When a home or business is damaged by a hurricane, flood, or other natural disaster, the property owner expects the insurance company to pay the claim in good faith. Unfortunately, the fewer claims an insurance company pays, the better its bottom line. The related incentives often result in insurers either not paying or underpaying valid claims. If your insurance company has wrongfully denied or underpaid your claim in South Florida or elsewhere, the homeowner's claims attorneys at Cecere Santana can help you pursue the coverage to which you are entitled.Property Owners May Have Several Options When Insurers Refuse to Pay
The first thing that may come to mind when a property owner’s insurance company refuses to pay a claim is filing a bad-faith lawsuit. However, there are often other courses of action the owner might consider that could result in a simpler and quicker resolution of the claim.
Some insurance companies have been known to automatically deny all claims until the insured takes some sort of legal action. This does not always mean filing a lawsuit. In many cases, a demand letter from an experienced attorney can help things move along. If successful, this strategy has the benefit of quickly and inexpensively solving the problem.
If filing a lawsuit is necessary, a good option for many property owners may be a simple breach of contract claim. The lawsuit would allege that the insurance company’s failure to pay (or underpayment) is a breach of the homeowner insurance policy, which is essentially just a contract between the parties. This kind of suit will often seek specific performance of the contract — a legal term that means a court order that forces the insurance company to abide by the terms of the policy — or monetary damages that compensate the insured for the breach. These may have the same result: payment in the full amount of the claim.
Florida also provides a statutory cause of action for bad-faith insurance claims. Codified in Florida Statutes § 624.155, the law allows a first-party insured to file a lawsuit against an insurance company in the event the insurer fails to make an attempt to settle claims in good faith when it could have done so had it acted fairly and honestly. Some signs that an insurance company has not acted in good faith are:
- Failing to properly investigate a claim;
- Failing to negotiate seriously;
- Concealing or misrepresenting facts discovered in its investigation; or
- General negligence on the part of the insurer.
If your insurance company has done any of these things or has otherwise acted in bad faith, you may want to consider filing a bad-faith claim.Consult a South Florida Attorney on a Breach of Contract or Bad-Faith Claim
If your insurer has denied your claim or underpaid the value of a claim in the South Florida area or beyond, you should consider talking to the dedicated insurance lawyers at Cecere Santana. We have represented clients in coverage disputes in Coral Springs, Sunrise, West Palm Beach, and throughout Florida. While filing suit against your insurer is not always necessary, we have the ability to take your case to court if that proves to be what it takes to make them pay. To schedule a free consultation, call (800) 753-5529 or visit our contact page.