A trend we’ve seen recently is that insurance companies are moving disputes over homeowner’s insurance claims into a possibly more expensive field. Instead of having your day in court, you may end up with your hands tied by an appraisal.

 

This type of appraisal is not an evaluation of your home’s worth for mortgage purposes, but a form of arbitration in which you hire an appraiser out of your own pocket to prove your claim. Your insurance carrier also hires an appraiser to review the damages and if the both sides can’t agree, they split the difference and that is how much money you receiver, regardless of the actual amount needed to repair your home correctly.

 

This amount is binding, which means you can’t change its value in court. The only legal recourse available to you is you can show that the process was flawed. Insurers often write appraisal requirements into your policy because appraisals are regularly less expensive and time-consuming for insurance companies than a lawsuit, saving them money. However, it’s costlier for homeowners to make repairs because you must hire outside experts to support your claim.

 

Often, you’ll have to accept the your insurance company’s first offer because authorizing a review of repair costs would be more expensive than the additional money you would receive if your estimate prevails. The only time you would consider going through the appraisal process is if both sides’ numbers are so close that it makes sense financially sense to expedite the process and recover your claim.

 

As summer creeps closer and hurricane season descends upon us, now is the time to review your insurance policy and take a closer look at the section on disputes. Understanding what happens if you find the word appraisal in there can make all the difference should disaster strike.

 

Our experienced attorneys at Acle Law will walk you through the terms of your insurance policy and provide representation in any dispute in Florida where your insurer is denying, delaying or under-paying your claim. Call our Miami property insurance claim attorneys at the Acle Law Firm today at 305-447-4667 or visit Acle Law for a free consultation.

Florida’s insurance commissioner and insurance companies across the state are warning people to use caution when signing “Assignment of Benefits” (AOB) agreements with contractors and other companies that repair storm and property damage. While you should always and carefully review any contract you sign, property owners are missing out on the full story when it comes to AOBs and the narrative that surrounds the issue.

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When you purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy, you’re buying some peace of mind in case disaster strikes your property. But one of the biggest problems most policyholders have is they don’t understand the major components of their policy. In fact, according to a national consumer survey conducted by the International Communications Research on behalf of Trusted Choice and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, more than half of the respondents didn’t understand the major components of their homeowner’s policies. An additional follow up survey revealed that nearly 75 percent of respondents acknowledged they didn’t have a separate flood insurance policy and 40 percent were unsure if their insurance covered the replacement of their belongings following a disaster.

 

So we decided to help break down your homeowner’s insurance policy in order for you to better understand what your policy entails.

 

DECLARATIONS

This is where all of your unique information is contained including the following:

  • Name
  • Policy number
  • Name of the underwriter
  • Description of the insured property
  • Contact information
  • Start and termination dates
  • Premium amount
  • Coverage limits
  • Deductibles

 

INSURING AGREEMENT

This section basically says that you agree to pay your premiums in exchange for the insurance carrier’s promise to compensate you for losses covered by your policy.

 

DEFINITIONS

The definitions listed here apply throughout the policy and while it may seem excessive, this section appears in order to minimize ambiguity.

 

SECTION I – PROPERTY COVERAGE

This is where your insurance company agrees to compensate you for certain losses. While certain part of this section will vary from policy to policy, they all cover damage or loss to your dwelling and its adjacent structures (i.e. garage). Lost or destroyed personal property can also be covered.

 

SECTION I – PROPERTY COVERAGE EXCLUSIONS

Your policy in this section will highlight all the specific circumstances in which you are specifically excluded from coverage (i.e. power failure, flooding, earthquakes, defective design, intentional acts, etc.)

 

SECTION II – LIABILITY COVERAGE

Under this section, your insurance company agrees to cover any damages for which you are liable to pay a third party due to any accidental bodily injury or property damage you caused.

 

SECTION II – LIABILITY COVERAGE EXCLUSIONS

Like the above Section 1 exclusions, this section outlines the circumstances in which your insurance carrier will not pay for third party bodily injury or property damage claims that typically involve acts such as rental activities, injuries to someone insured by your policy, and business pursuits, among others.

