Florida Property Insurance Claims: The Duty to Cooperate
The vast majority of property insurance policies contain a cooperation clause. Essentially, this provision will detail your contractual and legal obligations to cooperate with any investigation into your claim that is being conducted by the insurance company. Policyholders must take the time to understand their respective policy’s cooperation clause. Further, it is critically important that you comply with the reasonable requests of the insurance company. If you file a claim, and then fail to cooperate, your settlement offer may be delayed or your coverage may be outright denied.
Be Prepared: Three Things to Do After Sustaining Property Damage
Cooperating with the investigation of the insurance company is far easier if you take proactive steps to document your losses immediately after the initial event. You may receive a proof of loss request from the insurance company, and if you have thoroughly documented your damages, you will be able to comply with this request in a timely manner. The following is a list of three things that we suggest every property owner do after sustaining significant damage:
- Take photographs: Pictures provide compelling evidence. You need to take action to secure this evidence. Damaged property is often quickly cleaned up or repaired. If you fail to act, you will likely lose out on your chance to get photos of the damage.
- Obtain all of the receipts and records that you can: Receipts and financial records will go a long way towards helping you support your claim of losses. If you have access to any documents or records, get them organized. However, in some cases, your receipts may be long gone. This is normal; there is no need to stress out too much, as this does not mean you are out of luck.
- Prepare an itemized list the things that were damaged: Finally, you will be able to submit your claimed damages in a statement under oath. This, by itself, is valuable evidence. Please do what you can to prepare a comprehensive list of all of your damaged items as soon as possible after the initial incident.
Bad Faith Claims: The Duty to Cooperate Has its Limits
While policyholders must cooperate with the investigation, the insurance company also must follow through with its legal and contractual duties. Specifically, insurers must always act fairly and reasonably to the insured. This means that the insurance company is legally prohibited from making any bad faith or unreasonable requests from the property owner. Under the Florida Insurance Code, insurers that engage in bad faith practices can be held liable for the full value of the underlying claim and substantial additional damages. If you believe that your insurance company is making unreasonable requests from you in the investigative stage of your claim, you should consult with an experienced Fort Lauderdale bad faith insurance attorney immediately. Your attorney can review your case and help you assess your legal options.
Do You Need Property Insurance Claim Assistance?
At Geyer Fuxa Tyler, our property insurance dispute attorneys have helped many policyholders obtain full and fair settlement offers. If your claim has been denied, or if you feel you have been mistreated by the company, please do not hesitate to reach out to us today. We represent businesses and homeowners throughout Broward County and we are looking forward to hearing from you.