News related to "Insurance Claims"

brought to you by St Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas

18 08, 2022

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. Has 8 Lawyers Recognized by Best Lawyers®

By |2022-08-18T17:24:52-04:00August 18th, 2022|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , |

Congratulations to Caitlin C. Szematowicz, Andrew R. Pardun, Aubrey O. Dicus, Jr., Bruce Marger, Howard P. Ross, Jonathon Douglas, Robert Kapusta, Jr., and Sean K. McQuaid for being recognized among The Best Lawyers in America®.

Each attorney has been chosen for professional excellence in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® for work in specialized areas. Earning this title is one of the highest honors an attorney can earn.

The Best Lawyers in America®, “The Best at What We Do”

Best Lawyers is a company founded on the principle that “the best lawyers know who the best lawyers are.” They have broadcasted respected peer-review publications in the legal field for over four decades.

To be recognized by Best Lawyers is one of the most highly esteemed and widely regarded titles by clients and professionals in the legal community. The publications of Best Lawyers are known for their reliable and unbiased legal recommendations.

They compile a list of the most outstanding lawyers through a rigorous peer-review survey process, which includes tens of thousands of confidential evaluations from lawyers—only the top lawyers who receive enough votes and approval of Best Lawyers to earn this acclaimed title.

Furthermore, Best Lawyers in America® is a company proudly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. They actively focus on creating and running a company that advocates for cultural programs and diversity.

Howard P. Ross

Howard P. Ross is recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for his practice in Corporate Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Litigation, Commercial Litigation, and Commercial Transactions / UCC Law. He has also been recognized as “Lawyer of the Year” for his work in Corporate Law.

Howard is a respected member of the Florida Bar, with over 50 years of membership. In addition, he’s a member of the American Bar Association.

Howard is a legal expert dedicated to professional excellence in Business Litigation and Civil Litigation. He’s devoted his career to a broad range of business litigation and business transaction law, including:

  • Business Structures
  • Business Disputes
  • Contracts and Other Agreements
  • Real Estate Matters
  • Commercial Title Insurance
  • Residential Title Insurance

Thanks to Howard’s extensive experience, he can quickly and effectively analyze complex litigation and transactional/relationship matters. Another unique strength is his ability to determine the course of action that is in the client’s best interests. He is known for his strategic work in the transactional/relationship area because he is sensitive to preventive law measures. With his understanding of planning and avoiding future disputes, he can create resolutions and make future disputes less difficult and stressful.

Howard is Board Certified in Business Litigation Law and in Civil Trial Law. In addition, Howard is a former arbitrator and former member of the American Arbitration Association’s National Commercial Roster of Neutrals. Howard is a member of The Large, Complex Commercial Case Panel and the M&A and Joint Venture Panel.

In addition to achieving the Best Lawyers in America Award, Howard is recognized as a Florida Super Lawyer, has a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent rating, and is a Recipient of the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. He’s also achieved the following awards: Martindale-Hubbell Top Rated Lawyer in Real Estate Law, Lawyers of Distinction, America’s Most Honored Professionals, and has an AVVO 10 rating.

Sean K. McQuaid

Sean K. McQuaid is recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for his practice of Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Litigation.

Sean McQuaid is currently the President of Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. He practices personal injury, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, and criminal law.

Sean was also the President of the St. Petersburg Bar Association for 2020-2021.

Since joining the firm in 2000, he has been the fastest rising lawyer in the firm’s history. Sean joined the firm as an associate in 2000, became a shareholder in 2006, and became a named partner in 2013. Now, he is the President of the firm.

His personal injury practice is one of the top in the Tampa Bay area. He consistently receives 5-star reviews from satisfied clients who speak highly of his work.

Sean is a member of the Florida Bar, the Bar of the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the St.Petersburg Bar Association, the Clearwater Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the Pinellas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and various other legal associations.

Sean began his legal studies at Stetson University College of Law in 1997, graduating with his Juris Doctor and Masters in Business Administration degrees. During law school, he was a member of the Moot Court Board and competed across the country.

Sean also attended Princeton University from 1993-1997, where he was a 4-year varsity letterman and captain of the Princeton University Baseball Team.

Sean’s diverse experiences as a leader and an athlete contribute to his straightforward and competitive approach to practicing law. He is committed to excellence and determined to win.

Aubrey O. Dicus, Jr.

Aubrey O. Dicus, Jr. is recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for his practice in Commercial Litigation, White-Collar Criminal Defense, Defendants Personal Injury Litigation, and Plaintiffs Personal Injury Litigation. He is the former President of Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Aubrey graduated from Emory University with a degree in Economics and attended Stetson Law School from 1971-1974. Afterward, he partnered with Anthony S. Battaglia and Howard P. Ross.

His almost 50 years of litigation experience has involved everything from personal injury and criminal defense to civil and commercial litigation. Aubrey has represented clients and won multi-million dollar claims. In addition, he’s represented government agencies, including the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department.

Best Lawyers in America is just one of many accolades Aubrey has earned. He’s also been a Florida Super Lawyer for several years and maintains a Martindale-Hubbell AV preeminent highest rating.

In addition to his myriad of awards and honors, he is highly respected for his involvement and commitment to the local legal community. He is a previous President of the St. Petersburg Bar Association and former President of the Pinellas County Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association. He also served as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Aubrey also served as the Master of the Bench with the American Inns of Court, Pinellas County Chapter, and Barney Masterson Inn of Court. Furthermore, he received “The Barney” for his professionalism, civility, ethics, and legal excellence.

Aubrey is dedicated not only to serving in the legal field but to his local community as well. In addition to all of his professional and community legal services, Aubrey also has:

  • served on the Stetson Law School Advisory Council
  • served as President of the Stetson Alumni Association
  • been Member of the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce
  • Was appointed as the Governor’s Representative on the Community Development Corporation, Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc.
  • served on the Pinellas Emergency Mental Health Services Advisory Board and Finance Committee

Jonathon Douglas

Jonathon Douglas is recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for his practice in Insurance Law, Insurance Litigation, and Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Litigation.

Jonathon prioritizes fighting for the rights of his clients. He’s distinguished for his compassionate approach to all his clients and knows their recovery and well-being are paramount.

Jonathon attended the University of Florida, earning his BA and BS, both with honors. He then went on to attend Stetson University College of Law. There, Jonathon learned and practiced the art of trial advocacy. He also clerked for the Honorable Shawn Crane and interned at the State Attorney’s Office and Public Defender’s Office during his time at Stetson.

Following his graduation, Jonathan went on to work as Assistant Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial Circuit. Then he moved on to defending the rights of the accused in State and Federal Courts as an associate with the Hebert Law Group. From there, he worked as a Civil Trial Litigator and partner with Goodis, Thompson & Miller representing some of the largest insurers in Florida.

Jonathon uses his inside knowledge of insurance practices to help policyholders hold insurance companies accountable. He knows how to win a successful insurance claim.

Caitlin Szematowicz

Caitlin Szematowicz is a Partner at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. She has been practicing Civil & Commercial Litigation, Appeals, and Employment Law with the firm since August 2012.

She is not only distinguished for her professional excellence but also known for her active involvement in the legal community. The Best Lawyers in America® is just one of Caitlin’s many accolades. She has also been recognized as a “Rising Star” Florida Super Lawyer for five consecutive years (2018-2022) and was named Florida Trend Legal Elite in 2022.

