Pensacola is a tourist destination due to its pristine beaches and breathtaking scenery, both on and off the beach. However, homeowners and businesses who live here know that it’s not always paradise. Like the rest of Florida, Pensacola sees its share of destructive storms and man-made disasters. That makes it all the more important to have insurance coverage to repair property damage for your Pensacola home. But what happens when the insurance companies don’t honor their policies?
VCM Law Group holds insurance companies accountable when they try to cheat their policyholders out of their coverage. If you’ve had a Pensacola property damage claim of any kind unfairly denied, reach out to us.
Understanding Your Pensacola Property Damage Coverage
Our firm works with residential and business policyholders so they can understand the exact nature of their property insurance coverage. Generally, these policies protect against structural damage to a dwelling or building, as well as replacement of specific items of personal property that are damaged, stolen, or destroyed
Beyond these basics, every policy and every insurer are different. Depending on the exact policy you hold, you may have coverage of property damage resulting from natural and man-made destruction, such as:
- Water damage (e.g. busted pipes)
- Fallen trees
After a storm or man-made incident, the policyholder may only require a relatively minor payout from the insurance company. But in other cases, the insured will experience a total loss. No matter what sort of property damage you’ve experienced, you should expect the insurance company to do its job and cover what they promised. Yet, as far too many insureds know, that’s no guarantee the insurer won’t deny a legitimate claim.
Why Do Insurers Deny Pensacola Property Damage Claims?
Some property damage claims are fraudulent, invalid, or simply don’t cover the loss. That means not all claim denials are in bad faith. At the same time, many companies rely upon questionable reasons to justify their refusal to pay. Either way, as the policyholder, it’s important to understand why insurers deny property damage claims, so you can assess whether the denial was in good faith
- Lapse in coverage. If you fail to pay your insurance premiums, your coverage will lapse. Although it’s easy to get caught up on your payments, even a short lapse will give your insurer an excuse to deny coverage. There are also cases in which the insurer incorrectly stated there was a lapse, and the policyholder had to prove a payment was made.
- Policy exclusions. Your property damage policy will carry some significant exclusions that you should know. But these are often written with confusing language that’s designed to protect the insurance company. Your insurer may exploit your lack of understanding and invoke an exclusion that might not even apply
- Filing a claim too late. Some policyholders delay filing their claims, and often for reasons out of their control (e.g., being displaced after losing their homes). However, you only have a limited amount of time to file your claim before your insurer will deny it. There are sometimes disputes over whether the insured met the deadline, which can give rise to legal action.
- Not proving the claimed loss. The homeowner or business is required to substantiate their claim of loss. If you don’t sufficiently document your claim, you might still receive a payout, but it could be far less than what’s needed to replace or repair your property.
Steps That Pensacola Policyholders Should Take
If you’ve suffered property damage, time is not on your side. But quick action can improve the likelihood of receiving a fair payout on your policy.
First, read your policy – ideally before you even need to use it. Very few homeowners and businesses take the time to do this. And while policies are filled with complicated language, knowing your policy is critical. If the damage has already happened, find your policy, and read it.
Next, make an inventory of your property. This is another step that should be done before damage has occurred. Take pictures, keep lists, and hold on to purchase receipts and other proofs of payment. Update your records periodically. Include items on the inside and outside of the property, as well as the dwelling or building itself. This way, when it comes time to claim your loss, you’ll have your records organized and ready to present to your insurer.
Provide notice of loss to your insurer as quickly as possible after the damage. You may be displaced from your home or business for a while, but providing notice is a necessary step to receive a payout. Be sure to follow all instructions and deadlines provided in the policy, and keep a record of the notice you gave.
Finally, mitigate the damage. That means you need to take reasonable steps to keep it from getting worse. If there’s a hole in the ceiling, put a tarp over it. If items have been stolen, lock up anything that wasn’t taken and secure the premises. What constitutes “reasonable steps” varies from one policy to another, so err on the side of caution and do what you can to mitigate.
How Can A Pensacola Property Damage Attorney Help Me?
If your claim has been denied or you’re concerned it might be denied, reach out to a dedicated Pensacola property damage attorney. A lawyer may be able to help with the following:
- Reviewing your policy to explain coverage and exclusions
- Working with the insurer to handle the claim
- Negotiating with the insurer to compromise and settle the claim
- Litigating the claim if it’s denied or underpaid in bad faith
Contact Our Pensacola Property Damage Attorney
Property damage can spell major expense, business interruption, and stress. If your claim has been denied in bad faith, these problems only get worse. Count on VCM Law Group to fight for you. Give us a call today.