News related to "Insurance Claims"

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1 11, 2022

What to Do if Your Hurricane Ian Claim Is Undervalued or Denied

By |2022-11-01T15:47:58-04:00November 1st, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , |

Florida is seeing a vast number of undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian insurance claims. That’s because Hurricane Ian has caused billions of dollars worth of property damage, and that means insurance companies need to pay up!

Sadly, it’s people like you who they’re playing hard with. You’re one of the thousands of people who have had an undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian claim. Sadly, they don’t care about you. They’re not calling up victims and offering money. They’re hiding and playing hardball.

Here’s what to do:

How to Fight Back Your Undervalued or Denied Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim

90% of people won’t contest their undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian claim. But you can and should fight back! You’re their customer and it’s your home that’s suffered.

Don’t fall into the trap that there’s no room to negotiate or that you’ll lose the lowball offer they’ve sent you. You always have the right to negotiate, argue and fight back.

Call a Property Damage Lawyer

Property damage lawyers eat insurance companies for breakfast. When the advisor you’re talking to realizes there’s an attorney involved, they sit up and take notice.

We’ve worked on the opposite side of the table, so know what tricks they use. Now, it’s our job to help people like you.

We’ve got the experience and legal expertise to sift through complicated insurance policy documents and say “You’re wrong” to the insurers.

We do more than that too. From hiring independent adjusters to collecting evidence and ensuring your accommodation is paid for, we’ll fight to ensure you get the maximum possible settlement.

Prove Where The Water Came From

Is your house flooded? Insurance companies are going to ask you where that water came from. And then, they’ll probably say your “flood damage coverage does cover that”.

Fight back! Competing insurance coverage can help you out. For example, what about your wind coverage? That water may have come from the wind damage.

So you need to prove it by showing damage above the water line, such as in your soffits, windows and roof.

Wind. Driven. Rain. These three words can be used to tell your insurer that the damage wasn’t your fault, it was the relentless hurricane that blew a hole in your roof and then let the driving rain in.

Prove the Roof Damage

They’ll also probably say that the roof is damaged because it’s old. Which also means that you’ll lose value due to depreciation.

Most of the time, this is nonsense. It’s not because your roof is old. It’s because Hurricane Ian tore it apart. So how can you prove it?

Independent Adjusters

To prove the true value of your property damage after an undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian claim, you should work with an independent adjuster.

As property damage lawyers at a long-standing and highly-rated Florida law firm, we have the resources to provide you with an independent second valuation after a poor job from an insurer.

Insurance adjusters working for the insurance company know what they’re doing. They’re not really there to help you, no matter how nice they seem. They’re there to reject your property damage claim and make the insurance company happy.

This is also not the time to trust the people walking around the block handing out flyers. Call a professional who knows what they’re doing. We welcome you to receive a free consultation today.

Do Not Sign a Release

Red flag! Your insurance company may ask you to sign a release. Please as a property damage attorney to review the proposed release first.

Although the release may seem to cover the current damage, it doesn’t mean the damage is over. Hurricane damage tends to worsen over time, due to weakened foundations, structural damage and mold.

Keep Evidence of the Damage

Ensure you’ve still got photos saved of the Hurricane Ian property damage. Don’t accidentally delete them from your phone’s photos, only for them to be permanently deleted from your phone’s trash a few days later.

These photos and records are crucial to proving the true value of what you’ve lost and building a link from the hurricane to the damage.

You should also continue to record evidence. For example, if that hole in the roof still hasn’t been fixed by your insurance company and it’s starting to cause rain to come through – then take videos and photos to prove it.

  • Keep receipts.
  • Keep photos and videos.
  • List what you’ve lost.

Read Related: Type of Damage to Look for After Hurricane Ian

Keep a Record of All Conversations

Every call, email and letter you have with your insurance company should be noted or stored. Ask for the name of your insurance representative and make note of the time and date of the communication.

If they make any promises or offers, write this down. Don’t let them twist their words.

Be Wary of Manipulation and Bullying

Insurance representatives have a nasty talent for manipulating homeowners into admitting fault, accepting lowball offers and being pressured into simply giving up.