While she dedicates her career work to the service of others, Caitlin has successfully built an impressive extracurricular portfolio involving numerous leadership positions. She currently serves as the Past President of the Barney Masterson American Inn of Court. In addition, Caitlin has previously served as the President of the St. Petersburg Bar Foundation and Past President of the Pinellas County Trial Lawyers Association. She was also a member of the Board of Trustees for the St. Petersburg Bar Foundation for six years.

Caitlin has served on the St. Petersburg Bar Foundation’s annual professionalism seminar committee and is appointed to the Sixth Judicial Circuit’s Professionalism Committee. She was also selected twice as a speaker for the Florida Bar Practicing with Professionalism CLE.

Her peers chose her as a recipient of the Barney Masterson American Inn of Court’s Thomas E. Penick, Jr. “The Rock” Award for her exceptional service to the community.

Caitlin graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in May 2012. Before that, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of Tampa’s Honors Program in 2008.

Caitlin graduated from law school with Pro Bono and Criminal Justice certificates. She was also a notable research associate with the Florida Innocence Commission, contributing significant research work. As such, she was recognized for her outstanding research contributions to the Florida Innocence Commission’s Final Report to the Supreme Court of Florida.

During her school years, she worked as an appellate law clerk for a firm in Washington, DC. She also was an extern at the US Attorney’s Office and a Certified Legal Intern at the State Attorney’s Office.

Andrew R. Pardun

Andrew R. Pardun was recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for Real Estate Law.

He is currently a partner with the firm. He specializes in the following areas: Commercial & Residential Title Insurance, Commercial and Residential Real Estate Closings, and Business Law.

Andrew received his Juris Doctorate Degree at Stetson University College of Law and his MBA with honors. He completed his MBA with a perfect 4.0 GPA and was a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honors Society.

In addition, Andrew completed his Master of Laws Degree in Taxation at Villanova University. Before that, he attended the University of South Florida for his undergraduate studies, majoring in Finance. He also served as the President of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and Vice President of the Interfraternity Council.

Andrew’s has been recognized him in the legal community with a perfect 10/10 ranking from AVVO. He’s also a Super Lawyer’s Rising Star, one of the most distinct honors available to Florida attorneys.

Andrew is comfortable in leadership positions and has continuously held them throughout his life. After college, Andrew gained experience working in the financial services industry and co-owned a real estate investment firm in Tampa.

Andrew is the current Treasurer of the St. Petersburg Bar Association. He has also served as the Chairman of the Real Property Section of the St. Petersburg Bar Association.

Mayor Rick Kriseman recently appointed Andrew to the City of St. Petersburg’s Nuisance Abatement Board. He is also an active member of the Attorneys’ Title Fund, Pinellas Realtors Organization, and The Barney Masterson’s American Inn of Court.

Bruce Marger

Bruce Marger is recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for his practice in Litigation and Practice in Trusts and Estates.

Bruce is also experienced and practices in the following fields: estate planning, estate and gift tax planning, income tax planning for estates and trusts, probate and trust administration, and real property law, as well as probate and trust litigation and planning related to qualified plan/IRA distributions.

After graduating from Miami Senior High, he completed his higher education studies at the University of North Carolina and Harvard Law School. Bruce double-majored in Political Science and Accounting. While at UNC, he was also chair of the Debate Council and a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Beta Gamma Sigma. Then, while at Harvard, he concentrated his studies on tax and estate planning.

He is currently an active member of the Florida Bar. In addition, he serves as Chair of the Judicial Poll Committee and Chair of the Real property, Probate, and Trust Law Section. He also contributed to developing the board certification in Wills, Trust and Estates law. Furthermore, Bruce is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC).

A respected veteran, Bruce served in the US Air Force and Air Force Reserves for 15 years before practicing law. He earned a rank as a Major before leaving the service to practice law full-time. He is married to his college sweetheart, Mary Ann, and they have three children.

Robert Kapusta, Jr.

Robert Kapusta, Jr. is recognized in the 2023 edition of Best Lawyers for his practice in Real Estate Law.

Robert’s expertise in Real Estate Law is varied and extensive; he practices in the following areas: Mergers and Acquisitions, Tax and Estate Planning, and Business and Corporate Law.

Prior to practicing with Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., Robert practiced with Fisher & Sauls. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law, and Master of Laws (LLM) degree in taxation from the University of Florida College of Law.

Robert is also a Certified Public Accountant and is admitted to practice in all Florida courts.

While not practicing law, Robert volunteers his time and talents to local community organizations. He is passionate about helping local businesses grow. As such, he also helps foster the growth of economic vitality, arts education and appreciation, and capital school improvements.

Additionally, Robert dedicates himself to expanding educational programming opportunities in St. Petersburg. He does so through various leadership positions and civic activities. Aside from his awards as an outstanding legal professional, he’s also won the following awards:

  • H. Bernice (“Bernie”) Lodge Lay Person of the Year Award for 2008-2009 from the St. Petersburg Kiwanis Club
  • “Hero Among Us” award in 2015 from the St. Petersburg Bar Foundation in recognition of his tireless community service

Elite Attorneys, Helping Clients in Need

The firm would like to congratulate all 8 attorneys on achieving The Best Lawyers in America® award. This would not have been without such wonderful and loyal clients. The goal of each of our lawyers is to put the client’s best interest first.

2 08, 2022

10 Signs That Your Insurer Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim

By |2022-08-02T08:53:00-04:00August 2nd, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , |

An undervalued or underpaid property damage claim can force you to pay the remaining repair bills yourself, which could be thousands of dollars.

Insurance companies are notorious for doing everything they can to minimize their outgoing costs. Remember – they’re for-profit and care more about their finances than your stress levels or bank balance.

But that doesn’t mean you have to accept their low-ball offers. You should, as a paying customer, receive the maximum possible settlement.

Here are the top red flags that your insurer has undervalued your property damage claim:

How to Know If Your Insurer Has Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim

1. Their Estimate Seems Too Low

If you feel that the estimate is too low, trust your gut and intuition. More often than not, if you suspect it’s too low, then it probably is.

A good way to be sure is to gather as much evidence and information about the damage from day one. Gather receipts and independent quotes to repair the damage.

If the insurance company’s estimate doesn’t come close to yours, they may have been acting in bad faith or made careless errors. In which case, it’s time to act and contact a property damage attorney for swift legal support.

2. The Insurance Adjuster Rushed the Property Inspection

Soon after you open your claim, an insurance adjuster will visit the property to assess the damage and determine what needs repairing or replacing. Sometimes, these adjusters will rush their job.

Whether they’re careless or have bad faith intentions, it can leave you with a lower settlement offer than you need.

If you experience an adjuster quickly walking around the property without paying attention to the details, then alarm bells should be ringing.

3. Your Insurance Claim Is Being Processed Quicker Than Expected

While everyone wants quick service after a disaster, a big red flag is if things go unusually quickly. For example, you might be given an offer the same day you call them. This might also come in a ‘take it or leave it’ style of offer.

Your settlement should cover the true value of the property damage and nothing less.

4. Damage Was Overlooked

Review the insurance settlement document carefully to ensure all damaged elements are covered under the policy.

If damage has been overlooked in your settlement offer or communications with your insurance company, you need to act.

The insurance adjuster may have made a mistake or acted in bad faith, forcing you to pay out of pocket to repair your property.

