Fort Myers, Florida Insurance Claims Lawyers
Smith & Vanture is a Fort Myers, Florida insurance claims law firm that can assist you if your insurance claim has been denied or underpaid. Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover wind damage, fire, hail, lightning, water damage, theft, and injury claims. Yet, the insurance claim process can get complicated. Insurance policies have exclusions, may depreciate certain items that need to be repaired or replaced after a storm, fire, or theft, and may have differing deductible amounts depending on the type of damage your home sustained. Insurance adjusters handle many different claims and are adept at saving their companies money. It is in the insurance company’s best interest that they only pay the absolute minimum they are required to pay. The reality is that in many cases, there may be quite a bit of wiggle room when it comes to the value of your settlement. A Fort Myers, Florida insurance claims lawyer at Smith & Vanture may be able to help you appeal a denied homeowner’s insurance claim or fight to help you get a better settlement amount if your claim was underpaid. We can review the details of your policy, review the rationale that your insurance adjuster is using when offering you a given settlement or denial, and fight to help you get the settlement you may deserve.
Some denials or underpayments are the result of the type of policy you have or may be the result of exclusions. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies won’t cover all types of damages and losses. For example, standard homeowner’s insurance policies exclude flood damage, damage due to normal wear and tear, or damage due to homeowner negligence. When homeowners make insurance claims following a storm, disaster, or unexpected loss, they can sometimes find themselves struggling to get their insurance company to pay their claim or fully cover their damages. Insurance adjusters may claim that you didn’t take steps to secure your home, or that wind-driven rain was flood damage, so they don’t have to cover your losses. Insurance companies save money when they pay you less. And while insurance companies have a legal responsibility to honor your policy, they may offer you the lowest possible settlement amount at first, requiring you to provide additional documentation or prove the other damages and losses. Too many homeowners just give up, losing out on money that could help them make repairs to their homes.
Underpaid insurance claims are more common than denied insurance claims, but underpaid insurance claims can be sometimes difficult to fight. Sometimes insurance companies might claim that parts of a claim are excluded but may misapply the exclusion. For example, if your homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover preexisting damage, you won’t be covered for wear and tear to your roof, but you would be covered if winds from a hurricane damaged your shingles. Things can get complicated if your insurance adjuster claims wind damage was wear and tear. In order to fight an underpaid insurance claim, you’ll need to have a good understanding of your insurance policy and understand the nature and value of your losses. Many homeowners have not read the fine print of their policies and it can sometimes be difficult to know what insurance adjusters need to prove a loss.
The Fort Myers, Florida insurance claims lawyers at Smith & Vanture understand the unique challenges homeowners face after a hurricane or other natural disaster. Our lawyers are here to help you if the settlement amount being offered by your insurance company doesn’t cover your losses. We can negotiate with adjusters, help you put together evidence to support the amount you are seeking, and even take your insurance company to court if your claim was wrongfully denied or underpaid. Contact the Fort Myers, Florida insurance claims lawyers at Smith & Vanture today. We are here to help you.
How an Insurance Claim Denial Lawyer in Fort Myers, Florida Can Help You with Common Homeowner’s Insurance Denials
If your insurance claim doesn’t cover your losses or if your claim was denied, you have the right to appeal the denial or underpayment. Your insurance company has an obligation to act in good faith when investigating your claim and estimating the value of your damages. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters, especially in the aftermath of a hurricane or major storm are often pressured to close claims quickly, which may mean that they might not always take the time they need to properly investigate a claim and estimate the value of your damages. There are many reasons why insurance claims might get denied or underpaid. Here are some common ones:
- Standard homeowner’s insurance policies won’t cover flood damage, preexisting damages, or damages that resulted from neglect or a homeowner’s failure to take proper care of his or her home.
- Coverage Type. If you have homeowner’s insurance coverage that protects you for a broad range of perils, you still may not receive the full amount to cover your losses if your coverage type is actual cash value insurance rather than replacement cost coverage. Replacement cost coverage will cover the full cost of your repairs minus your deductible. If your roof needs to be repaired, your insurance policy should cover the repairs, no matter how old your roof is. Yet, if you have actual cash value coverage, your insurance adjuster will need to consider depreciation. So, if your roof is older and would have needed repairs sooner, anyway, your insurance company might consider the age of the roof and only pay a portion of the repairs. If items or furniture in your home were damaged, destroyed, or stolen, actual cash value coverage won’t replace these items new, but will offer you money based on the current value of the items as they are used.
- Late Claim. If your claim wasn’t filed on time or was submitted past the deadline, your claim might be denied.
- Homeowner’s insurance won’t cover you for damage due to your own negligence. So, if a storm hit, and damaged your roof, and you failed to put up a tarp while you were waiting to settle your claim, your insurance company won’t cover additional water damages. If you failed to properly maintain your home and this made storm damage worse, or if your insurance company believes some of the damage to your home happened because you failed to maintain the roof or other structural parts of your home, you might end up with a denied claim or only part of the claim paid.
- Bad Faith. Sometimes insurance companies misrepresent the language of a policy, fail to properly investigate a claim, and deny a claim in bad faith, or underpay a claim in bad faith. While this is illegal, it can happen. Unfortunately homeowners may not always know when their insurance adjuster is acting in bad faith.