Don’t give in. We know how unpleasant that can feel. You may feel like you’re to blame. But you’re not. Or at worst, let’s see them prove it.

Our property damage lawyers can communicate with your insurance carrier on your behalf, so you can relax and focus on recovering from the natural disaster with your family.

The following are key warning signs that your Hurricane Ian claim denial or valuation was unfair:

  • Delaying tactics
  • Manipulation and/or bullying
  • Incorrect policy coverage claims
  • Slow responses or no responses
  • You’re blamed for the damage
  • You’re told you don’t have the right to speak to a lawyer.

Hurricane Ian Property Damage Stats:

Contact a Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim Lawyer Today

Free Consultations!

If you’ve had an undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian insurance claim, 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 navigate hurricane insurance disputes.

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

12 10, 2022

10 Signs That You Need a Hurricane Ian Claims Lawyer

By |2022-10-12T13:51:28-04:00October 12th, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , |

Due to its devastating impact and destruction, millions of people are currently making Hurricane Ian claims in Florida.

The answer lies in the circumstances of your claim, but here’s our underlying message:

Insurance companies are for-profit companies that will do everything possible to minimize their outgoing costs. Florida is facing losses of up to $47 billion, so they may try to manipulate, deny and undervalue their customers.

Here are the ten key signs that it’s time to hire a Hurricane Ian claims lawyer:

When It’s Time to Hire a Hurricane Ian Claims Attorney

1. Distinguishing between Flood Losses and Homeowners Insurance Losses

Your homeowner’s insurance and flood insurance may be disputing the type of damage to either undervalue your claim or deny it entirely. This happens when there is both a flood loss and a homeowners insurance loss. Homeowners insurance carriers will look to place any and all blame on the flood loss attempting to reduce the amount to be paid by the Homeowners insurance carrier.

Our Hurricane Ian claims lawyers will work with you to prove what caused the water damage, wind damage, and flood damage to ensure you get the full benefit of the available insurance coverages.

Read Related: What’s the Difference Between Water Damage & Flood Damage?

2. If Your Claim Has Been Denied

Call a Hurricane Ian claims lawyer fast if your insurance claim has been denied.

There are very few reasons why your claim should be denied entirely, yet insurance companies try it in the hope that their customers will accept it and move on.

In some cases, denials are unjust and can even be in bad faith. Our hurricane Ian claims attorneys can reopen your case and prove that you are entitled to compensation to repair or rebuild your home.

3. If You’re Asked to Sign a Release

If your insurance company asks you to sign a release soon after the storm (or if you still have unresolved damage), then alarm bells should be ringing. Call an attorney so they can review the proposed release.

Just because the storm has passed doesn’t mean the damage has. Hurricane damage can worsen over time, due to weakened foundations, structural damage and more.

A release may be a trick to lure you into limiting how much the insurer owes you.

4. Your Claim Has Been Undervalued

Call a Hurricane Ian claims lawyer fast if your insurance company fails to provide coverage for the entire loss.

It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to cut corners on their estimates to minimize their outgoing cost. But in reality, you will be left to pay out-of-pocket for the remaining repairs and replacements.

An attorney can reveal the true value and scope of the loss by using contractors, engineers and other professionals that specialize in dealing with insurance claims.

Read Related: 10 Signs That Your Insurer Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim

5. Negotiations Are At a Stand-Still

The mere presence of an attorney can help get negotiations moving in the right direction, as the insurance company knows there’s no point messing you around anymore.

6. You’ve Been Told You Don’t Have Coverage or About ‘Loop-Holes’

It’s very easy for an insurance company to overcomplicate things. They know that many customers will accept the idea of mysterious ‘loopholes’ and policy fine print. Don’t fall for this.

If you contact our Hurricane Ian claims lawyers, we’ll review your policy and take action if the insurance company’s claims are baseless.

Common Examples:

  • The adjuster says you’re only entitled to the ‘Actual Cash Value’, but really you should be reimbursed for Replacement Cost.
  • Adjusters say detached buildings are not covered when your policy says they are.