5. Part of Your Claim Was Denied

Similarly, if any part of your claim was denied, then your property damage insurance claim may be undervalued.

Denial of claims can come in all sorts of forms (which are mentioned below) and are commonly used to save insurance companies money.

If your property damage claim has been denied or partially denied, it’s not game over. The case can be reopened. Contact a property damage attorney as soon as possible.

6. You’ve Been Offered the Actual Cash Value, Instead of Replacement Costs

Your insurance carrier may also offer to pay the actual cash value instead of the full cost required to replace or repair the property.

‘Actual cash value’ is what the property or appliance is worth today, not what it will cost to replace or repair it.

7. They Claim You Caused Damage

If your insurance carrier believes or accuses you of causing damage (or failing to mitigate damage), it’s a common sign that they’re cutting out parts of your claim. For example, they may say water damage was because you left a window open – when in reality, you didn’t.

8. Repair Quotes Are Less Than Expected

It’s advised that you receive an independent quote from a contractor for repairs, so you can ensure you’re not getting undervalued by your property damage claims insurer.

If the repair quotes are less than expected, it’s time to call an attorney to avoid covering the remaining bills.

9. You’re Told Not to Contact an Attorney

If you’re warned that you can’t contact an insurance lawyer without voiding your insurance policy, then do the exact opposite!

This threat is nonsense and hints that the insurance company wants to hide its bad-faith tactics. They may be lowering your settlement payment.

10. You’re Told About a Loophole or Lack of Coverage

Another common sign that your insurer has undervalued your property damage claim is when you’ve been told about a lack of coverage or loopholes.

While in Florida, you need to be aware of the difference between flood and water damage, you should be sensitive to any claims that you can’t get coverage for certain areas of the home.

If you do hear this, there’s a good chance you’re being tricked. Carefully review your policy documents and contact an attorney as soon as possible.

What To Do If Your Property Damage Claim Has Been Undervalued?

If your insurer has denied or undervalued your property damage claim, contact a property damage insurance lawyer immediately.

They will aggressively fight on your behalf to get the maximum possible settlement, closing down any tricks or manipulation attempted by the insurer. You deserve a fair settlement and their legal expertise will get it.

If necessary, they will be able to take legal action, but in most cases, the mere presence of a reputable lawyer is enough for the insurance company to wake up and act fairly.

Read related: The 10 Mistakes You Should Never Make When Filing Home Insurance Claims

Florida Property Damage Attorneys

Free Consultations!

If your insurance carrier has undervalued or denied your property damage claim after a disaster, then our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim 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 you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

12 07, 2022

The 10 Mistakes You Should Never Make When Filing Home Insurance Claims

By |2022-07-12T11:07:32-04:00July 12th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: |

Are you about to file a property damage insurance claim? Stop! Don’t begin until you’ve educated yourself on these top 10 home insurance claim mistakes!

First up, you must know the truth about insurance companies – they’re for-profit and care far more about their profit margins than you! They’ll do anything in their power (and more) to undervalue your claim or outright reject it, leaving you to pay tens of thousands of dollars for property repairs.

Here’s what you shouldn’t ever do when filing an insurance claim:

1. Forgetting to Read Your Policy

Your insurance carrier will try to take advantage of you if you aren’t aware of your home insurance policy. As you won’t know what is covered, there’s a good chance they’ll say what happened isn’t part of their coverage or that your home falls into a loophole.

So make sure you read the entire homeowner’s policy contract, including endorsements. If you still find that the insurance carrier makes false claims, or tries to confuse you, then call a property damage lawyer for professional assistance.

2. Waiting Too Long to Inform Your Insurer

If your property has suffered damage, contact your insurer immediately.

A delayed report can give your insurer time to make false claims such as “you failed to timely report your claim” or “you failed to mitigate the damage”.

Plus, most homeowner insurance policies have conditions that require timely notice of damage. Finally, the sooner you inform your insurer, the quicker those repairs and payments can happen.

3. Failure to Document Enough Evidence

Evidence is essential in any insurance claim. But the common home insurance claim mistake is not gathering enough evidence!

You must take photos of everything, from the glaringly obvious to slightly damaged appliances or your damaged doors and windows. Then when you’ve taken them all, take some more! Take a video and record what happened on the day of the incident.

You should also inventory all the damaged and undamaged property, including repair costs and purchase price. If you can enter your home safely, gather any receipts too.

Finally, document every communication you have with insurance adjusters and representatives. Keep a list of their names, contact information and the time and date of each call. Safely store all paper documents.

4. Discarding or Cleaning Property Damage Too Soon

Don’t discard damaged appliances or property unless instructed by authorities or your insurance company. Even if the property is burnt or flooded, ensure it stays at the location until an adjuster has inspected it!

If you don’t do this, your homeowner’s insurance adjuster may claim there’s no proof of the damage so they can’t include it in your settlement. To help the process, make an inventory list of all damaged property and costs.

5. Failing to Mitigate the Damage

Another disastrous home insurance claim mistake is not taking steps to prevent the property from suffering further damage. Your insurance company may reject or reduce your settlement if they find this was the case.

For example, if a storm has broken doors or windows, then you should make temporary repairs. Or, if there is a damaged water pipe on the property, you should turn off the water supply.

6. Admitting You Were to Blame

Imagine you thought you may have made a mistake such as leaving a window unlocked during a storm that caused water damage. Don’t admit it! This may see your claim reduced or rejected.

Alternatively, you may have made no mistakes at all but the insurance adjuster may ask questions that trick you into admitting fault. Stay alert and never take the blame!

Read Related: What’s the difference between water and flood insurance?

7. Assuming Your Insurer’s Calculations Are Correct

So the insurance adjuster has visited your property, assessed the damage and calculated the total repair costs and replacement costs. How do you know that figure is correct?

Many people assume it is and then a few months later are forced to pay for repairs out of their own pocket. Construction costs are especially prone to wide variations between insurer quotes and reality.

In reality, you can always question the calculations. You can receive your own repair quotes and you can question it all. You have the right to do so.

If you disagree, let the insurer know – provide your own estimates for the repairs. With rising construction costs, supply chain disruptions and inflation, there is a good chance the cost the insurance company believes will make you whole, will not. Once you get your own estimates, submit them to the insurance carrier and demand that they pay the estimates you provided.

8. Assuming the Insurer’s Offer is Final

If you’re unhappy with the insurer’s offer, you can negotiate. If they reject your claim, you can appeal. They cannot close your case to silence you.

If you’ve been unfairly denied or underpaid in a property damage claim, then contact a property damage attorney as soon as possible.

9. Thinking You Can’t Reopen a Home Insurance Claim

Most homeowners insurance companies will inform you that the case is closed once they’ve paid you. But that’s just their way of saying they’re not dealing with it anymore.

Actually, you can reopen a claim so long as you did not sign a full and final settlement release. You may need to reopen a claim if you find the settlement offer wasn’t enough to cover the extensive damage, or that repair work was more extensive than predicted.

These situations are far from easy though as insurance adjusters will try to manipulate you or shut you out. Therefore you should hire a property damage attorney for aggressive professional representation.

10. Trying to Tackle a Complex Home Insurance Claim Alone

Whether your case is complex because of its size or because your insurer is playing games, a common home insurance claim mistake is handling it without a lawyer’s assistance.

While trying to handle the emotions of a damaged home, you’ll also need to deal with manipulative insurance adjusters and a lot of paperwork!

