If your home or business property was completely destroyed in a peril covered by your property insurance policy, do you know how much you will receive for your claim? Florida’s valued policy law, which has been around in some form for more than a century, attempts to reduce disputes on the value of total loss claims.
Through the years, however, legislators made additions and changes that seem to complicate matters. Our experienced Broward County insurance claim lawyers often get called in to protect the rights of policyholders who receive insurance claim settlement offers valued at less than they expect them to be.
The Purpose of Valued Policy Law
In essence, valued policy law has a simple intent. It ensures that policyholders whose property is destroyed by covered perils on their policies receive the policy’s face value if the insurance company chooses to write it off as a total loss rather than repair the structure.
Essentially, the value of the property is conclusively established at the time the policy is taken out. Through the years, however, the law has been amended with numerous changes and exceptions, including (but certainly not limited to) the following:
• It now includes provisions for partial losses, but only in the case of fire and lightening.
• Multiple structures may not be fully covered if they are insured under a single blanket policy.
• When more than one policy exists by different insurance companies that do not know about all policies, valued policy law may not apply.
• Personal property is usually not covered, except under specific conditions.
• Numerous provisions apply to the valuation of mobile homes when setting the value of a policy.
Granted, earlier versions of the law may have generated any number of claim disputes. In its current form, the law continues to generate disputes — albeit different ones.
Differing Interpretation of the Law Can Lead to Litigation
Little can be done when property owners carry policies with face values that fall well below what their property is worth. However, litigation may be required for disputes involving anything from the insurer’s decision to declare a total loss, to insurer allegations of reduced value due to pre-existing conditions.
Your signature on a settlement offer makes it final. So, if you believe your insurance company’s settlement offer is less than you expect it to be, get in touch with an experienced property insurance claims attorney who understands the complex and changing laws. Call us at (954) 767-6333 or use our convenient online contact form to find out if you have grounds for dispute.