Florida Roofing Insurance Claims
Insurance claims are often a contentious time, but there are ways to make the process easier. If you need to file an insurance claim for your roofing, here's what you can do to prepare. If you're filing an insurance claim for your Florida home or business, you must know how the process is going to work. Knowing what you can expect from your insurance company before they get there, or even while they're on the scene, will make sure that everything goes according to plan and no one gets surprised along the way.
In most cases, roofers will need to file a homeowner claim if their roof has been damaged by a storm. If the roof is beyond the scope of your homeowner’s policy, then it will need to be filed as a commercial claim. Florida has specific laws regarding insurance claims that vary from state to state, so this article will focus on general guidelines. Florida law requires property insurance companies to follow these guidelines:
1. Emergency Services
If you need to call a roofing contractor because of damages caused by a natural disaster or accident, have them on-site as soon as possible. Your insurer will expect the damage to be assessed and for a contractor to be called immediately and is required by law to reimburse you within 45-60 days. In addition to keeping good records for your insurance claim, you should also take pictures and videos of the damage and send them to your insurer right away.
If you need to make emergency repairs in order not to further damage your home or business, be sure that you get a contractor on-site as soon as possible. The contract must contain a provision authorizing emergency services which is written in plain language without legal jargon, and it should only apply if there was no opportunity to obtain such services from another source. If this condition is met, then the insurer can authorize necessary roofing repairs up to 10% above the policy deductible limit (Florida law requires this amount be paid within 15 days).
2. Documentation of Loss
Insurers will require a list of any damaged items and detailed documentation of the damages they've suffered. This includes estimates for repairs, pictures, or receipts for appliances that have been lost or damaged in the process. All documentation will need to include dates and times where possible. Furthermore, you must keep all invoices and documentation for at least five years after the repairs.
3. Minimal or No Pre-Existing Damage
If your roof has previously been damaged, even if it was repaired, then your insurer may not be required to pay for the new storm damage. This varies depending on the state and whether there was any chance of repair before the next storm struck. If there is damage due to previous storms that were unreported, insurers will only be responsible for current and/or future losses caused by hurricanes or other major natural disasters.
While taking photos of existing damage prior to filing an insurance claim is important, it can also help with determining if recent storms have caused additional damage as well. If you find damage that has been repaired, you'll need copies of the contractor's work order and copies of the payment receipts for your insurance claim.
4. Damage Appraisals
Florida law requires property insurers to provide a valuation of damages within 60 days after an appraisal has been completed by an independent company. If there are any disputes regarding the appraised value, then you can file mediation or arbitration which will be overseen by the state's public adjuster board. You must also receive written notice before filing with this board. When negotiating an insurance claim settlement, it is helpful to have roofers on-site as soon as possible to ensure that expensive repairs aren't being overlooked beneath layers of debris. They may even be able to prevent further damage from being caused by a leaky roof.
5. Disaster Fraud
Florida is one of the states that have been hit hardest by hurricanes in recent years. Hurricane Irma alone led to over three million insurance claims, many of which could end up being fraudulent. While it may be difficult for you to spot disaster fraud within your own insurance claim, there are some signs that indicate possibilities for false documentation or inflated claims:
• Damage seems inconsistent with previous damage from a similar storm
• Payments from multiple insurers were requested before work was even finished after a single event
• Bills show incorrect dates and times where possible
In cases like these, you will need an experienced property insurance lawyer who can carefully review all documentation provided for your claim and help enforce your rights to a fair insurance claim settlement.
6. The Claims Process
Your insurer will file a claim and an adjuster should arrive to inspect your damages soon after your initial call. They will start by assessing the damage, and if they need you to make any repairs or move items before they can do their inspection, they should let you know when you can expect them back.
Moreover, it's a good idea to ask questions as they come up, but waiting until the end of the process is not recommended. Once your insurer has received all necessary documentation and completed their inspection, you will either receive an offer if your damage was less than the policy deductible or be asked for final approval before repairs are made.
In some cases, insurance claims can go on for months or years without ever being resolved by your insurer because of fraudulent claims or incomplete paperwork. If this happens to you, don't hesitate to contact a lawyer who specializes in home insurance claims. Although hiring a lawyer may cost more money upfront, they can help ensure that you don't have to wait any longer than necessary.
7. Miscellaneous Costs
If there is no deductible in your policy, then the insurance company will handle all costs related to your roofing repairs above and beyond what is covered in your policy up to $10,000 without requiring a signed agreement. If there's a deductible in place, the amount paid out to cover miscellaneous expenses may be reduced accordingly.
However, these miscellaneous expenses are not restricted to things like moving services, board-ups, or emergency repairs. They also often include costs associated with rental properties or hotels if you need to be moved somewhere else for an extended period of time during the roofing repair process.
If you do have a deductible in place, then it is your responsibility to cover all of these extra expenses unless they're the result of negligence by the insurance company. Your insurer may make you pay a higher premium next year if they've had to pay out too much money on your behalf because of a poorly documented claim.
8. Communicating with Insurers
Keeping your insurer up to date with any changes in the amount and type of damage done by a storm is critical. Any changes that you need to file before they arrive should be communicated as soon as possible and no later than 2 business days after you've had an inspection.
This communication may include:
• Damage assessments
• Estimates for repairs
• Replacement items; such as appliances or flooring
• Construction plans
9. Your Rights
During the claims process, it's important to know what rights you do and don't have under Florida law.
These rights include:
• The right not to be discriminated against because of your disability or religion
• The right to receive prompt payment when applicable
• The right not to pay a deductible more than once per claim
• The right not to receive less than the actual cash value of damaged goods
Roof insurance claims can get extremely complicated very fast, so if you need help from an insurance attorney to file a claim it's vital that you contact one as soon as possible. Any roofing insurance claim in Florida is subject to the same laws and regulations and should be processed in a timely manner (generally within 45-90 days). It's important not to wait until your claim has been denied before seeking help from an attorney, as this could result in further complications.
A roofing contractor can help prevent further damage from being caused, but you need legal assistance when filing an insurance claim in Florida in order to ensure that the damages documented are covered under your policy and your insurer is not required to pay more than what was originally offered. In conclusion, you should consider hiring a lawyer if your insurer fails to recognize damages caused by the storm.