 

CONDITIONS

In here you’ll find some general information about the contract you’ve entered into with your insurance company. Some policies even include a list of what you should do following an accident in order to make a claim.

 

ENDORSEMENTS

Think of endorsements like amendments to your policy. They can either modify or delete existing provisions, or even add completely new ones.

 

TALK TO A QUALIFIED FLORIDA INSURANCE CLAIMS ATTORNEY

Insurance policies can be confusing and overwhelming. In order to avoid unnecessary confusion, you should contact an experienced Florida insurance claims attorney. We will walk you through the terms of your insurance policy and provide representation in any dispute in Florida where your insurer is denying, delaying or under-paying your claim. Call our Miami property insurance claim attorneys at the Acle Law Firm today at 305-447-4667 or visit Acle Law for a free consultation

 

 

Florida's statewide building code is one of the strongest across the country, especially here in South Florida, but Hurricane Michael exposed its weakness in the state's Panhandle region when the storm roared ashore.

According to a recent article in the Real Deal, any new structures built in Miami-Dade County have to be able to withstand wind speeds of up to 175 mph. But in the parts of the Panhandle where the storm did the most damage, the wind speed requirements drop to around 120 mph.  

When Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach as a Category 4 storm, it had sustained wind speed of 155 miles per hour. It was the first recorded Category 4 hurricane to hit the Panhandle. 

Contact Acle Law Today for Assistance

If you have experienced an insurance loss from a hurricane, tropical storm or other major weather event, you may encounter resistance from your insurance company in processing your claim. Our aggressive, experienced and dedicated attorneys at Acle Law will remain on your side and advocate on your behalf to ensure you receive what you're entitled to from your policy. At Acle Law, we take the time to truly understand every aspect of your policy in order to maximize your return. We also work with the best in construction experts and restoration professionals to determine all the facts of your case. 

Contact one of our experienced South Florida property insurance lawyers at Acle Law Firm today for a free consultation. We will walk you through the terms of your insurance policy and provide representation in any dispute in Florida where your insurer is denying, delaying or under-paying your claim. Call our property insurance claim attorneys at the Acle Law Firm at 305-447-4667 or visit Acle Law for a free consultation

 

If a burst pipe, storm, fire, flood or some other disaster were to damage or destroy your home, would you have the right insurance coverage to rebuild? Below we attempt to answer some of these questions and more as we address some of the most frequently asked questions we receive regularly at Acle Law. As a homeowner, especially in Miami suburbs such as Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, South Miami and Coral Gables, it’s important that you know what is covered in a standard homeowner’s policy and what is not. You should know where gaps in your coverage exist and how to fill them.


To simplify the answers below, we’re going to assume you have a policy known as a Homeowner’s-3, or HO-3, which is the most common policy across the entire U.S.

 

Question #1: Am I covered for direct loss due to fire, lighting, theft, windstorm, hail, explosions, smoke and vandalism?

Yes and no. A standard HO-3 provides broad coverage for these and other disasters, or “perils,” as they are typically noted in a policy. It’s important to check the dollar limits of the insurance you carry in your particular policy to make sure you are comfortable with the amount of coverage you have for specific items. However, since we call South Florida home, there are restrictions on your coverage for wind and you need to secure an additional wind coverage policy to protect yourself form hurricanes and other tropical weather.

 

Question #2: A pipe bursts and water flows all over my house, walls and floors. Am I covered?

Yes. In fact, we’re seeing a rise in these types of claims over the last several years as homes that were built in the 1960s and 1970s across Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay used copper piping, which is now reaching the end of its typical lifespan. Burst pipes and the ensuing water damage can be extensive. It’s a good idea to check your plumbing system at least once a year so you can address problems before they arise.

 

Question #3: Am I covered for flood damage?

No. Most of South Florida is considered a flood-prone area, so it’s wise for you to consider purchasing an extra flood insurance policy. The federal government, under a program run by the Federal Insurance Administration, provides flood insurance. You should work with your insurance representative directly in order to secure the flood coverage you need.

 

Question #4: Are my jewelry and other valuables covered?

