When you file a homeowner’s insurance claim in Florida, your insurance company is required by law to provide you with a copy of the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights (the “Bill of Rights”). This is a list of rights established by statute; but, unlike other provisions of Florida insurance law, it does not give homeowners additional grounds to sue their insurers. Instead, the Bill of Rights is intended to, “summarize, in simple, nontechnical terms, existing Florida law regarding the rights of a personal lines residential property insurance policyholder who files a claim of loss.”
As a homeowner, when you file an insurance claim, it is important to carefully review the Bill of Rights. If you know your rights, you will have a better chance of understanding when they have been violated, and you will know when it is time to speak with an attorney about your claim.
The Florida Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights highlights six rights granted to all insured homeowners under Florida law, and it provides six recommendations for homeowners who need to file insurance claims. While the Bill of Rights references certain specific timelines, it is important to note that there are, “exceptions to the stated timelines when conditions are beyond your insurance company’s control.”
Rights Granted to Florida Homeowners
Under the Bill of Rights, Florida homeowners are entitled to:
- Receive an acknowledgement from their insurance company within 14 days of filing a claim.
- Receive confirmation that their claims are “covered in full, partially covered, or denied,” or under investigation upon written request within 30 days of filing a completed proof of loss statement.
- Receive full settlement payment, payment of an undisputed portion of their claim or a complete denial within 90 days, subject to any dual interests noted in their policies.
- Mediate their disputes for free (under most circumstances) with the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services.
- Receive a neutral evaluation of disputed claims for covered damage caused by sinkholes.
- Contact the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services for assistance with their homeowners’ insurance claims.
Recommendations for Homeowners’ Insurance Claims
Under the Bill of Rights, homeowners are advised to:
- Contact their insurance companies before contracting for repairs.
- Make and document any emergency repairs needed to prevent additional damage.
- Carefully read any contracts for payment of out-of-pocket expenses or percentage-based fees for property repairs or replacements.
- Confirm that their contractors are licensed in Florida (by calling the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation) and ask them for references.
- Request proof of insurance from all contractors before they begin work.
- Take precautions if the damage requires temporary relocation, including, “securing your property, . . . turning off your gas, water, and electricity, . . . contacting your insurance company and provid[ing] a phone number where you can be reached.”
Speak with an Attorney about Your Homeowner’s Insurance Claim
Saavedra | Goodwin is a team of experienced Fort Lauderdale property damage attorneys who represent homeowners in claims and disputes with their insurers. If you need help with your homeowner’s claim and would like to speak with an attorney, call (954) 928-9568 or get in touch online to schedule an initial consultation today.