7. You’ve Been Delayed or ‘Ghosted’

Contact a Hurricane Ian lawyer if your insurance carrier may be acting in bad faith.

If your insurance company is not responding or has failed to meet the deadlines, then they must pay your claims. They may also be required to pay penalties and attorney fees if they are found to have acted in bad faith..

8. You’re Advised Not to Use an Attorney

Red flag! You always have the right to use an attorney in a property damage claim. If you’re told otherwise, it means the insurer is trying to hide or get away with something. They cannot and will not penalize you for using an attorney. If that happens to you, think of doing the opposite, fast!

9. You’ve Been Pushed to Admit Fault

Insurance companies may try to trick homeowners into admitting fault to avoid paying out.

You might be asked to admit that you left a door or window open, or that you didn’t realize the damage existed long in advance. Most likely, this isn’t true.

We know navigating the claims process is challenging, but don’t give in. Contact a Hurricane Ian claims attorney so they can handle the claim on your behalf.

10. You’re Bullied or Manipulated

Finally, if your insurer is pressuring you, emotionally bullying you or using any other tricks, then call a property damage lawyer as soon as possible.

Don’t feel like you’re overreacting. We understand what you’re going through. This is your home on the line, and you deserve the maximum possible settlement.

Signs That You Don’t Need a Property Damage Lawyer Yet

Alternatively, there may be signs that you don’t need to pick up the phone just yet.

  • They’re sending new adjusters or specialists to review your property.
  • They’re replying swiftly and treating you with respect.
  • They explain everything clearly.
  • They’re not pressuring you.
  • They’re not undervaluing or denying your claim.
  • You understand and feel confident in the claims process.

Contact a Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim Lawyer Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make or dispute a Hurricane Ian insurance claim, 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 navigate hurricane insurance disputes.

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

1 10, 2022

Florida Is Preventing Insurers From Cancellations and Non-renewals After Hurricane Ian

By |2022-10-01T13:23:09-04:00October 1st, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , |

Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday, September 28, 2022, in Southwest Florida and barrelled through Central Florida before moving to the Atlantic Ocean.

With the aftermath wreaking havoc for many Florida homeowners, a new emergency order might be a saving grace for some. In addition, the temporary order may protect homeowners from losing their policies. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is the Emergency Order?

In light of Hurricane Ian, Florida temporarily prohibits insurers from dropping customers. This week, Insurance Commissioner David Altamaier issued an emergency order temporarily blocking cancellations and non-renewals of policies.

The order is set to last for two months. According to the emergency order, “Between September 28, 2022, and November 28, 2022, insurers or other entities regulated under the Florida Insurance Code may not:

  • Cancel or on-renew
  • Issue a notice of cancellation or non-renewal of a policy or contract

This applies to any insurance policy covering property or risk in Florida. The exception to this emergency order is when there is a written request or written agreement of the policyholder.

What’s the Purpose of the Emergency Order?

The Emergency order is to protect homeowners and property insurance policyholders. In addition, the order will temporarily protect homeowners from losing their policies if Hurricane Ian damages their property. Under the order, insurers are barred from canceling or non-renewing policies for a minimum of 90 days after the property repairs.

Insurance Commissioner Altmaier ordered a similar order following Hurricanes Irma(2017), and Michael 2018 which devastated much of Florida.

Florida’s Troubled Insurance Market

The order came amid pre-existing concerns about how Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 hurricane, will affect an already struggling insurance market. Six insurance companies in Florida have been deemed insolvent since February 2022. Other companies have dropped thousands of policies to cut their financial losses. As a result, many dropped customers have turned to the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. for coverage.

Governor Ron DeSantis has publicly expressed his confidence in the company, stating that “Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will not have a problem paying claims.” Despite being created as an insurer or last resort, the company has nearly 1.1 million policies. They also have the largest number of policies in Southeast Florida and the Tampa Bay area.

DeSantis claims to have spoken with Citizens, saying that the company feels good about being solvent through this. “They have about a $6 to $7 billion surplus,” DeSantis said, referring to Citizens’ money available to pay claims.