Property damage lawyers work on your behalf to deal with insurance companies. Their presence alone can often end the insurer’s tricks and bring a far higher offer.

In most cases, the offer you’ll receive with a lawyer’s assistance (including the lawyer’s fee) is larger than without.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered damage and you’ve been undervalued, denied or unfairly treated in your claim, then our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim 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 you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

7 06, 2022

10 Must-Know Home Insurance Claim Adjuster Secret Tactics

By |2022-06-07T13:52:43-04:00June 7th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , |

Every homeowner must know the common home insurance claim adjuster’s secret tactics. Insurance companies are for-profit and care far more about saving money than helping their customers out.

These tactics are completely unfair but go unnoticed due to desperate home insurance claimants. Sadly, studies show these tactics help boost insurance companies’ profits every year.

By becoming aware of these common home insurance claim adjuster secret tactics, you can avoid manipulation and gain the maximum possible settlement for your home insurance claim.

Common Home Insurance Claim Adjuster Secret Tactics

Secret Tactic 1: Tricking You to Admit Fault

Throughout the industry, insurance companies try to trick claimants into admitting fault. But by admitting fault, or partial fault, your claim can be worth significantly less.

In property damage claims, the common secret tactic is to claim you either:

For example, they might say that you didn’t lock your windows, which caused flooding during a storm, or that your appliances were damaged long before a fire.

If you’re unaware of these tactics, it’s easy to get tricked into admitting fault. It can happen so easily, from a question such as “Were your windows locked?”

In some cases, you might even experience ‘gaslighting’. Which is where they’ll trick you into thinking you were the cause.

We know it’s difficult if you’re in a vulnerable position. Insurance claims adjusters use tricky questions to shift the blame. Don’t give in easily. They’re not your friends.

Secret Tactic 2: Delaying

Your insurance claims adjuster is likely to try delaying tactics. They’ll know from experience that most people get tired of delays when they’re desperate for money and repairs.

From not calling you back or answering emails, they’ll do whatever they can to push you into accepting a low-ball offer.

Don’t give in. If you experience delaying tactics, then you’re a victim of bad faith and can call a property damage attorney.

Secret Tactic 3: False Deadlines

In their goal to get you to accept a low-ball settlement offer, insurance agents will tell you that you have until a specified date to accept the offer or leave empty-handed.

The truth is, this is a scare tactic. It’s a made-up deadline that you do not have to accept. In reality, you always have a chance to negotiate a better settlement offer and are not obliged to accept their low-ball offer before a deadline.

If this does happen to you and you’re afraid, you can contact a property damage attorney who will quickly call the insurance company and set things straight.

Secret Tactic 4: Policy Loopholes

Insurance policy documents are usually long and complicated. That’s intentional.

Many of our clients say that their insurers state the property damage isn’t covered in the insurance coverage. The reason given is usually some technical loophole.

More often than not, this is a lie. You’re their customer and you paid for this policy.

Secret Tactic 5: Requesting Unnecessary Documentation

Insurance adjusters require various documents, such as receipts, photo evidence, bills and reports. But a common insurance adjuster tactic is to ask for documents that aren’t needed because they know you don’t have them.

For example, you might get asked to provide a repair or construction bill from ten years before the property damage event. This is just another trick to wear you down to accept a low settlement offer.

Secret Tactic 6: Undervaluing Your Claim

When you get a low-ball offer, it’s probably not because you over-estimated damages. It’s more likely because insurance adjusters don’t want to pay you more and they want to wear you out.

The most common way this occurs is by claiming repairs can be completed for far less than the real price.

Do not give in. If you’re unhappy with the settlement offer, you can receive an independent inspection of the property and get contractor quotes. These can be used to prove that the claim has been underpaid or undervalued.

Property damage attorneys are of great use in these situations. They have the resources to prove the real costs of the damage so you don’t end up out of pocket later down the line.

Secret Tactic 7: Advising You Not to Use an Attorney

Insurance companies are scared of attorneys because they know that they’ll reveal their tactics as bad faith behavior.

Your insurance agent may try to tell you that hiring an attorney is either unnecessary, a contract violation or a waste of money. None of this is true.

Using an attorney almost always produces a higher settlement, even after deducting attorney fees.

They can fight aggressively on your behalf through the claims process to avoid attorneys’ manipulation tactics and bring you the maximum possible settlement.

Secret Tactic 8: Acting Like They Care

Be warned of any overly friendly insurance adjuster. They’re not your friend; they work for an insurance company.

While it’s always appreciated that you’re treated with respect and sympathy, the red flags come when they try to ‘befriend’ you. They use this approach to get your guard down, so they can use information against you.

It’s not uncommon for adjusters to be paid bonuses for low settlements, and you’re just another opportunity.

Secret Tactic 9: False Promises Made by Insurance Companies

A home insurance claims adjuster might make promises for your benefit that, in reality, are a conflict of interest. Their priority is always the insurance company, not you!

They might, for example, say they’ll pay for a particular type of repair work and then later tell you that it was ‘excessive’ so it won’t be covered.

Secret Tactic 10: Painful Compensation Negotiations

Never forget that you can negotiate with an insurance company for a property damage settlement offer. But be warned, they will make it as difficult as possible.

They won’t just give you the figure you want at the first request, or the second. This is going to take some work, patience and nerve.

It is highly advised that you hire a property damage attorney, as they will negotiate on your behalf. The mere presence of a reputable attorney can be enough to make an insurance company’s negotiations go far, far quicker and result in a fair settlement.

Contact a Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim Attorney Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make a property damage claim, negotiate or tackle an unfair insurance claim adjuster, our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim 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 you navigate insurance disputes.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

17 05, 2022

How Do I Get the Most Out of My Homeowner’s Insurance Claim?

By |2022-05-17T12:46:48-04:00May 17th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Did you know that insurance companies will do everything in their power to minimize your homeowner’s insurance claim? Undervalued claims will leave you out of pocket if you need to make further repairs. As their customer, you deserve to receive the maximum possible payment.

Whether your home has been damaged by a hurricane, a flood, fire or any other disaster, you must act appropriately. Sadly, you can’t just leave it to your insurer. They’ll take advantage of your backseat approach and undervalue your claim.

As property damage attorneys, we’ve seen it all. Here are our top tips for optimizing your homeowner’s insurance claim:

Tips for Optimizing Your Homeowner’s Insurance Claim

Contact a Property Damage Attorney

All of the steps below are advised, but you can make your homeowner’s claim process much easier and stronger by working with a property damage attorney.

A property damage attorney tackles insurance companies and their tricks every day. They don’t fall for manipulation and know how to negotiate the best settlement offer.

They’ll also remove the stress you’re likely facing by handling all communications, from paperwork to phone calls.

If you run into any disputes with your insurer, they’ll also take the appropriate action. Some common disputes homeowners face with their own insurance companies are:

  • Undervalued Claims
  • Denied Claims
  • Delaying tactics
  • Manipulation or bullying tactics
  • Incorrect policy coverage
  • No or slow responses
  • You’re blamed for the damage
  • They claim the damage already existed.

Retain Evidence

In every homeowners insurance claim, evidence is key. Take pictures. When you’re done, take more.

Take all these photos before you clean the property or make temporary repairs.

There’s no such thing as too much detail here. From cracks in the floor to bowing ceilings and smoke stains, don’t leave anything undocumented.

