Insurance Quiz: If the insurance company estimates the value of your loss to be approximately $800, is this the amount you must accept as the ACTUAL CASH VALUE? We hope you said “No.” At Taylor, Warren & Weidner, it is our goal to educate policyholders on the true value of their claim so the insurance company that has collected their premiums, month after month, year after year, keeps their promise to pay if a loss occurs. Many policyholders mistakenly believe that the insurance company gets to dictate the value of the loss. A recent court opinion from a Florida appeals court reminded the lower court that the value is NOT exclusively what the insurance company estimates it to be. Meaning, the insurance company's word is not the be-all, end-all on what you are entitled to recover under the policy.
In Vasquez v. Southern Fidelity Property and Casualty, Inc., the insurance company estimated the actual cash value of the homeowners' loss to be approximately $800. A public adjuster, however (who, unlike the insurance company's adjuster, does not have the incentive to under-estimate your loss because public adjusters typically are compensated by receiving a percentage of your insurance recovery), concluded the value of the homeowners' loss exceeded $30,000. The homeowners sued the insurance company after it tendered a check for $773 and stated no further payments would be made unless and until the homeowners made repairs to the property in excess of that amount. Reversing the order of the trial court, which ruled in favor of the insurance company, the Third DCA re-stated the long-standing law in Florida that if a genuine issue of material fact exists as to what the actual cash value of the loss is (here $800 versus $30,000) that the insurance company is NOT entitled to entry of a judgment in its favor. Rather, the dispute must be decided by a jury.
If you are dealing with an insurance company regarding damage to your property of any kind, know that you do not have to accept the insurance company's initial estimate of your damages as the final word. We can help get you an INDEPENDENT assessment of your damages. Do not feel pressured to accept the insurance company's initial offer. You have rights under your policy and we are happy to explain them to you. We never charge an initial fee or cost to sit down with you, answer questions about your policy and the insurance company's estimate. Contact us at www.twwlawfirm.com.