Previous Reform in Florida’s Property Insurance Provided Relief for Floridians

With Florida insurers facing insolvency and financial calamity, DeSantis called a special legislative session in May to try to strengthen the industry. Lawmakers agreed to spend $2 billion to provide a “layer of reinsurance” to property insurers. The bipartisan legislation Governor DeSantis implemented in May was one of the most significant and comprehensive property insurance reforms Florida has seen in decades. It provided short and long-term relief to Floridians to combat skyrocketing insurance costs.

The $2 billion will be reinsurance for insurance carriers to buy from reinsurance companies and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. Reinsurance is backup insurance for carriers and plays a vital role in the Florida market. Hurricane Ian is supposed to be the “first test” of the $2 billion reinsurance. Property insurance is already a tough market, and a category four hurricane like Ian will only make conditions more demanding. Reinsurance rates were already increasing before the hurricane, but reinsurers have added pressure to raise their rates now.

A significant part of Ian’s damage is expected to come from flooding, which is insured through the National Flood Insurance Program rather than private companies.

DeSantis explained that a lot would depend on private carriers’ financial situations. They must prove they are capitalized enough to pass “stress tests.” This year, that stress test was Hurricane Ian. They had to show that they had enough capital to pass that “stress test.” He said that all private carriers have reinsurance and that the CAT fund (Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund) is the highest it’s ever been, at $17 billion.

Get Legal Help For Storm and Hurricane Damage

If you are a Florida resident, we hope you and your loved ones have stayed safe through Hurricane Ian. We all know the devastating power of hurricanes and the property damage they can cause.

If you need legal assistance with a property damage claim, contact us today or call (727) 381-2300.

Schedule your no-risk, free consultation today.

6 09, 2022

How to Prepare for a Hurricane Damage Claim Before it Hits

By |2022-09-06T15:38:17-04:00September 6th, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , |

Knowing how to prepare for a hurricane damage claim before it hits is wise for all Florida residents. With more than 32 million U.S. homes at risk of hurricane damage, many people may need to file a claim in the future.

When a hurricane does hit, paperwork and documentation will either be too big a stress to handle or too late to search for. If you’re not prepared, your insurance company will use all sorts of reasons to minimize your settlement. They even try when you are prepared!

As experienced hurricane damage attorneys, we recommend taking the following steps to ensure you’re prepared for a hurricane damage claim in advance.

Steps to Prepare for a Hurricane Insurance Claim

Review Your Home Insurance Policy

Insurance companies try to take advantage of customers who lack knowledge. They often try to minimize costs by saying things like “you don’t have sufficient coverage” or “there’s a loophole”.

But if you know what your homeowners’ policy contains, you can fight back against their unfair denial and mind games.

Make sure you:

  • Have an up-to-date copy of your insurance policy
  • Keep a hard and digital copy.
  • Review your policy, so you know the details of your policy

Know your:

  • Coverage limits.
  • What your insurance covers;
  • What your insurance doesn’t cover;
  • What your deductible is.

If you don’t feel confident understanding the policy language when making a claim, contact a property damage attorney.

Think About Flood Insurance

Did you know that flood damage isn’t covered in a standard homeowners insurance policy in Florida? Water damage and flood damage policies are different.

Many people are unaware and are left to pay out-of-pocket for flood damage. If you live in a hurricane-prone area like Florida, then this is an essential thing to think about.

  • Water damage policies cover damage caused by issues in the house, such as plumbing or burst pipes.
  • Flood insurance policies cover damage caused by external factors, such as natural disasters and floods.

Document All Your Belongings

Insurance adjusters will calculate how much damage you’ve suffered, from your home to your belongings. However, they get things wrong.

They need to know what you’ve lost. And ideally, with proof of the purchase price. You should make a list of your belongings and if possible, store all receipts in a safe location.

However, it’s often near impossible to do this after a hurricane. When the house looks upside, it can be hard to remember every missing or damaged item – let alone the price or specifics.

You should keep an up-to-date list of all your possessions, including:

  • Original price
  • Purchase date
  • Purchase location
  • Model number
  • Year of manufacture
  • Specific details that affect the value
  • Take photos

The more information you have about your belongings, the stronger your hurricane damage claim will be. With all this detail, your property damage lawyer can prove to an insurance company its mistakes if their settlement offer is too low.

