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Avoid Surprises: Learn the Terms of Your Property Insurance Policy

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2015 | Firm News |

There is no shortage of legislation pertaining to insurance practices in Florida, except when it comes to policy coverage requirements. In fact, the first sentence of the Florida Department of Financial Services Homeowners’ Insurance Toolkit states that homeowners do not have to carry homeowners’ insurance at all.

Most people who invest significant sums to buy property understand that insurance coverage is essential.  And mortgage lenders will almost always require it. However, our Fort Lauderdale insurance claim law firm warns that you can experience major surprises at claim time if you do not fully understand the terms of your policy.

Insurance Policies are Not Easy to Read

A typical property insurance policy is written to protect the insurance company’s interest — not to clarify the details for policyholders. Whether you own personal or business property, you need to understand that even a single word in a sea of legal language can make a major difference to your protection against loss. It is essential that you recognize how the language can affect a claim, such as in the following situations:

  • The value of lost property: If your policy replaces your losses based on actual cash value versus replacement cost, every item is reimbursed based on the item’s market value, which is typically significantly reduced by depreciation and other factors. Do not expect to replace your possessions with ones of like quality without paying out of pocket.
  • Policy exclusions: Even if most policies cover damage caused by wind, hurricanes and hail, these and other perils may be excluded in your policy language. Keep in mind that most policies exclude flood damage, so you will need to purchase a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurer. Unless you buy separate coverage for excluded perils, your claim may be denied.
  • Sinkhole and ground collapse: Your insurance company is not required to cover sinkhole damage, but it is required to offer coverage for an additional premium. Insurers are required to provide catastrophic ground cover collapse coverage, but only under specific circumstances.
  • Mold and fungi: Your policy can contain optional coverage for mold and fungi damage, but only for certain types of perils; and it may limit the amount you can collect for any single incident.

Policy Exclusions and Limitations are Not Always Set in Stone

If every excluded peril occurred on its own, you might find it relatively simple to decide whether or not it makes sense to file a claim. More likely, however, covered and uncovered perils often comingle. In this case, you may have more rights to coverage than you realize.

A call to an attorney with experience in property damage claims can provide pleasant surprises in terms of the coverage you really have. For accurate information and dedicated support, call us at (954) 928-9568 or use our convenient online contact form.

Founding Partners Damaso W. Saavedra and Allyson D. Goodwin