You should also record detailed notes about everything you remember happening – such as when the disaster started, how long it lasted and what you heard or saw.

If possible, take notes from neighbors, witnesses and fire teams.

Finally, keep all receipts. If it’s safe to do so, that includes the receipts for your appliances. But it also includes repair bills and temporary accommodation expenses.

Remember, that before you make repairs related to mitigation or tear out, many homeowners policies require that they conduct an inspection. If you begin tear out or mitigation work and do not allow the insurance company to inspect before the work begins or tear out of the damaged items occurs, you may be subject to reduced coverage limits. One more reason to consult with a homeowners insurance attorney for your property damage claim.

Identify your Damages

You should first list everything that the incident has damaged and that needs replacing or repairing (such as appliances, furniture and electronics). As it relates to personal property, or “contents”, your list should note the date you purchased the item and the purchase price. Try to note model numbers.

Most homeowners insurance claims however fall under Coverage A, or damage to the actual home or commercial property. Be sure to document damages to your home or commercial property. For example, buckling floors after a water leak, or damaged drywall from water instruction after a windstorm. Being able to accurately show the damage will be critical in building a strong homeowners insurance claim.

Properly File Your Claim

Once you’ve completed the steps above, it’s time to file. Don’t delay. You should file your claim immediately to avoid the insurance company claiming that the delay somehow prevents coverage.

Before making a claim, read your policy to understand your coverage in detail.

Insurance adjusters regularly take advantage of homeowners who don’t know what they’re entitled to. But if you know what the policy covers, you reduce that risk.

It’s also essential that you know all the deadlines and contractual obligations. If you don’t, you could risk causing a delay in the process.

During the call, never accept a low-ball offer. This is not the time to accept an offer, as you haven’t even had the property professional assessed. It’s ok to negotiate a settlement later.

Make Temporary Repairs

Some damage shouldn’t be ignored. For example, a hole in the roof needs immediate work to avoid the rest of the house being damaged by rain and wind.

If you don’t take these immediate steps to make temporary repairs, the insurer may claim you failed to mitigate the damage – which could see your coverage reduced or denied entirely.

For example, if a broken window isn’t boarded up, you may lose your burglary coverage.

Keep all the receipts of professional repairs or materials you purchased to fix the damage. You will be able to include this in your homeowner’s insurance claim later.

Document All Communications

Ask for the insurance agent’s name and title.

If there are any problems or disputes later in the homeowner’s claim process, then this information could be very helpful. You’ll be able to refer back to the agent who previously spoke to you.

You should keep every email, letter or document you are sent. You should also take notes during your phone calls.

Get Independent Estimates

In some cases, it can feel like the insurance company has given an incorrect estimate. They use their own adjusters, so it’s sadly not rare to hear these stories.

In these cases, it can be wise to get an independent evaluation of your property. If you’re working with a homeowner’s insurance claim attorney, they will likely have the resources to help you gain an independent estimate.

You can then use quotes and estimates to negotiate with your insurance company, arguing that their settlement offer is insufficient for the required repairs.

Review Your Policy Again

Adjusters make mistakes. Sometimes these are intentional; sometimes they’re just errors.

If a claim is rejected because the insurer says you don’t have coverage, then dig out your homeowner’s insurance policy and read the fine print.

If you believe the decision doesn’t fit the policy, don’t give up. It’s time to contact a property damage attorney and solve this mess.

Contact a Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim Attorney Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make a property damage claim or have been unfairly denied, undervalued or tricked by your insurance carrier, then contact us today.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim 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 you navigate insurance disputes.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

15 03, 2022

What Your Home Insurance Company Doesn’t Want You to Know About

By |2022-03-15T11:15:52-04:00March 15th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: |

Did you know that home insurance companies are raising their property insurance rates for property owners in Florida?

Despite what many assume, Florida property insurance rates are not rising due to property value increase (20% within the last year). There’s another reason— the climate crisis.

Climate Change Causing Higher Property Insurance Premiums

What insurance companies aren’t revealing to their customers, is that they’re scared of the increasing frequency of natural disasters. As the climate crisis brings an increase in destruction, insurers are reevaluating their risk. The result? Higher premiums.

High-risk areas are even at the risk of more expensive loans or rejected loan applications, as the weather informs lending decisions.

It’s hard to predict just how high Florida property insurance rates could go, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new flood insurance rate structure suggests it certainly won’t be going back down again.

Why Are Insurers Raising Premiums?

Insurance companies have always been at risk of making massive losses due to natural disasters. Within recent years, their losses have been high enough to make them panic.

During 2021’s first nine months, the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) recorded 18 major storms – resulting in over $1 billion in losses.

As of December 1 2021, the NCEI also reported that nearly half the U.S. is under ‘moderate to exceptional drought conditions, which is a clear sign that other types of disasters are on the way.

How Are Florida Property Insurance Rates Set to Increase?

FEMA, which manages the flood insurance program, has taken action to improve its balance sheet. The method of rating risk based on whether a house is in a flood zone has been replaced by a new formula which covers:

  • The distance from the property to a flood source
  • The frequency and severity of flooding
  • Property characteristics, including potential flood rebuild costs

Those changes will force 3.3 million homeowners into paying more for their existing coverage.

Insurance Companies Are Desperate

When devastating years occur, insurance industry changes tend to occur.

In 1968, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created to protect property owners from flood damage losses. The NFIP also protects taxpayers who fund the program by reducing Federal exposure.

However, the NFIP requires extra funding from Congress from time to time and after years of inaction, has yet to be reconstituted and remains unable to pay its debts.

How Much Will Property Florida Insurance Rates Increase?

The average NFIP premium is currently priced at $734 per year. FEMA has stated it predicts 77% of flood insurance owners will experience a price rise.

How much? Between $88 to $240 per year! A lucky group will enjoy a lower premium, but the hardest hit will experience an increase spread over a few years.

Will I Be Affected?

So should you be worried? If you own property inside a specified flood zone, you are likely set to experience Florida property insurance rate increases.

However, it’s advised that anyone, especially Florida residents, obtain coverage. Floods can happen at any time and anywhere.

This is especially true for flood coverage. Floods are not covered by homeowners insurance and require a separate policy purchase. Read our guide on the difference between water damage and flood damage insurance here.

“The Insurance Business Is Reeling”

Jennifer Rasumussen, the author of a white paper detailing the future for policyholders, has said,

“The growing number of climate events has left the insurance business reeling. As the intensity and scope of future catastrophes grow, insurance rates for property owners will likely rise significantly.”

  • 39% of all home insurance claims in 2020 were caused by ‘catastrophic weather’
  • The rise in severe hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and other weather events linked to climate change has caused ‘significant risk’ for insurers.

You might assume that it’s just the coastal areas that are affected. But even inland areas are at risk of huge property losses for insurers. For example, in the first half of 2021, winter storms in Texas accounted for 40% of all U.S. total property losses. In fact, Texas has the highest threat level for wildfires – affecting 72% of the state’s population.

What Could the Climate Crisis Trigger?

The climate crisis is also putting a projected 1.2 million extra homes at risk of flooding over the next 30 years.

The mortgage business is extremely nervous about what should be insured and at what cost. The Mortgage Bankers Association is quoted as saying, “lenders will not be spared” by the knock-on consequences of climate change. Physical destruction will affect lenders, investors and loan programs.

Natural disasters could also trigger mortgage defaults and further stress on the housing system.

