Few property owners look forward to settling down to read their property insurance policies. Even though the huge paragraphs of legal-speak form the foundation used to reduce or deny claims after a disaster causes property damage, the language discourages understanding. So where do you start if you want to see what coverage you really have? Start with the Declarations (“DEC”) Page.
The Declarations Page Provides a Summary of Vital Policy Information
Recognizing that insurance policy language is almost impossible for the average person to understand, Florida law requires every insurance policy to include a DEC page in plain, easy-to-read language.
The Florida Homeowners’ Insurance toolkit provides a sample DEC page, which permits any policyholder to understand coverage basics, such as the following:
• Basic coverages and limits: This section tells you the maximum reimbursement you can expect from every coverage part, including for your home, other structures (if applicable), personal property and additional living expenses.
• Deductibles: This is essentially the amount you must contribute out-of-pocket for a loss before the insurance reimbursement kicks in. Varying deductibles may apply based on the type of peril, with hurricane deductibles generally based on a percentage of your total coverage, rather than a flat dollar amount.
• Forms, options and endorsements: If you purchase additional coverage (such as mold coverage) for valuable items or choose to insure personal property based on replacement cost rather than current value, the coverage is listed here. Similarly, any policy exclusions are listed in this area. These are items that are not covered; however you can generally buy additional coverage if you want to.
One important value of the DEC page is that it provides homeowners with a tool that helps them easily check to ensure their coverage continues to meet their needs. For example, a policy that covers $150,000 for your home may have sufficed when you initially purchased the policy. If major renovations or the market increased its value to $250,000 since that time, however, you need to increase coverage.
Even without making big changes to your home, your insurance company probably changes coverage on an annual basis, so you need to make sure the numbers continue to apply based on natural changes in property values.
In the Event of Loss, Policy Language Still Rules
By law, actual policy language governs insurance company decisions when you file a property damage claim. That said, the language is often open to interpretation in spite of its precise nature.
It is best not to assume that the insurance claims adjuster’s decision is set in stone. If you have any concerns that a settlement offer is unfair, it is time to call in a property insurance claims attorney who knows how to navigate policy language. Call us at (954) 767-6333 or use our convenient online contact form to receive the fair treatment you deserve.