Are Pain and Suffering or Emotional Distress Recoverable in a Property Insurance Claim?
Chances are that if you are reading this, you have had an insurance claim denied or underpaid, are angry, and looking for answers. This is understandable considering, like most responsible home and business owners, you have paid your insurance premiums just in case something happened. You may be angry that the insurance company failed to pay for fire damage to your business, water damage to your home, or other repair expenses.
This is understandable. Insurance companies sometimes deny or underpay claims that are perfectly legitimate. Doing so causes unnecessary stress and frustration. You just went through what seems to be an overly invasive and lengthy process, jumped through all sorts of hoops, were drained financially and emotionally, and ended up with nothing from the insurance company. As a result, many times one of the first questions we get is, “can I get paid for my emotional distress or pain and suffering?”
At this time, it is important to know that your insurance policy is a contract. In a breach of contract action, you are only entitled to what you would have received under the contract, or insurance policy. Most property insurance policies do not pay benefits for emotional distress or pain and suffering. They mostly just pay to repair the damaged property. Property insurance contract cases are not like personal injury cases in which other damages, like loss of consortium and pain and suffering, may be recoverable. In short, you cannot really punish your insurance company in a breach of contract action for its behavior, delays, and unfair denial, nor can you recover for having been put through that.
However, if you put in the required work with your attorney and are successful in establishing that the insurance company improperly denied or underpaid your claim, you may be able to seek consequential and punitive damages in a separate bad faith lawsuit, pursuant to Florida Statute 624.155. This will be a subsequent lawsuit that can typically be brought after you prevail in court or in appraisal, so long as the insurance company failed to timely and adequately cure the allegations made in a Civil Remedy Notice.
It is important to keep in mind that pursuing any litigation must be done so with a clear head, and business-like mind-set. An insurance claim is not a winning lottery ticket, and you must always look at any settlement negotiations from an objective standpoint. It is important to ask yourself questions like:
- What is it I am entitled to?
- How much do I really need to place my home/business as it was?
- How much is my time/stress worth?
Your attorneys will be there to provide you guidance and help you weigh your options. If you have any questions regarding any possible first party actions, or bad faith lawsuits, please contact us at Geyer Fuxa Tyler. We will be more than happy to answer your questions, and guide you through the process.