Hurricane Irma may seem like a distant memory, but some homeowners are still working on repairs to their property due to issues with receiving proper insurance benefits. The good news is that homeowners have five years from the date of the loss to file a lawsuit against the insurance companies in the event that their claim was undervalued or wrongfully denied.
Property owners should also be aware that the deadline to file (with the insurance company) notice of the original claim and/or any reopened or supplemental claim is only three years. Therefore, the best practice is to file suit within three years for any hurricane claims, which would mean that the deadline for most Hurricane Irma claims is September 9, 2020.
A year after Hurricane Irma hit, a homeowner failed to receive a single penny from her insurance carrier after filing her hurricane claim. The carrier claimed her damages were not caused by Hurricane Irma but were a result of wear and tear. After a team of experts inspected her property, her insurance company was sued for wrongfully denying her claim and she ended up with over $40,000 in her pocket.
Insurance policy benefits can be complicated matters. For one, the intricate details of insurance policies can be hard for homeowners to understand. Secondly, many homeowners trust that the insurance company is paying what is owed to them under their policies. Unfortunately, sometimes the benefit payouts are denied or underpaid, which means homeowners end up unfairly paying out of pocket to repair damages to their property.
Homeowners insurance lawsuits filed after Hurricane Irma
After property owners file a claim, it may become necessary to obtain legal representation in ensuring that insurance carriers properly pay the claim in accordance with the terms of the policy. Most insurance companies look for ways to undervalue or deny claims. For example, companies may cite that wear and tear played a role in the property damage, they may claim that faulty repairs that led to the damage, or they may underestimate the scope of the damages. In these instances, property owners may need to take legal action in order to recover what is rightfully owed to them.
Homeowners insurance lawsuits are not uncommon in Florida, especially after a hurricane. For instance, it was reported earlier this year that Citizens Property Insurance Corp. was facing 14,901 pending lawsuits due to disputes including those stemming from Hurricane Irma property damage.
If you believe your Hurricane Irma insurance claim was underpaid or wrongfully denied, contact a property insurance attorney. If they move forward in pursuing a claim against your insurance company, they will take the appropriate steps to investigate the case including sending engineers and contractors to do a thorough inspection of your home. After this process is complete, they will review their findings and determine if there is a viable claim. The next step will be to re-open the original insurance claim or file a lawsuit against the insurance company. There should be no cost to you for this process. Florida law requires insurance companies to pay attorney fees and to pay these fees separately as to not take any money away from your compensation.
If you have further questions about property insurance claims, Panter, Panter & Sampedro, P.A. can be reached (305) 662-6178 or by filling out our online contact form here.