The Mortgage Bankers Association has said there have been important conversations regarding whether climate-related risks should be incorporated into underwriting decisions.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has informed various entities that they should have climate change as a priority concern when making purchasing decisions.

This could trigger lenders into demanding higher rates for loans on the high-risk property. How? With larger down payments or larger insurance policy costs. Maybe even a disaster policy? Or, at worst, a rejected loan.

Florida Climate Change Predictions:

  • More than 1,000 miles of Florida coastline are at risk from rising sea levels.
  • Increased Florida property insurance rates.
  • Record-breaking hurricanes.
  • Increase in flooding and harmful algals.
  • Tourism, agriculture and real estate development are threatened.
  • Sea level rises to lead to greater storm surges.
  • Billions of dollars of climate-proofing infrastructure will be required.
  • $26 billion worth of real estate is at risk of chronic flooding by 2045.
  • A ‘fully clean, carbon-free energy powered future’ is needed to save Florida’s economy, environment and people.

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2019 Report

Florida Property Damage Attorneys

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered damage and you’ve been undervalued, denied or unfairly treated in your claim, then our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim 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 you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

15 02, 2022

Should Your Mold Insurance Claim Actually Be a Water Damage Claim?

By |2022-02-15T12:37:43-05:00February 15th, 2022|Categories: Water Damage Law|Tags: , |

If you’re looking to make a mold insurance claim, it’s advised to consider making a water damage claim instead as well.

Many people notice mold growth in their homes and quickly jump to file mold insurance claims. The problem you should be worried about may actually be a water issue, which is causing mold growth.

A mold insurance claim alone may be subject to limited coverages and may not ultimately uncover the real source of the problem. This is why filing both a mold and water damage claim may be required.

Mold Insurance Claims vs. Water Damage Claims

What Is Mold Damage?

Mold damage is the presence of mold in a building that causes damage to property, furniture and personal belongings. If left unaddressed for a long time, mold can weaken the structural integrity of the building as it damages walls, floors, roof and wood.

Mold can also be a health concern for inhabitants, as the spores can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, respiratory infections or asthma.

What Is a Mold Insurance Claim?

A mold insurance claim is a type of property damage claim that seeks compensation for cleaning and repairs of the mold damage.

However, mold growth claims are usually subject to lower insurance coverage limits. There usually must be a reason for the mold growth, such as a sudden, unforeseen disaster.

Insurance companies will almost certainly not cover a mold insurance claim caused by a preventable issue such as poor maintenance, appliance usage or poor ventilation.

What Is a Water Damage Claim?

Water damage claims seek compensation to cover the costs of repairs for damage caused by water.

Water damage is caused by internal issues such as a plumbing disaster. For example, if a pipe suddenly bursts, then it would cause water damage.

We regularly get calls about minor mold damage, which is actually caused by a far bigger water problem.

Determine the Cause of Mold

In the cases of mold, you may or may not be aware of a water damage-related issue causing mold growth. For example, you may have a damaged pipe inside a wall.

In these scenarios, you should make a water damage claim.

Determining the cause of the mold is the best way to know whether you should make a water damage claim. You may require an inspection of your property.

Possible Causes of Water Damage:

Mold may be caused by water damage problems such as:

  • Ruptured pipes
  • Ruptured water heater
  • Appliance malfunction and leaks
  • Other unforeseeable plumbing issues
  • HVAC systems failing to drain
  • Automatic fire systems

What if Mold Was Caused By a Natural Disaster?

If you have mold following a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, flood or rainstorm, then coverage will come under a ‘flood insurance claim’.

While water damage claims cover accidents caused in the building, flood damage claims cover external events that are unpreventable.

However, coverage will not be applied if you don’t take the necessary steps to minimize the damage by shutting windows.

Read our guide on Water Damage vs. Flood Damage

Possible Causes of Flood Damage:

  • Hurricanes and storms
  • Rainstorms
  • Rivers overflowing
  • Lakes overflowing
  • Flooding from the ocean

How Do I Make a Water Damage Claim in Florida?

After you have determined that you have sustained water damage to your home, you should file a water damage claim:

Document the Damage

Document the damage immediately. Take photos of the damaged areas and evidence of the source of water – such as a damaged pipe, roof damage or water stain on a wall. If you have old photos of the home before the damage, get them ready to send to your insurer as they can show a before and after comparison.

Turn off water pipes and open windows to prevent further humidity issues but don’t clean or attempt to repair anything until an adjuster has reviewed the property – unless it is an immediate emergency (such as severe leaks).

Contact Your Insurance Company

Immediately notify your insurance company about the mold and water damage as soon as possible. A representative will ask you many questions about your claim to determine whether you have coverage under your homeowner’s policy.

It’s important to state you have photos of the damage and that it is caused by water or flooding – to avoid paying two deductibles. If it has been caused by flooding, you may need a flooding policy add-on.

Do I Need an Attorney for My Mold Damage?

Property damage claims can be quite stressful and tiresome. When it comes to mold damage, things can get even more complicated than usual.

Your insurer may try to blame you for the mold damage by saying things like, “The mold wasn’t caused by the water issue”, “You should have fixed it earlier” or “the mold is caused by poor ventilation”.

They may undervalue your claim or even outright deny it. Insurance companies are for-profit and will do everything they can to prevent paying you the money you need. That’s not right.

When you bought the policy, you expected to be protected in scenarios such as these.

As Florida property damage claim attorneys, we know their tricks. Having worked in the insurance industry ourselves, we don’t get bullied or manipulated by insurers. It’s very easy to get pressured into a low-ball offer, but we will communicate on your behalf to ensure you get coverage for the true value of your damage.

How to Prevent Mold Damage:

The best way to prevent mold damage is to prevent its growth. Florida is particularly mold-prone so it’s not unusual to have mold grow without big water or flood problems. You should:

  • Turn off your building’s water immediately if you suspect or see leaking or burst pipes.
  • Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to reduce humidity to 30-60%.
  • Ensure your home is properly insulated.
  • Install extraction fans in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Regularly clean out gutters.
  • Ensure your home has adequate ventilation – by installing ventilation holes if needed and allowing for fresh air.
  • Check crawl spaces, laundry rooms and beneath sinks for mold growth.
  • Replace hoses to appliances every five years to prevent leaks.
  • Remove any standing water immediately after photographing the damage.
  • Dry out any rugs or affected furniture.

How to Spot Mold:

If you’ve recently had water damage or flood damage incident, you may soon start to see mold growth in your home. Dealing with it fast can reduce the damage to your home and health. Here’s how you can spot it:

Smell

Mold has a very distinct smell. It can be compared to rotting leaves or may bring out the smell of paint on your walls.

The smell will be strong in the room where it is growing. If you smell it when you turn on your AC it is likely in that system. If you smell mold but can’t find it, it may be under an appliance, carpet or behind a wall.

Sight

Mold is often obvious and can be seen on walls, ceilings and wood. It will likely start as small black or gray spots or furry textures before growing into large merged stains.

However, sometimes it may be hard to find and be hidden behind furniture, sinks, appliances or in crawl spaces.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Water Damage Claims

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered water damage or flood damage in Florida, then contact us today for a free consultation.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim 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 you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

18 01, 2022

What Is an Insurance Dispute Lawyer?

By |2022-01-18T13:02:56-05:00January 18th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: |

Insurance dispute lawyers provide legal assistance when insurance companies fail to uphold their end of the insurance policy deal.

