We often have clients who have suffered damage to their personal or business property for a fire, flood, or storms like Hurricane Michael and Sally ask us whether they should start repairing the damage before resolving the insurance claim. Imagine this: you come home from vacation to find your septic tank backed up in your bathroom and caused significant water damage. Who should you call first?
A plumber to come out and repair the septic drainage system;
A contractor to come out and begin the sheetrock and tile repairs; or
Your homeowner's insurance company to report the claim.
A recent case says call your insurance company first. If you sustain damage to your home, whether you believe it is covered under your policy or not, you should report the claim immediately to your insurance company. If repairs are made before the insurance company inspects the property, the insurance company might cry foul.
Report the Claim Before Making Repairs
In a recent case out of the Florida appellate courts, the homeowners, sadly, had to learn this the hard way. After a sewage back-up in their master bathroom caused water damage, the homeowners brought in a plumber to make repairs before notifying their insurance company, Florida Peninsula Insurance Company. Florida Peninsula denied the claim, arguing that the homeowners' decision to repair the property before the insurance company could inspect it prevented the insurance company from being able to determine the cost to repair. Because it could not accurately calculate the damage due to the repairs, the insurance company was not required to pay anything on the claim. Do not let this happen to you.
You can view the opinion De la Rosa v. Florida Peninsula Insurance Company, No. 4D17-1294 (4th DCA, May 16, 2018) here.
At Taylor, Warren, Weidner & Hancock, we have handled many property damage insurance claims, and we know how frustrating and stressful it can be to deal with an insurance company while your home or business property is in disrepair. If you've suffered property damage and have a question about your claim, contact us.