusion,” and is used to deny claims for water damage occurring within homes and businesses. For example, your insurer could claim that poor roof maintenance, not wind, led to the hole that allowed water to enter your home. In other cases, they might say your roof or your windows (if rain entered through the windows) were past their warranty, that they were installed incorrectly, or that you didn’t do enough to prevent the roof or window damage. In still other cases, flooding and wind-driven rain damage occur together, and insurance companies will try to deny your claim due to flooding.
Additional issues can arise after a hurricane or heavy wind storm damages your roof, and you and hundreds of other people are waiting to have repairs made. Typically, your repair crew will tarp the roof or use heavy plastic sheeting weighted down to cover damaged areas until the final repairs can be made. What happens if another tropical storm hits before those final repairs are made? In some cases, tarps have blown of roofs, exposing a home’s interior to rain damage. Claiming that the water did not enter the home because of damage to the roof, since a tarp is not a roof, insurance companies have denied claims.
At Malik Law, we generally advise Florida homeowners to read their policies carefully and ask their insurance agents to explain anything they don’t understand, especially exclusions, limitations, deductibles, and replacement cost and actual cash value. We also advise them to take pictures of all damage and document losses thoroughly to show the cause of the damage and the value of their losses.
Unfortunately, being thorough and knowledgeable does not preclude insurance claim denials, especially when it comes to interior water damage. Therefore, you also have to be prepared to fight for what is rightfully yours.
Experienced water damage attorneys can help you at any stage of the claims process. We can help file your claim, negotiate with your insurer on your behalf, or represent you in a lawsuit against them if your claim is not settled satisfactorily. The experienced insurance claim attorneys at Malik Law will put our legal knowledge, negotiating and litigating skills, and resources to work for you so you can collect the money you need to pay for the necessary repairs to your home.
If you need assistance, please call us at 407.500.1000 or submit the “tell us what happened” form on our website. We are here to protect your rights and are available to help you during this challenging time. Our office remains open and our staff are all working hard on existing cases as well as any new matters.
We are using the latest technology to ensure our staff remain safe and are working in accordance with CDC guidelines.