As a homeowner who has suffered property loss in a hurricane, tropical storm, or other damaging event, the last thing you want to hear is that your insurance company is attempting to deny coverage. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common occurrence, and one way that insurers often attempt to avoid liability for property damage claims is by alleging homeowner fraud.
Insurance Company Fraud Allegations Against Homeowners
As a property owner in Florida, you are entitled to insurance coverage according to the terms of your homeowner’s policy. While homeowner fraud may be justification for denial of coverage, it is not unusual for certain insurance companies to allege fraud in circumstances where homeowners have done nothing wrong. Some of the most-common fraud allegations against homeowners include:
1. Misrepresenting the Cause of Damage
Only certain causes of damage (referred to as “perils”) are covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy. Common exclusions include damage from normal wear and tear, flooding, and pre-existing property conditions. A common tactic is for homeowner’s insurance companies to attempt to deny coverage by claiming that certain damage was already existing due to wear and tear, neglect or other factors at the time of a hurricane or other damaging storm.
2. Misrepresenting Damaged or Lost Property
Another common practice is for insurance companies to question homeowners’ claims regarding the value or existence of damaged or lost property. From challenging the costs of materials for kitchen and bathroom renovations to accusing homeowners of fraudulently adding items to the list of assets that were lost completely, insurers will often closely scrutinize homeowners’ claimed losses and deny coverage in the absence of clear documentation.
3. Public Adjuster Fraud
One of the best ways to secure coverage after a hurricane or other damaging storm is to engage the services of a public adjuster. When you hire a public adjuster, the adjuster works for you, not the insurance company, and his or her role is to help document the full extent of your covered losses.
In some cases, however, insurance companies will attempt to accuse homeowners and their public adjusters of fraud. Common allegations include inflating repair and replacement costs and providing unlicensed public adjuster services. As a result, homeowners should make sure their public adjusters are licensed and experienced, have solid references, and have a systematic method for calculating and documenting homeowners’ losses.
Homeowner Fraud Allegations and Bad-Faith Insurance Denials
While some allegations of homeowner fraud are legitimate, insurance companies often make allegations of homeowner fraud in bad faith. Bad-faith coverage denials are common, and homeowners must be prepared to respond to fraud allegations quickly and appropriately. If your insurance company has accused you of fraud, you should not assume that what you are being told is accurate, and we encourage you to contact us to learn about your legal rights.
Speak with a Broward County Property Damage Attorney in Confidence
At Saavedra | Goodwin, we provide experienced legal representation for homeowners facing disputes with their insurance companies. If you have been accused of fraud, or if you believe that your insurance company may otherwise be handling your claim in bad faith, you can call (954) 767-6333 or get in touch online to speak with one of our Broward County property damage attorneys.