A Fort Myers, Florida insurance claim denial lawyer at Smith & Vanture may be able to help you with your claim. If your claim was denied or underpaid due to exclusions, the insurance claim denial lawyers in Fort Myers, Florida at Smith & Vanture can check to see that the exclusions were properly applied. For example, if your insurance policy doesn’t cover flood damage, but some of the water damage was due to flooding, a Fort Myers, Florida insurance claim denial lawyer at Smith & Vanture may be able to work with your insurance adjuster or hire a private insurance adjuster to properly assess the source of damages. If you are being accused of negligence, our insurance claim denial lawyers can work to assess the causes of damage and fight your case. For example, after hurricane Ian, many homeowners were unable to return to their homes to secure their properties because bridges were damaged, and conditions were unsafe due to flooding. If your insurance company is claiming negligence when you had no ability to properly secure your home, you may have the right to fight your case, either by negotiating with insurance companies or by taking your insurance company to court. There are other situations where insurance companies may fail to make a proper assessment when adjusting a claim. For example, if your insurance adjuster failed to properly assess depreciation, failed to properly estimate the value of your claim, or failed to thoroughly investigate all damages to your home, you may have the right to appeal an underpaid or denied claim. Insurance companies expect homeowners to be proactive in documenting losses, so part of your responsibility as a homeowner is to submit proof of loss forms in a timely manner. But even when homeowners document their losses, sometimes insurance adjusters might be rushed in investigating a claim, especially after a major hurricane or storm.
The insurance claim denial lawyers in Fort Myers, Florida at Smith & Vanture can help you understand your rights, estimate the fair value of your settlement, and fight to help you get the settlement you may deserve. Insurance adjusters and companies are at an advantage when they investigate your claim. They know the ins and outs of your policy, understand their rights, and can often use the law and language of your policy to justify giving you a smaller settlement. The insurance claim denial lawyers in Fort Myers, Florida at Smith & Vanture understand how homeowner’s insurance works and we understand the settlement process. We can fight to help you get the best possible settlement permitted under the law. Don’t be at a disadvantage when making a claim. Reach out to the Fort Myers, Florida insurance claim denial lawyers at Smith & Vanture today.
How a Homeowner’s Insurance Claim Denial Lawyer in Fort Myers, Florida Can Protect Your Rights
The homeowner’s insurance claim process can be complicated. Under Florida law, homeowners have certain important rights when making a homeowner’s insurance claim and they also have important responsibilities. Under the Florida Homeowners Claim Bill of Rights, you have the right to:
- Have your claim acknowledged within 14 days of submitting your claim.
- Request in writing after you submit your proof of loss form that your insurance company update you about the status of your claim after 30 days.
- Receive written confirmation within 30 days (if you made a written request) that your claim will either be paid in full, be partially paid, be denied, or notice that your claim is still under investigation.
- Receive payment or the undisputed payment within 90 days of submitting proof of loss forms.
- If you don’t receive payment within 90 days, you may have the right to demand interest payments on the late payments.
These timelines are important because in the past, insurance companies would sometimes delay a claim until the filing deadline passed, or delay paying claims in the hopes that homeowners would give up and just accept a first offer. These deadlines put pressure on insurance companies and insurance adjusters to act in good faith and pay insurance settlements promptly and fairly.
If your insurance company fails to meet these deadlines, or if you believe your claim has been wrongfully denied, or underpaid, the Fort Myers, Florida homeowner’s insurance claim denial lawyers at Smith & Vanture may be able to help you. The insurance claim process can be complicated. You might receive multiple checks from your insurance company—an advance, a cash value check to replace items damaged in your home, and another check to cover living expenses if you cannot live at home. If you have a replacement cost insurance policy, you may have to purchase items at full value and submit receipts to receive the full settlement amount. Some insurance companies might pay a contractor directly, but you need to be careful when signing any contracts with contractors before your insurance company agrees to pay. It can be stressful to navigate the insurance claims process. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. The homeowner’s insurance claim denial lawyers in Fort Myers, Florida at Smith & Vanture are here to help you, every step of the way.
Hurricane Damage Lawyers in Fort Myers, Florida
Hurricane Ian devastated Fort Myers, Florida, resulting in extensive damage to Florida properties. Estimates of total damages range from anywhere between $41 billion and $70 billion. If your home was damaged in a Florida hurricane or during hurricane Ian, you may be counting on your homeowner’s insurance to cover the cost of repairs. Unfortunately, sometimes homeowners receive a rude awakening when they learn that their homeowner’s insurance settlement doesn’t cover the cost of repairs. While there may be valid reasons why your settlement may not cover all your losses—some policies have high deductibles and some only cover the cash value of replacing items, and not the full value—your insurance company has an obligation to honor your insurance policy. Yet sometimes insurance adjusters may try to reduce their liability and may request additional evidence from homeowners to support a claim. If you are having trouble receiving the settlement you believe you deserve from your homeowner’s insurance company, the hurricane damage lawyers in Fort Myers, Florida at Smith & Vanture may be able to help you. Contact us today to learn more about your rights.
Contact a Fort Myers, Florida Hurricane Damage Insurance Claim Lawyer
Smith & Vanture is here to help you if you are having trouble with your insurance claim after a hurricane. The aftermath of a hurricane or major storm can be incredibly stressful. You may be waiting to receive your insurance payment to begin rebuilding. If you need help appealing a denied hurricane insurance claim or fighting an underpaid claim, reach out to the Fort Myers, Florida hurricane damage insurance claim lawyer at Smith & Vanture today.