Document the ‘Before’ Condition of Your Home

Sadly, insurance agents sometimes claim that property damage existed prior to the natural disaster.

To battle this when making your hurricane damage claim, you can show them photos of how it looked before.

To do this, take photos of your home (inside and outside) now. It will prove that your guttering, roofing, door frames, plumbing, windows, trees and other structural components are all in good condition and not to blame for hurricane damage.

Store Documentation in a Safe Place

Once you’ve done all the above, store it in a safe place. Ideally, make a digital copy and a hard copy.

The digital copy should be saved on a cloud storage space (or email it yourself).

The hard copy should be stored somewhere that isn’t vulnerable to external damage or water damage. Such as, in a cupboard high above the floor, in a safe or waterproof bag.

Take Documentation When Evacuating

When it’s time to evacuate from a hurricane, take the documents with you – if safe to do so. It is often hard to know when you’ll return and what condition the home will be in.

Taking the documents guarantees that they’ll be protected and available when it’s time to make a hurricane damage claim.

This is also a good time to mention that it’s wise to collect other important items, such as

  • Estate planning documents
  • Insurance policy documents
  • Vehicle titles and registration
  • Insurance documents
  • Medication
  • Irreplaceable sentimental belongings.

Read the U.S. government’s official advice page for tips on preparing for a hurricane.

View Florida hurricane forecast.

Are Your Contact Details Up to Date?

It may have been years since you signed up for your home insurance coverage. You might now have a new cell phone number or a new email address.

Ensure your contact details are up to date so that your insurance company can contact you easily after a hurricane. You should know what number to call to make a claim.

Know The Tricks of an Insurance Company

Knowing the secret tactics of insurance adjusters before you call them can help you avoid being manipulated into a low-ball offer or rejection.

Common tactics include:

  • Tricking you to admit fault
  • Delaying
  • False deadlines
  • Policy loophole claims
  • Requesting Unnecessary Documentation
  • Undervaluing Your Claim
  • Saying it’s forbidden to use an attorney
  • Being overly friendly
  • False promises
  • Slow and tiring negotiations

Read Related: Tips for Filing Insurance Claims for Hurricane Property Damage in Florida

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.

1 09, 2022

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.a. Is Tampa Bay’s Best of the Best 4-Time Winner

By |2022-09-01T19:07:52-04:00September 1st, 2022|Categories: Fire Damage Law, Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims, Tree Damage Law, Uncategorized, Water Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. has won Tampa Bay Times’ 2022 Best of the Best: People’s Choice Award. The firm has been recognized as the Best Law Firm and the Best Title Company.

This is the fourth year in a row that the firm has won as Tampa Bay’s Best of the Best.

The firm would like to thank the community members for their support. It is only due to the loyalty of their clients and staff that these awards are possible.

About Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is the oldest law firm in St. Petersburg. Established in 1958 by founding partner Anthony S. Battaglia, it has served clients for over 60 years. Many outstanding lawyers and judges call themselves alumni of the firm.

The firm’s lawyers are known for their exceptional work ethic and skills that produce successful outcomes. Their areas of practice include:

The firm has earned its outstanding reputation by putting their clients first. They have extensive trial experience and an impressive success record for many high-profile cases involving complex legal issues.

A Legacy of Excellence

For decades, U.S. News & World Reports has recognized Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. as one of the best law firms in America. They rank as a Tier 1 law firm in their category of Metropolitain law firms.

The firm has collectively won over 425 awards and accolades. The lawyers at the firm have earned some of the most esteemed awards available to lawyers, like:

  • Florida Trend Legal Elite
  • Florida Super Lawyers 2022
  • The Best Lawyers in America
  • Best of the Bay by Creative Loafing
  • Lawyers of Distinction

The People’s Choice Law Firm

Community members choose the People’s Choice Best of the Best Award. With over 135,000 votes, the award recognizes the top businesses and organizations in the area. Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is honored to be selected by the community for this award.

For more information about the firm, visit www.stpetelawgroup.com. Or, if you have any legal questions, call (727) 381-2300.

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.