Each year, about one in 20 insured homes has an insurance claim for damage, with roughly one in 50 filing a claim based on water damage or freezing, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Florida residents are especially susceptible to property damage caused by the destructive storms that blow through the state during hurricane season each year. When an insurance company fails to pay a claim in full and on time, it can make recovering from a storm even more difficult. Knowing when to hire a Florida insurance claim attorney can be the key to a quicker recovery.
Ideally, a property damage claim filed with your insurance company should be paid in full in a timely manner without the need to involve an attorney. For relatively minor, uncomplicated claims, this may happen. Unfortunately, however, the likelihood of a dispute tends to increase under certain circumstances, such as:
When you are faced with a property damage claim that has the potential to turn into a dispute, it is always better to consult with an insurance claim attorney before contacting your insurance company. Doing so ensures that when you do contact your insurance company you do not inadvertently say anything that will adversely affect your claim.
Although you may have paid your insurance premiums for years with the expectation that a valid claim will be paid without dispute, it is imperative that you remember your insurance company is in the business of making a profit. That means they have a huge incentive to find a reason to deny paying your claim in full.
The Insurance Information Institute, an industry-funded trade group, also recommends consulting an attorney if you are having a difficult time getting your claim paid. An initial consultation with an insurance claim attorney is typically free, which means you have little to lose and everything to gain by speaking to an attorney before filing a potentially difficult or expensive claim.
A primary advantage of consulting with an insurance claim attorney before filing a claim is that it can dramatically reduce the likelihood of the claim being denied outright. Getting an insurance company to reconsider a denial is usually a challenge, especially without the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Once a claim has been denied, the process of appealing that denial is complicated. You cannot simply ask for the claim to be reconsidered. Moreover, insurance companies understand the legal steps required to appeal a denial of the claim and count on the fact that most unrepresented claimants will not have the knowledge or resources to pursue the claim any further.
An insurance claim attorney, on the other hand, does understand the legal process necessary to dispute the denial of a claim. If your claim has already been denied, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your best interests are protected.
Hiring a lawyer will increase the likelihood of your insurance claim being approved and paid in a timely manner, starting with your initial consultation to determine if your claim is even worth pursuing.
Filing a claim without a Florida insurance claim attorney on your side leaves you vulnerable to several common tactics used by insurance companies to reduce the amount of money they pay out in claims each year. For example, clearly valid claims are often handled by an offer to pay the claim immediately – but for far less than the claim is really worth. Claims that are more complex, such as those where fault could be disputed, are frequently denied outright with the expectation that an unrepresented claimant will not pursue the matter.
Having an experienced Florida insurance claim lawyer onboard from the beginning of the claims process helps to ensure that your claim is taken seriously and puts the insurance company on notice that you will pursue a full and fair settlement of your claim.
Talking to an insurance claim attorney before filing your claim is always worth it because that consultation is usually free. Then you need to ask yourself whether hiring a lawyer is worth it based on the advice provided during your consultation. For a simple, low-dollar claim, it may not be worth it to hire a lawyer. If, however, your claim has the potential to turn into a dispute, hiring a lawyer early on is likely the most cost-effective option. While your attorney may take the case on a contingency basis, meaning they receive a percentage of the settlement, it is worth it if your claim is paid in full and without delay.
If you need to file a Florida property damage insurance claim, call us at 407-500-1000 or submit our online form today. One of our experienced insurance claim attorneys will explain your rights to you and discuss your legal options at no cost.