As a Florida property owner, you have undoubtedly purchased insurance to protect your investment from damage or loss caused by the powerful storms that ravage the state each year during the Atlantic hurricane season. If you filed a claim after suffering roof damage, you understandably expect your insurance company to pay that claim in full. If, instead, your claim is underpaid, what can you do? The good news is that if your insurance company fails to fully compensate you for a roof damage claim, there are steps you can take to get your claim paid in full.
Why Was My Roof Damage Claim Underpaid?
When a roof is damaged, it can not only cause additional damage inside the home or business but if the damage is serious enough it can render the property uninhabitable. Getting the roof repaired or replaced as soon as possible is crucial. With that in mind, you filed a claim with your insurance company immediately, only have that claim underpaid. Unfortunately, there are several common explanations your insurance company might give you for failing to pay your roof damage claim in full, including:
Third-party liability. Insurance companies often claim a third party is partially (or even entirely) responsible for damage to a roof. They might claim that the roof was not properly installed, for example, which made it vulnerable to damage. That assertion is then used as the justification for failing to pay a claim in full.
Underestimating the value. An adjuster from your insurance company likely came out and viewed the damage. That same adjuster then prepared an estimate that should reflect the cost to repair or replace the roof. All too often, however, an insurance adjuster underestimates the real-world cost to repair or replace your roof.
Failure to mitigate damages. As an insured, you do have an obligation to “mitigate” damages. This means you are required to take reasonable steps to prevent additional losses when your property sustains damage. Insurance companies may claim that some damage included in your claim was the result of your failure to mitigate damages and, therefore, they are not responsible for reimbursing you for that portion of the claim.
Exclusions. Insurance companies frequently look for ways to claim that damage or loss falls under an “exclusion” to reduce the amount they pay out in claims.
Repair vs. replace. To avoid the significantly higher cost of tearing off and replacing your roof, your insurance company may claim the roof can be repaired when it really needs to be replaced.
Missing forms/documents. As you probably now know, filing an insurance claim can involve submitting a mountain of paperwork and supporting evidence to your insurance company. If you failed to submit any of the documents requested by your insurance company, they may use that as an excuse to underpay your roof damage claim.
What Can I Do If My Roof Damage Claim Was Underpaid?
Realizing that your insurance company failed to fully compensate you for the damage to your roof can add frustration and anxiety to an already stressful situation. After all, you did your part by paying your premiums on time – now your insurance company should do its part and cover the cost of repairing or replacing your roof! Fortunately, you do not have to simply accept what your insurance company has offered to pay you for your claim. You do have rights and options when an insurance company underpays your roof damage claim. When you realize your claim has been underpaid, do the following:
Find the reason given for the underpayment. If your insurance company failed to pay the claim in full, they should provide a reason or justification for the underpayment. Read through the correspondence you received or call your insurance company to be sure you have a clear understanding of the reason given for the underpayment.
Review your insurance policy. If the reason provided involves an exclusion, higher applicable deductible (hurricane damage for example), or another issue directly related to your policy coverage, read through your policy to see if you agree with that analysis.
Get independent estimates. If the underpayment is the result of underestimating the cost to repair or replace your roof, get your own independent estimates in writing from at least two licensed contractors.
Dispute the underpayment. Dispute the underpayment as soon as possible. Do not call and argue with your insurance company over the phone. Instead, file an official dispute in writing through the mail or online if your insurance company offers that option. Provide a clear and concise reason for disputing the amount of the payment and attach supporting documentation (receipts, estimates, photos).
Contact an experienced roof damage claim attorney. Although you can involve an attorney at any point in the claims process, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced roof damage insurance claim attorney immediately if your original claim is underpaid. Your attorney can help you dispute the claim and be prepared to litigate the dispute if your insurance company still refuses to pay the claim in full.
Get Help from an Experienced Florida Roof Damage Claim Attorney
If your insurance company underpaid your roof damage claim, contact an experienced roof damage insurance claim lawyer at Malik Law P.A. for help. We have the experience and resources necessary to take on your insurance company and get your claim paid in full.
Call us at 407-500-1000 or submit our online form today. One of our experienced Florida roof damage lawyers will explain your rights to you and discuss your legal options at no cost.
Imran Malik, rated AV® Preeminent, by Martindale-Hubbell, is the founding member of Malik Law P.A. An AV® Rating signifies that a lawyer has reached the heights of professional excellence. He has practiced law for a number of years, and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity by fellow attorneys in his area of practice. Martindale-Hubbell is the oldest and most trusted lawyer information service in America.