When homeowners purchase a homeowners insurance policy, they expect to be financially supported by the insurer when disaster strikes. Sadly, this doesn’t always happen. In fact, it’s rare that a check with the appropriate figure is simply handed over.

Instead, policyholders’ damages are undervalued, dismissed or manipulated into a lower amount causing the policyholder to miss out on the money they deserve.

An insurance disputes lawyer’s job is to hold insurers accountable and fight for what policyholders are entitled to.

In this blog, we’re going to run through an example of an insurance dispute case, with quotes from our lead Property Damage Claims Attorney, Jonathon W. Douglas.

‘I’m Helping Homeowners Recover What They’re Entitled To’

“When people ask me what a property claim is, it’s better described as an insurance dispute. I’m helping that homeowner recover, from their own insurance company, the benefits and policy proceeds that they’re entitled to.” – Property Damage Claims Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas

Example Scenario:

Imagine, for example, your home is severely damaged in a storm. The roof has been partially torn apart, which has caused interior water damage and physical damage to the exterior of the home. Appliances are destroyed, windows smashed and the home is now uninhabitable.

Disaster. But thankfully, you bought homeowners insurance which covered storms. You’d expect your insurer to step up and cover the repairs and other expenses, right?

So you make a claim, but the figure you’re offered is pathetic. It will only partially cover repairs and leave you significantly out of pocket.

At this point, it is clear that there is an insurance dispute. Your next question might be, “So why do I need an Insurance Dispute Lawyer?”

‘Insurance Carriers in Florida Are Unruly”

“These homeowners insurance carriers in the State of Florida are unruly.

Most of these insurance companies, in my opinion, simply have their own bottom line at stake. They’re not trying to pay what these claims are worth and they’re hoping that their own clients just go away.” – Property Damage Claims Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas.

Example Scenario:

After your claim has been undervalued, you confront the insurance company, claiming their offer is unfair and too small. Sadly, now their games begin. They will try a variety of tricks.

First, they might ignore you, letting weeks or even months go by before you get a reply. The reply is a refusal to re-evaluate your claim. So you ask again, challenging them. They come back claiming the extra coverage you’re asking for is either unnecessary, exaggerated or not covered in your policy.

At this point, many people give up. They are unsure of how to tackle the daunting insurers and may even see deadlines for their claim pass due to delaying tactics from the insurer.

At this point, or ideally far earlier, a professional legal expert can step in.

‘I Know How to Prepare My Clients for Those Tactics’

“My strategy for these clients is like it is for all of my clients – prepare the case for trial from day one and that will achieve an outcome for my client that will not only help them put their house back together but hopefully put their life back together financially.”

“I know the tactics that these insurance companies are using against their own insurers and I know how to prepare my clients for those tactics to set their cases up for success.” – Property Damage Claims Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas.

Example Scenario:

With the help of an experienced insurance dispute lawyer on your side, you go to battle with the insurer fully prepared. Now strong enough to protect your rights in the face of manipulation and other ‘bad faith’ tactics, you can prove the true worth of your damage claim.

“I Uphold the Insurance Policies My Clients Purchased”

“In insurance litigation cases, I will make sure that I do everything I can within my power to hold the insurance companies accountable and hold their feet to the fire for the obligations they are required to uphold in accordance with the insurance policies my clients purchased from them.” – Property Damage Claims Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas

Example Scenario:

Your insurance dispute lawyer holds the insurance company accountable. If they can’t be pressured into doing the right thing through communication, the litigation proceedings begins.

With the constant pressure from your insurance dispute lawyer, the insurance company will be forced to take the full value of your claim seriously.

Note: Although a severely damaged roof in a storm is an extreme example, insurance disputes can arise in all manner of property damage claims – from fallen trees to water damage.

When Is an Insurance Dispute Lawyer Needed?

Contacting an insurance dispute lawyer from day one can help you successfully make a property damage claim without drama and wasted time. However, the following criteria will call for the need of an attorney:

  • Undervalued Claims
  • Denied Claims
  • Insurers use delay tactics
  • Insurers use manipulative or bullying tactics
  • Insurers incorrectly state your policy doesn’t cover your damage
  • Insurers don’t reply to your messages
  • Insurers claim there is a loophole preventing you from receiving the payment
  • Insurers blame you for the damage
  • They claim the damage already existed prior to the incident.

Contact a Florida Insurance Dispute Lawyer Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make a property damage claim or have been unfairly denied, undervalued or tricked by your insurance carrier, then contact us today.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim 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 you navigate insurance disputes.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

5 01, 2022

Can You Make a Tornado Insurance Claim in Florida?

By |2022-01-05T15:37:46-05:00January 5th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , |

If your property or home has suffered damage from a tornado, we can help you make a tornado insurance claim. Doing so may help you rebuild your home and replace lost items or appliances.

Tornadoes in Florida

Although hurricanes make the headlines in Florida, tornadoes are extremely common, albeit far less severe.

While tornadoes plague the Midwest, Florida has more tornadoes per unit area, but they’re far weaker – at around EF0 or EF1 intensity.

Nevertheless, if a tornado works its way through your street, then it’s likely to cause significant property damage.

South West Florida has recently seen tornadoes cause homes torn apart, trees falling on cars, pool cages smashed and eye-watering property damage bills.

Fear not, twisters are just as valid as hurricanes so yes – you can make a Florida tornado insurance claim.

Here’s how:

How to Make a Florida Tornado Damage Claim:

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tornado Insurance Claims?

Natural disasters like hurricanes, storms, earthquakes and tornadoes cannot be stopped and tend to be covered by homeowners insurance.

However, it should be noted that flood damage (that is, water damage caused by storms and natural disasters) is not usually included in a typical homeowners insurance policy and must be purchased separately.

Click here to see our blog on Flood Damage vs Water Damage.

For example, if your home sustained roof damage from a tornado, your policy would likely cover the costs of repair, but it wouldn’t for the flooding that occurred as a result unless you have separate flood damage coverage.

Homeowners insurance will also likely reimburse any expenses if you cannot safely live in your home due to tornado damage.

Undervalued Claims

Sadly, having coverage doesn’t guarantee your insurance company will hand over a check easily, or with the figure you need on it.

Insurance companies are for-profit. They value their losses more than whether you get enough money.

People making tornado insurance claims in Florida are regularly undervalued. Which is a huge problem when trying to repair or rebuild your home and replace your belongings.

Speak to a Florida Tornado Damage Attorney

Fear not, we can help. As experienced Florida property damage attorneys, we regularly fight on behalf of homeowners to get the money they deserve.

Resolving Undervalued or Denied Claims

When you pay for your insurance, you expect to be protected in these scenarios. If you’ve been undervalued or denied in your claim, we can handle the communication on your behalf.

By presenting the evidence and not falling for their manipulation and tricks, we will bring you the results you deserve.

With first-hand experience of the insurance industry, our Florida property damage attorney team is respected by insurers which will also significantly help as they know we’re not going to be bullied.

Disagreements of Policy Coverage

In many cases, insurance companies try to trick homeowners into misunderstandings about their policy coverage.

For example, they’ll say they’ll fix a portion of your roof but not the entire roof.

In these scenarios, our Florida tornado insurance claim attorneys can help review your policy and handle all communications with the insurance company on your behalf.

Disagreements over Damage

Insurers may also claim the damage is less than you think. They might even say the damage already existed.

