Policyholders purchase insurance so that it will be there when a disaster strikes. Property insurance is critical to a smooth recovery from catastrophes such as hurricane, sinkhole, fire, tornado, lightning, and even vandalism. Commercial and residential property owners should review their coverage annually to ensure the proper type and amount of property insurance is secured.
When misfortune happens, bills can add up quickly. Knowing this, insurance companies often offer to pay less than the policy requires, and sometimes they refuse to pay at all. Negotiating with insurance companies can be a long, drawn out process. Because your financial needs are urgent, you may be pressured to settle for an amount that will not make you whole nor allow for a complete and proper repair.
If your insurance company has low balled your claim, or is refusing to accept your claim, talk to the experienced legal team at Christopher Ligori & Associates. We take insurance claims very seriously and will not be intimidated by any insurance company that refuses to honor its obligations to the policyholder.
Learn More about Residential and Commercial Insurance
Insurance companies may try many different methods to keep you from the amount you are owed. Learn more about your situation with the information below. We’re ready to help you when you’re ready to schedule an appointment.
How do Insurance Lawyers Deal with Insurance Companies?
- Residential Insurance
- Commercial Insurance
- Denial of Coverage
- Bad Faith Claims
- Presenting Your Claims the Right Way
Residential Property Insurance
Homeowner’s insurance policies typically fall into two categories. All-risk policies protect against all risks of loss that are not specifically excluded under the policy. In these claims, the insurer has the burden to prove the loss resulted from an excluded cause. Named peril policies limit coverage to specific causes of loss enumerated in the policy. Here, the insured has the burden to prove the loss resulted from a covered cause. Thus, all-risk policies usually offer broader coverage.
The insurance policy’s declarations page identifies the property insured, the amount of coverage and a list of forms and endorsements that make up the insurance contract. Check that you have all of the form numbers listed on the declarations page to ensure you have a complete and accurate copy of the policy.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover the dwelling, other structures separated from the dwelling by clear space, personal property or contents and loss of use (additional living expenses to live elsewhere or lost rents). These coverages and their limits are usually listed on the declarations page.
Additional coverages are typically included in the body of the policy or in endorsements, and may include coverage for debris removal, reasonable repairs to protect the property from further damage, code upgrades, collapse and sinkhole damage.
Policyholders are frequently surprised at the time commitment involved in keeping up with insurance claims. Do not let handling your insurance claims exacerbate an already stressful situation. The lawyers at Christopher Ligori & Associates have handled hundreds of homeowner’s insurance claims and understand the insurance company’s obligations to you under its policy.
Commercial Property Insurance
It can be difficult to bounce back after a catastrophe shuts down your business. An already complex insurance claims process is compounded in the event of a commercial loss, which may involve not only an assessment of damage to structures and contents, but also a detailed accounting analysis and prompt mitigation of damages by the insured.
Disasters affect business owners and homeowners equally, and we understand that time is a critical factor. At Christopher Ligori & Associates, our insurance claims lawyers work to secure all of the benefits your policy provides.
Talk to our attorneys if your business has been affected by a disaster. We can help you rebuild today, for your future tomorrow.
Denial of Coverage
Determining whether a loss is covered under a property insurance policy often involves an analysis of the cause of damage which should be performed by an engineer, architect or other qualified forensic professional. Whether cracks in a building result from covered sinkhole activity or other excluded subsurface causes of settlement; whether a roof was simply poorly maintained or sustained covered wind damage; whether a home was destroyed by flood or hurricane force winds–all of these examples involve technical determinations that an adjuster alone is unqualified to perform.
Even where an insurance company retains qualified experts to investigate the cause of loss, such consultants frequently receive the majority of their business from insurers and, therefore, may not always be inclined to be fair to the policyholder, resulting in wrongful denials of coverage. If you think your claim has been wrongfully denied, the attorneys at Christopher Ligori & Associates can help you interpret your insurance policy and put together a team of consultants to fairly assess the cause and extent of your property loss.
