Any number of disasters can completely destroy residential or business structures in an instant. This type of devastating loss can leave homeowners on the street and businesses with no source of income for an extended time period. The last thing that they need is to face surprises when they file insurance claims for total loss.
The members of our Fort Lauderdale insurance claim law firm are proud that Florida legislators saw fit to create fair statutes that help protect property owners’ ability to file total loss claims for any covered peril. However, the law is not necessarily straightforward. Obtaining legal advice may be necessary to receive full and fair treatment for a claim.
The Basic Provisions of Florida Valued Policy Law
The overall purpose of valued policy law is to help ensure that property owners who sustain total property loss from a covered peril can pursue the full value for their loss based on the maximum coverage permitted by their property insurance policies. Some states provide this coverage only in the event of fire or lightning damage; others have no valued policy law on their books. In Florida, the law attempts to strike a fairness balance between policyholders and insurers, with provisions such as the following:
- It applies to all covered perils, rather than limiting coverage to specific events such as fire or lightning.
- It does not necessarily apply when more than one insurer provides coverage for the same structure without their prior knowledge. Similarly, property covered under a builder’s risk policy is not also covered under valued policy law.
- In the event of coinsurance clauses within policies, claim amounts can be reduced or shared by multiple insurers.
- Personal property is generally not considered when determining the value of a total loss of real property.
- Varying rules can apply when additional structures exist beyond the main structure.
On the surface, these provisions may seem relatively clear, but they are still open to interpretation — especially by insurance companies looking for arguments that might reduce their payouts under the policy.
Straightforward Laws Can Still Lead to Insurance Disputes
While the Florida valued policy law provides important protections for property owners who sustain total losses, the details behind any particular claim can still give insurance companies reasons to reduce or deny valid property insurance claims. It is important to understand that the laws may be forthright, but they also give weight to complex policy language that most property owners may not have even noticed.
It is almost impossible to overstate the challenges that insurance policy language can bring to any claim. Every policy language word choice can be open to interpretation that insurers can use to their advantage when reducing or denying claims. However, attorneys with extensive experience dealing with these policies also have the skills needed to understand and interpret policy language.
This ability is often necessary to help negotiate fair property insurance settlements, and it is essential for the rare cases that have to go to court. Before signing an unfair settlement, call us at (954) 767-6333 or use our convenient online contact form to find out if other legal options are available to help protect against excessive losses.