Our Florida tornado insurance claim attorneys will ensure the truth is respected and that the tornado damage is covered and not dismissed.

‘Bad Faith’ Insurers

If an insurance company unfairly denies, underpays, delays or tricks you it is called acting in ‘bad faith’.

In these scenarios, our Florida tornado insurance claim attorneys will protect your rights and if necessary file a lawsuit.

What If I’ve Already Made a Florida Tornado Insurance Claim?

If you’ve previously submitted a Florida tornado insurance claim then we can still help. Never accept a low ball offer, as we can step in and ensure all the damage is correctly documented and that the true valuation of your damage and repair cost is met.

How to Prepare for a Florida Tornado Damage Claim?

If your home or business has been damaged due to a tornado, then you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible to file the claim. However, it is always advised that you speak to a Florida property damage attorney first.

You may also have the urge to clean up your property immediately, but this may not be the best idea. An insurance company representative will assess the damage to determine how much they need to pay you, so don’t fix the evidence before that.

Ensure you take pictures of all damage before moving or salvaging anything. Keep notes, receipts, inventory and any evidence that could support your claim.

Florida Tornado Facts:

When is Florida’s Tornado Season?

Tornadoes in Florida form in different ways throughout the year. Most form in the spring or summer months as the strong sea breezes and tropical cyclones collide.

However, John Allen, an associate professor of meteorology at Central Michigan University, says:

“In North Florida, up towards Tallahassee, you can see high-end tornadoes with some regularity, but the further south you go, the less of a chance there is. You don’t have anything to worry about if you’re in Miami.

“You may not get the really high-end tornadoes, but Florida is susceptible to getting a large number of tornadoes up to EF2 intensity along with tropical system and that’s more than enough to kill someone or cause significant damage.”

How Many Tornadoes Are There in Florida Each Year?

  • Florida has an annual average of 66 tornadoes.
  • Florida has the third-highest number of annual tornadoes in the U.S.
  • An average of 1,253 tornadoes occur in the U.S. every year.

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Where Can I See Tornado Warnings?

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Tornado Damage

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered damage from a tornado or storm, contact us today to assist with your Florida tornado insurance claim.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim 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 you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

5 12, 2021

What’s the Difference Between Water Damage & Flood Damage?

By |2021-12-05T13:08:13-05:00December 5th, 2021|Categories: Insurance Claims, Water Damage Law|Tags: , , , |

Once hurricane season has done its damage, many homeowners are left confused about what the difference is between water damage and flood damage.

While these may seem like two of the same things, they’re actually completely different in the property damage insurance industry.

Why is it important to know the difference between water damage and flood damage? Because one is often missing from your usual homeowners or hurricane insurance policy – so, if you’re aren’t aware, you could be left paying for substantial repair bills.

Here’s what you need to know:

What Is Water Damage in Florida?

Water damage usually is caused by internal issues within the house, such as a plumbing disaster.

For example, imagine you’re at home, watching a movie with the kids, when suddenly you see water flowing down the stairs like a waterfall because a bathroom pipe has burst.

That’s water damage.

Examples of Water Damage:

  • Burst pipes
  • Toilet overflowing
  • Bathtub or shower leaks
  • Refrigerator or freezer leaks
  • Washing machine leaks
  • Dishwasher leaks
  • HVAC systems failing to drain
  • Automatic fire systems

What Is Flood Damage in Florida?

Flood damage defines damage caused by Mother Nature’s external force. Whereas water damage is caused by plumbing, toilets or human error, Flood damage is caused by natural sources such as storms and rivers.

If a river in your neighborhood rises over its banks into your home, that’s flood damage.

Examples of Flood Damage in Florida:

  • Hurricanes and storms
  • Rainstorms
  • Rivers overflowing
  • Lakes overflowing
  • Flooding from the ocean

What Does This Mean in a Property Damage Claim?

If you don’t have both included in your insurance policy, you’re at risk of not being covered for one of these types of damage.

Usually, Florida residents will have water damage coverage and not flood damage coverage.

Given that Florida is extremely vulnerable to violent storms and hurricanes, having flood damage in your policy is highly advised.

If you’re unsure, pull out your insurance policy document and read over the terms.

Is Flood Damage Covered in Hurricane Policies?

If a hurricane causes flooding in your home, you will not be covered by your hurricane damage policy in Florida.

Sadly, many people make this assumption and are left to cover a huge bill after a hurricane.

A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover all flood damage, even if it is caused by the most violent hurricane in history.

There is usually a 30-day waiting period when adding flood insurance, so it’s always advised to be proactive rather than reactive and buy the additional policy now.

What to Do if My Property Has Suffered Water Damage or Flood Damage in Florida?

File a Property Damage Claim

If your property has suffered water damage or flood damage in Florida, you can file a property damage claim to cover the expenses required for repairs.

However, this is easier said than done.

Property damage claims will require you to communicate and negotiate with insurance companies who have one intention – to pay you as little as possible.

In many cases, we’ve seen homeowners denied completely, as the insurance company claims it was because a window was left open, for example.

Undervalued claims are also a common trick used by insurance companies, as they pressure property owners into a lowball offer.

Accepting these offers leaves the owners without enough coverage for their repairs and they end up paying money out of their own pocket.

Speak to a Water Damage Attorney

That’s why it’s highly advised that you first speak to a Florida water damage attorney. We will communicate with the insurers on your behalf, avoiding their manipulation techniques and getting you the true coverage for your property damage.

Document The Damage

If safe to do so, you should also document the water damage or flood damage as this can become crucial evidence.

Take pictures of the property and keep receipts for appliances and any emergency repairs.

What Damage Is Caused by Water and Flooding?

When disaster strikes, either inside or outside of the home, your property may suffer severe flooding and water-inflicted damage. This can result in catastrophic damage that is expensive to repair and may not be immediately visible. This may include:

Structural and Electrical Damage

Large quantities of water can cause structural damage that can make the property unsafe to live in.

  • Buckling floors
  • Roof damage
  • Foundational cracks and movements
  • Weakened doors and window frames

Additionally, if you notice any broken or frayed electrical wires in your home after a flood, be very careful. These may be lethal and are warning signs to stay out of the home immediately until an electrician assesses them.

Appliance Damage

Appliances are expensive purchases that can be destroyed in seconds by water. Appliances at floor level are usually severely damaged in floods, beyond repair. Appliances are usually covered in flood damage or water damage claims.

Mold and Mildew

Mold can begin to grow on the same day the water or flood damage occurs. Mold can cause health issues and severe damage to building materials, drywall, flooring, insulation and personal property.

Professional mold cleaning and repairs can be covered in a property damage claim.

Septic and Well Water Systems

Septic tank filters can get clogged by flooding debris, limiting its use. Similarly, wells can become contaminated.

Termite and Bug Infestation

Moldy and flooded areas can quickly become the perfect home and breeding grounds for rodents, termites and unpleasant bugs. Cleaning out these will require professional services that should be covered in water damage or flood damage claims.

Recap – What’s the Difference Between Water Damage and Flood Damage Claims?

  • Water damage is caused by internal disasters, such as burst pipes and plumbing accidents.
  • Flood damage is caused by acts of nature, such as hurricanes and flooding rivers.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Water Damage and Flood Damage Claims

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered damage due to water damage or flood damage in Florida, then contact us today for a free consultation.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim 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 you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.