Additionally, it is crucial to be as accurate as possible on your insurance application. Pursuant to Florida Statute § 627.409, even an innocent mistake can void coverage if the information was material to the insurance company’s acceptance of the risk and would have resulted in a higher premium or non-issuance of the policy. If you have been denied coverage for an alleged misrepresentation in your insurance application, contact Christopher Ligori & Associates for a free case analysis today.
Condominium Association’s Insurance Claims
Condominium association losses can be extensive, and are particularly complicated due to the large volume of documents insurance companies typically request during the claims investigation, which can include years of maintenance records and board meeting minutes. Examinations Under Oath may be requested of current and former board members.
Third party contractors may be asked to produce records evidencing any work they may have performed on the property. Experienced representation is recommended in such claims to ensure the scope of the insurer’s claim investigation is appropriate.
Condominium claims involve many other complex elements, such as determining the responsibilities of the unit owner versus the condominium association. This is generally governed by Florida Statute §718.111(11), the condominium documents, and the policy itself. Typically, the unit owner is responsible for the floor, wall and ceiling coverings inward. At Christopher Ligori & Associates, we can help you decipher the applicable laws, policy language and condominium by-laws, and fight to maximize recovery of what you are lawfully owed.
Bad Faith Insurance Claims
If an insurance company engages in claims handling practices that violate Florida law, an unfair claims practice action or “bad faith” suit may be appropriate if certain conditions are met. Policyholders in Florida are required to file a Civil Remedy Notice of Insurer Violation with the Florida Department of Financial Services and the offending insurance company.
A Civil Remedy Notice gives the insurer sixty days to pay all of the benefits owed under an insurance policy. If, at the conclusion of the insurance claim dispute, the policyholder recovers additional insurance benefits, a “bad faith” action may be brought to recover any out of pocket expenses the policyholder incurred as a result of the insurance company’s delay and, in some situations, punitive damages. It is critical that a Civil Remedy Notice be properly drafted.
If your insurer improperly denies coverage, delays investigation or payment, or otherwise treats you unfairly, the attorneys at Christopher Ligori & Associates can help you perfect your right to pursue an unfair claims practice action, receive full indemnification and be made whole again after a loss.
Presenting Your Claim In & Out of Court
Pursuant to the terms of the insurance policy, insurance companies are entitled to conduct a reasonable investigation of the loss. These investigations sometimes seem onerous and invasive to policyholders. However, an insured’s failure to comply with the policy’s post-loss obligations may result in a valid denial of coverage. These duties usually include, but are not limited to:
- Give prompt notice of loss to insurance company
- Make reasonable repairs to protect property from further damage
- Show the property (allow the insurer access)
- Submit to Examinations under Oath
- Send proof of loss upon request with supporting documentation
- Provide contents inventory and documentation
An insurer may make such requests so long as they are reasonable. If you are uncertain if an insurance company is conducting a reasonable investigation, the lawyers at Christopher Ligori & Associates can advise you. We assist in the presentation of all manner of property insurance claims including the following:
- Water Damage
- Business Interruption
- Bad Faith Insurance Practices
- Insurance Agent Negligence
- Defense of Examinations under Oath
Insurance contracts impose duties upon both the insurance company and the policyholder. One typical policyholder obligation contained in property insurance contracts is the requirement to submit to an Examination under Oath or “EUO.” As part of the insurance company’s claim investigation it is entitled to interview the insured under oath before a court reporter to gather the facts necessary for making coverage determinations and decisions as to the amount and scope of the covered loss. Refusal by a policyholder to submit to an EUO may result in no coverage for the claim.
While it is important for policyholders to cooperate with their insurers in providing information needed in the claim investigation process, the scope of the insurance company’s inquiries should limited to what is reasonably necessary for making claims decisions. You are entitled to have an insurance claims attorney accompany you to a EUO to ensure the insurer does not abuse the process. Christopher Ligori & Associates can advise you on your obligations under the insurance contract and keep the scope of the insurance company’s inquiry focused on what is permissible under the policy.