The internet has plenty of articles that discuss when an insurance claim should be filed or not. Examples can be found herehere, and here.

The truth is, at least in Florida, delaying the filing of an insurance claim either because you think your rates will go up or because you think it will not exceed the deductible can hurt you if you ultimately decide to file a claim. The most common example that we see in our office is the following:  

Susy Insured, has damages as a result of windstorm. Susy finds some broken shingles on the ground and perhaps a small leak in her bedroom. Being a good homeowner, Susy hires the local neighborhood handyman to repair the broken shingles and patch and paint the damaged area in her bedroom for a total of $1,000.00. Susy’s deductible is $2,500.00. Three months go by and now Susy is seeing additional leaks in the garage and living room of the property. Susy now decides to contact public adjuster to investigate. The public adjuster inspects the property and determines that the damages are more widespread, that about 30% of the roof has damage, and that there are actually additional leaks in other rooms that had not been discovered. Susy now decides to file a claim and is immediately hit with a reservation of rights saying that she didn’t comply with her policy obligations.  

So what did Susy Insured, do wrong? 

First, most insurance policies have conditions that require that the insured report the loss promptly. Courts have held that promptly means with all reasonable dispatch under the circumstances. Susy knew she had damage as soon as she found the broken shingles and the interior leak but she did not make a claim because she read the internet and because her repairs of $1,000 did not exceed the deductible. Unfortunately for Susy, the three month delay in reporting the claim can possibly be used against her by her insurance company to support a denial of her claim.  

Secondly, most insurance policies have conditions that require that the insured show the damaged property. By doing repairs before the insurance company had a chance to inspect the property, Susy, Insured, may have prejudiced her insurance company’s ability to investigate the loss. Hopefully Susy kept records of what she paid the handyman and that she took photographs of the damages before doing repairs. Again, this is yet another thing that articles on the internet typically do not cover. 

Lastly, most insurance policies have conditions that require that the insured take steps to prevent further damage to the property. By using a local handyman that may or may not be a licensed contractor/roofer, Susy may have missed additional areas of damage to her roof from the windstorm. Those areas of damage then end up becoming points for water to enter the property and cause additional damage. Again, Susy may have prejudiced her insurance company by not doing the proper repairs and allowing the damages to get worse.  

Most internet articles regarding when to file an insurance claim simply focus on whether the claim will be under your deductible or whether filing a claim will raise your insurance rates. The reality is much more complex than that. Insurance policies are complex legal contracts with various conditions and obligations on the part of the insured as well as the insurance company. If you think you’ve got a claim for damages to your home or business in Florida, contact a local public adjuster or contactthe attorneys at Alvarez Law Group for a free consultation about your damages 

The following two tabs change content below.

Alvarez Law Group

At Alvarez Law Group, we are proud of our reputation for being a trusted advocate during insurance claims litigation and real estate transactions.

Latest posts by Alvarez Law Group (see all)