When your home is damaged in a storm or other casualty event, you only have a limited amount of time to file a claim with your insurance company. If you wait too long, your insurance company may be justified in denying your claim entirely. However, this is not the only timeframe homeowners need to be worried about – especially since most homeowner’s file their insurance claims right away. There is also a statute of limitations that applies to lawsuits against homeowner’s insurance companies; and, if you are not aware of this limitations period, your insurance company may be able to use it against you.
Florida Has a Special Statute of Limitations for Property Insurance Contract Claims
Your homeowner’s insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. If your insurance company improperly denies your claim, this constitutes a “breach” of your contract, and you are entitled to seek legal and equitable remedies in court. Under Section 95.11(2)(b) of the Florida Statutes, most breach-of-contract claims are subject to a limitations period of five years from the date of breach. However, under Section 95.11(2)(e), the five-year limitations period for claims related to insurance contracts runs “from the date of loss.”
In other words, as soon as your home sustains damage, the timeframe in which you can file a lawsuit against your insurance company begins to get shorter. This is true regardless of how quickly you file a claim under your policy (remember, filing a claim under your policy and filing a breach-of-contract claim in court are two different things), and it is true regardless of how long it takes your insurance company to process your claim. While five years sounds like – and is – a long time, when you are going through a years-long struggle to obtain payment from your insurance company, it is not hard to lose sight of the specific dates and deadlines involved.
Other Statutes of Limitations May Apply as Well
While this five-year statute of limitations applies to most types of homeowner’s insurance claims, there are various other statutes of limitations that can come into play when your home is damaged as well. For example, if you have a claim against a neighboring property owner, then your claim may be subject to a four-year statute of limitations (even if the claim involves going through his or her insurance company). Florida also has a special three-year statute of limitations for providing notice of claims related to hurricane and windstorm damage.
In any case, the best way to protect your legal rights as a homeowner is to file your claim as soon as possible, and to seek legal help if you are struggling to secure coverage from your insurer.
Schedule an Initial Consultation in Broward County, FL
Saavedra | Goodwin is a Fort Lauderdale insurance claim law firm that represents homeowners in insurance claims and litigation. If you would like to speak with an attorney about your homeowner’s insurance claim, we encourage you to call 954-767-6333 or contact us online for a confidential initial consultation.