Florida’s new insurance laws (SB2-A and HB 837) have been described as making citizens restricted in their challenges against insurance companies, but there are still chances to make property damage claims in high-value cases.
These law changes are intended to even the playing field between the insurance companies and homeowners, but in our opinion, they will hurt homeowners and embolden insurance companies to not do the right thing.
All is not lost though. In this blog, we’ll try to explain the new Florida insurance laws in easy-to-understand terms, so you can still take action if your insurance company isn’t acting fairly:
SB 2-A and HB 837 Law Changes
Source: Florida Senate Bill Summary
New Claim Filing Deadline
- Policyholders now have just 1 year to file a new or reopened claim (it was previously 1 year).
- Policyholders have just 18 months to make a supplemental claim (it was previously 3 years).
Attorney Fee Changes
- One-way attorney fees are no longer possible in property damage claims in Florida.
- However, you can still hire a lawyer on a contingency agreement.
Contingency Fees Explained
With these new law changes, you’ll likely need to work with an attorney on a contingency fee basis.
Contingency fees are a type of payment where the attorney only receives legal fees if the outcome of the case is successful.
Contingency fee cases usually see a portion of the proceeds obtained through the property damage claim used as the payment to the attorney.
The specific contingency fee agreement will be defined in a contract between the law firm and the client making the claim.
Our reputable Florida property damage lawyers are already working in this manner.
When to Use a Contingency Fee Lawyer?
Contingency fees are a strong sign that your case is not just winnable, but could also be a high value claim. Law firms don’t want to waste time on property damage claims that aren’t winnable or are of low value.
For example, in most scenarios, we only take on large loss cases (with over $100k in disputed damages).
AOBs: Payments to Contractors
- It is no longer possible to assign any homeowner insurance benefits to a third-party such as a contractor.
Bad Faith Claims
- Bad faith claims can now only be filed if the policyholder has established via ‘adverse adjudication by a court’ that their insurer breached the insurance contract, and a final judgment or decree has been given against the insurer.
- This is bad news for policyholders as it’s an extra hurdle to prove that they’ve been unfairly handled.
- However, insurers must now include various parts of the claim investigation and their dates.
Regulation of Insurance Companies
- The bill also authorizes the Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) to examine any insurer after a hurricane under certain conditions. This is in an attempt to stop insurers from abusing the appraisal process.
- Insurers must now encourage the purchase of flood insurance.
- They must include flood insurance notices on the declarations page.
- This is an effort to solve the problem that many Florida homeowners are unaware they need a separate flood damage policy.
- Insurers have just 60 days to pay or deny the claim (it was previously 60 days).
- Insurers must begin an investigation in 7 days (instead of 14 days).
- Insurers must conduct a physical inspection in 30 days (instead of 45 days).
- Within 7 days of assisting an adjuster, insurers must notify the policyholder that they can request a copy of a detailed estimate of the loss.
- The estimate must be sent to the policyholder within 7 days of the request, or 7 days since the estimate was completed.
- Insurers’ claim records must include various parts of the claim investigation and their dates.
Can I Make a Property Damage Claim?
If your home has suffered significant property damage after a disaster such as a hurricane, storm, flood or fire then it may be worth hiring a property damage lawyer.
Firstly, working with an attorney from day one can give you a real chance at getting the maximum possible settlement. You won’t be manipulated, pressured or exploited by the insurer’s tricks as the lawyer will be communicating on your behalf.
Secondly, if you’ve received a denial, or undervalued claim or are suffering from obvious signs of bad faith behavior then you should contact a property damage lawyer immediately.
As stated above, insurance companies have regulations and time limits to meet. If they fail to meet these, they should be held accountable and resolve the issue fast.
More Information on Florida Property Damage Claims
If you believe you have a property damage claim of high value but are unsure if the new bill changes affect your chances of winning a settlement, then you can contact us today to gain a clearer understanding.
We also advise you to refer to our blogs and explainer guides for further information on property damage claims in Florida.
- How Long Do I Have to Make a Hurricane Insurance Claim in Florida?
- Can You Negotiate a Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim?
- What’s the Difference Between Water Damage & Flood Damage?
Call Our Florida Property Damage Lawyers Today
Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage attorney team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.
Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help navigate property damage claims for many types of damage, from hurricanes and floods to fires and sinkholes.
Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.