Property Insurance Claims: Should I Sign the Release Form?
You should review, in extensive detail, any important document before signing. While this is always a smart practice, it is even more critical when it comes to property insurance claims. Florida courts have a strong presumption in favor of enforcing the terms of a signed document. This is true even if the policyholder did not fully understand what they were signing. There are very few exceptions to this rule. Remember, a property damage release form should be thought of as contract. If you have any questions about signing a release form, or Florida property insurance claims in general, please contact an experienced Broward County attorney for immediate legal help.
What is a Release of Claims?
Before you get a settlement check from your property insurance company, you may be asked to sign a “release of claims” form. In the majority of cases, signing this form will essentially mean that your claim has been finalized. You are agreeing to release the company from any further liability related to this specific claim in exchange for your settlement check. If you are receiving a full and fair settlement offer, signing the release may not matter. In that case, you have successfully resolved your claim. However, if you are not receiving a fair offer, you may be prematurely forcing an end to the claims process. You may be entitled to a better settlement than you are currently being offered. While it is a great feeling to reach a settlement because it allows you to move forward with your life, you must take care in reviewing anything that you sign. It is very important to remember that you are not required to sign a release to receive properly owed benefits under an insurance policy.
Is My Settlement Offer Fair?
Determining whether a property damage settlement offer is fair depends on the facts of each specific case. However, all homeowners should keep in mind their rights under Florida law. If the insurance company violated your rights, there is reason to believe that your settlement offer might be too low. You can also take some actions to help ensure that you are receiving a fair settlement offer. Specifically, you should:
- Review and fully understand the terms of your policy;
- Document all conversations with the insurance company;
- Keep records of all repair related expenses;
- Take photographs of your property damage;
- Obtain an appraisal from a qualified neutral party;
- Get a second damage estimate if needed; and
- Be prepared to contact an attorney.
Ultimately, you should always be cautious when signing a release form. Before signing any legally operative agreement like an insurance claim release form, it is best to have a competent attorney review it for any hidden traps.
Need Legal Advice?
At Geyer Fuxa Tyler, our experienced property insurance dispute attorneys are standing by, ready to help. If you are involved in a dispute with your insurance company, please do not hesitate to contact our office today at (954) 990-5251 to schedule a free initial consultation. Our team proudly serves clients throughout Florida, including in the Fort Lauderdale area.