From our decades of experience helping homeowners with their fire claims, we have learned that sometimes your insurance company can cause you as much (if not more) grief and anguish than the fire itself. Processing your claim without unnecessary delay is required by law. Despite this law, sometimes your claim is intentionally delayed—or outright denied—by the insurance company simply to make themselves more profitable. Here are some common tactics we have seen in our decades of experience helping thousands of policyholders with their homeowners insurance fire claims:
- If you are asked to submit documents numerous times that you have already submitted, because your insurance company keeps telling you they never received them, they were not uploaded properly, or they need to be resent to a different address because a new adjuster has been assigned to your claim, be aware your insurance company may be unnecessarily delaying your claim. The insurance company knows people get frustrated with the all the bureaucracy and red tape of submitting and pursuing an insurance claim. Some people get so frustrated that they simply abandon the idea that they will ever receive the insurance benefits they are owed. Many insurance companies count on your exhaustion with the frustrating process.
- If you feel your claim is being ignored or unnecessarily delayed, you need to understand your legal rights and the new laws that govern insurance companies. Under the Senate Bill 2-A (SB-2A), effective January 1, 2023, your insurance company is required to respond to communications within seven (7) days. They have to send you a copy of their estimate within seven (7) days after you request it and/or it is prepared. Your insurance company is also required to pay or deny your claim—including a supplemental or reopened claim—within sixty (60) after the claim is reported unless there are factors beyond the insurance company's control that prevent payment. Your insurance company also has a statutory obligation to deal with you in good faith and not act in their own best interest. If your insurance company is not fulfilling these obligations, you need an experienced insurance attorney working to represent your best interest who can help you protect and preserve your claim.
- If you have been asked to provide receipts for contents to prove you owned items lost in the fire your insurance company may be unnecessarily delaying your claim. The insurance company knows most people don't keep receipts for items they purchased years earlier. Even if they did, the insurance company knows that they may have likely been lost in the fire along with many of your belongings. Receipts are generally not necessary to fairly and promptly pay your claim.
- If you have been asked to provide a sworn proof of loss, your insurance company may be attempting to put unnecessary pressure on you. An accurate sworn proof of loss is difficult to prepare without expert or professional help as most homeowners are not aware of the full extent of the covered damage their property has sustained or the current, complete cost to repair it in compliance with Florida Building Codes. If a sworn proof of loss is requested, your insurance company may be trying to force a difficult timeline on you to provide this key document within the number of days required by your policy, knowing the consequences they can try to capitalize on if you fail to fulfill their request. Read any correspondence from your insurance company carefully and seek professional assistance if you have been asked to submit a sworn proof of loss.
- If you have been asked to give a recorded statement or an examination under oath, your insurance company may be looking for a reason to deny your claim. The statements you make will be used against you if you say the wrong thing. An insurance claim can be paid without the need for your sworn testimony if that is what the insurance company wants to do. There is nothing standard about a recorded statement or an examination under oath. You need an experienced insurance attorney to help you before you say anything. The insurance company will be all too happy to ask you questions under oath outside the presence of a lawyer. In our experience, sitting for an examination under oath or recorded statement without an attorney can be a costly mistake.
You Deserve Someone Fighting For You. Some people delay or do not seek legal representation at all because they think they cannot afford a lawyer. We never charge any fee or costs unless a recovery is made on your behalf. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us for answers. We do not represent insurance companies. We never have and never will. We exclusively represent homeowners like you, and every case our firm takes on is handled personally by one of our six attorneys which you can learn more about here. We look forward to discussing your fire claim with you and explaining your legal rights.