Yes. The standard policy provides only from $1,000 to $2,000 for theft of jewelry. If your jewelry is worth a lot more, you should consider purchasing higher limits. You may also want to consider adding what is called a “floater,” which will provide higher limits not afforded in your normal policy while covering specific pieces of jewelry and other expensive possessions such as paintings, silver, china, or electronic equipment, for example.

 

Question #5: A tree falls on my house during a storm and damages my roof. Am I covered?

Yes. You are covered for the damage to your rood. You are also covered for the removal of the tree, generally up to a $500 limit. You should cut down dead or dying trees near your home and prune overhanging branches as safety precaution because while your insurance does cover damages, a falling tree or branch could injure you or your family.

 

If you have experienced loss from a storm, burst pipe, theft, vandalism, fire – or you have questions about your existing policy - contact one of our experienced South Florida property insurance lawyers at Acle Law Firm for a free consultation. We will walk you through the terms of your insurance policy and provide representation in any dispute in Florida where your insurer is denying, delaying or under-paying your claim. Call our Miami property insurance claim attorneys at the Acle Law Firm today at 305-447-4667 or visit Acle Law for a free consultation

A year ago today, South Florida was bracing for Hurricane Irma. As the category 4 storm made landfall in the Lower Keys, it ripped through the islands damaging thousands of homes and businesses.

 

The storm effectively closed the Keys for weeks and shattered lives in its wake. The rest of South Florida was spared the brunt of the Irma’s wind, rain and storm surge, but it revealed major shortcomings in how communities across the region prepare for hurricane season.

 

It basically brought Miami to its knees despite its relatively low wind speeds across the Magic City. Nearly one million Miami-Dade residents lost power, many of them for more than a week. Trees blocked roads everywhere and many businesses remain closed to this day because of the storm. Furthermore, residents continue to fight insurance carriers reluctant to pay full value for damage caused to their homes.

 

So what did Hurricane Irma reveal?

 

Tree Canopies can be a Problem

Trees falling on power lines, especially in Coral Gables, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and South Miami, caused many power outages. This prompted lawsuits and a lot of talk about burying power lines – which is an expensive proposition.

 

We can’t all head north towards Georgia

South Floridians spent hours on gridlocked highways heading north trying to escape as the storm approached. Many spent thousands of dollars driving from city-to-city and state-to-state. Since then, there has been more talk about how to better shelter in place and for those that need – using designated shelters as a last resort.

 

Make sure you have enough insurance coverage

While homeowner’s insurance sounds simple enough, don’t be fooled. There are a lot of working parts to a homeowner’s insurance policy. These five facts you need to know about homeowner’s insurance will help you determine where to start.

 

Certain issues can prevent you from recovering losses

While the assumption is that your insurance policy will cover everything in the event of property damage - that is simply not the case. There are certain actions you should and should not do before and after a storm in order to maximize your recovery under your policy.

 

If you have experienced loss from a hurricane, tropical storm or other major weather event – or you have questions about your existing policy - contact one of our experienced South Florida property insurance lawyers at Acle Law Firm for a free consultation. We will walk you through the terms of your insurance policy and provide representation in any dispute in Florida where your insurer is denying, delaying or under-paying your claim. Call our Miami property insurance claim attorneys at the Acle Law Firm today at 305-447-4667 or visit Acle Law for a free consultation

 

 

 

With forecasters expecting the 2018 hurricane season to still be a very active one, South Florida homeowners should be preparing their homes and putting their affairs in order to potentially file a claim with their home, flood and windstorm insurance companies. We’re hopeful that no storms will make landfall, but if one does, those South Floridians who planned ahead will be in the best position to maximize their coverage and begin rebuilding quickly.

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It’s official and there is no turning back. The 2018 hurricane season is underway and it’s time to prepare. As we saw with Hurricane Irma last year and with other deadly storms over the decades, hurricanes can be devastating, especially if your insurance policy doesn’t cover the full extent of your property damage and if you don’t take certain steps following a storm. As Floridians, it’s our responsibility to understand the damage caused by hurricanes to our homes and businesses and how we can work to maximize our insurance recovery should a hurricane strike.

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