It can take as little as a month and up to a few years to settle your property claim. It truly depends on the type of loss you have suffered. There are other variables as well that affect the amount of time it will take to settle your claim. They include your policy coverage, the insurance company claims procedures, and how long it takes to gather estimates and prepare documentation of your loss.
Tip: Most policies contain deadlines for certain claims actions. You may have a certain amount of time to submit proof of your loss, make repairs or collect the full value of your loss under the policy. It is best to consult your policy to make sure you submit required documentation in a timely manner.
Most policies contain timelines that govern the claims process. The deadlines must be adhered to by both the insured and the insurance company. The timeframes vary from policy to policy. Typically, policies contain a deadline for submitting a proof of loss to the insurance company. This is a statement outlining the details of your loss and the amount of money you are seeking under the claim. Some policies request a proof of loss 60 days after you file the claim. Other insurance companies will allow you 60 days after they request a proof of loss.
Another deadline to be aware of revolves around bringing a lawsuit. If you and your insurance company are unable to resolve a claim, you have only a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit. Some policies allow you one year after the loss to file a suit, others allow two.
Tip: Because claim timelines can vary among policies, it’s important to read your policy.
With most policies, you are responsible for clearing the debris form your yard after a loss. However, there may be coverage that will reimburse you for the cost of the work. Some policies have an additional coverage for debris removal above the coverage amount for your dwelling.
Tip: Be sure to take photos of the debris before you have it removed and keep receipts for any out of pocket expenses.
If you are unable to live in your house after a loss, your insurance company may arrange for temporary housing. Typically, coverage for temporary housing is available for a short time after a catastrophic loss. Some policies provide coverage for Additional Living Expenses (ALE) if your home isn’t safe to live in. This type of coverage is applied on a case by case basis and determined by the policy contract. Some policies offer ALE coverage for one year after the loss, others may include coverage for two.
Tip: If your home is not habitable after a loss, discuss ALE coverage with your insurance company as soon as possible.
Under Florida law, insurance companies must respond to your claim with 14 days and pay what is owed on your claim within 90 days. Insurers will typically issue an actual cash value settlement based on a repair estimate to begin the contractor’s work. For example, if you have roof damage, your insurance company will likely issue the actual cash value of the roof. You can then assign this payment to your contractor to begin repairs. After the roof is completed, the insurance company will pay the balance on the claim.
Tip: If your insurance company has not issued payment for your claim, and has not issued a denial, consult with a licensed Florida public adjuster for help.
Most policies allow for depreciation and most adjusters are trained to do depreciate damaged property during a claim settlement. One way an insurance company deals with depreciation is by “holding back” the full replacement cost value of repairs or property until the property is restored or repurchased. In such a case, the company will extend the actual cash value of the item to you and once you submit proof of repair or replacement, they pay the difference.
Tip: Depreciation can be subjective. It is best to negotiate with your claims adjuster on the deprecation amounts of your property. Be sure to have documentation to substantiate your property’s value.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (FOIR) is tasked with monitoring regulations and compliance surrounding insurance in Florida. The division operates a helpline as well as a consumer protection division that handles complaints against insurance companies. A useful publication from the FOIR is the Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights. The bill of rights is a document that outlines the rights and responsibilities of a homeowner during a property claim.
The contractor I want to use provided estimates that are much higher than what my insurance company offered to pay. What should I do?
You are permitted to use any contractor you wish to conduct your repairs. Select a contractor you trust that is also licensed and insured. If your contractor’s estimate accurately reflects the work to be done, your insurance company must make a settlement offer.
The differences between contractor estimates and adjuster estimates must be negotiated and resolved quickly so you can get your repairs underway. If your insurance company is not negotiating based on your contractor estimate, you may want to seek the help of a professional public insurance adjuster.
A public adjuster is a professional claims adjuster who works for policyholders. A public adjuster can help file your claim, write the estimates and negotiate your settlement with the insurance company. In Florida, public adjusters are permitted to charge a fee of 20 percent of the settlement of your claim. However, in the event the state declares an emergency, the fee is reduced to 10 percent if the claim is filed within one year from the date of loss.
Public adjusters work on behalf of policyholders to ensure they get an accurate and fair claim settlement. You can contract a public adjuster at any time throughout the claims process for guidance.
If my insurance company brings in a professional cleaning or restoration company, who pays for that?
Typically, fees for cleaning and restoration are covered under your policy. The coverage depends on what caused the damage. Often for water and fire losses, a restoration company is needed to clean the salvageable contents of the home and to remediate the damage.
You can select your own restoration company, or your insurance company can recommend one to you.
Your insurance company may wish to pay to clean items such as furniture and clothing instead of replacing them. Cleaning personal property that was damaged in a fire can be very difficult. Smoke odors are hard to remove. If you have items that cannot be appropriately cleaned, seek an opinion from a restoration company.
Matching is a matter of debate among many insurance companies. In Florida, an insurer is required to make reasonable repairs to ensure matching. For example, say you have continuous wood flooring throughout your kitchen and dining room. After a water loss it’s determined your kitchen flooring must be replaced. But you don’t want to have one type of flooring in the kitchen and another in the dining room. Your insurance company has a duty to match “quality, color and size.”
Although there are some statutes governing claim settlement practices in Florida, the policy contract is always the best determinant of coverage and claim process. If you need help with a property claim, a licensed Florida public adjuster may be an asset.
When dealing with property insurance claims, there are a lot of moving pieces. You are likely dealing with a policy contract, a claims adjuster, and contractors. Here is a roundup of Frequently Asked Questions about property damage claims in 45 states throughout the U.S. Although claims rules and laws vary among states and even among policy contracts, these are general guidelines for Florida policyholders dealing with a property claim.
Did you know that if over 25% of your roof is damaged, you’re entitled to a completely new one?
If you feel like you haven’t gotten enough from your home insurance company, you may have been lowballed. There’s always an opportunity to get more, and your insurance company is responsible.
We’re public claims adjusters serving homeowners and business owners with property damage in 45 states throughout the United States.
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