Property Insurance Disputes: Matching
Imagine that big storm comes rolling through your property, causing considerable damage to your roof or the siding on your home. While the storm did not cause a total loss, the damage is substantial, and you will need to make a property insurance claim to obtain fair compensation for your losses. This leads to an important question: Exactly how much needs to be repaired or replaced?
This may sound like a simple question, but in many cases, it becomes fiercely disputed. One of the main reasons is the concept of ‘matching’, particularly the obligations of the insurance company to provide an identical or near-identical replacement materials for your property damage. Here, our experienced Fort Lauderdale property insurance lawyers discuss some important things you need to know about matching damage claims and disputes.
Look to the Policy Language
As with all property insurance claims, the first thing that a property owner needs to do is to review the specific language of his or her own policy. Ultimately, insurance policies are legal contracts. This means that the policy language will control much of the dispute. On the issue of matching, most insurance policies contain language that says something like this:
“We will provide coverage to pay the cost of repair or replacement with similar construction and materials”
Put another way, most insurance policies highlight that they will replace damaged property with similar, but not necessarily identical, materials. For example, if 15 percent of your roof is damaged, your insurer will find similar material to replace that portion of the roof, though it may not be exactly identical.
Why ‘Matching’ Leads to Disputes
The term similar is relatively broad and loosely defined. Indeed, similar material and construction could mean a lot of different things depending on the specific circumstances of a case. Ultimately, this is where many matching property insurance claims end up in dispute. The insurer will sometimes make a case that a certain repair or replacement is sufficiently similar, and therefore that they fulfilled their obligations under the policy, whereas the property owner will counter that repaired or replaced property simply does not match. Therefore, it must be fixed or a full replacement must occur to satisfy the obligations of the policy.
Florida Requires Reasonable Matching
Under Florida’s insurance regulations, property insurance companies are required to make efforts to ensure that any replaced items (siding, roofing, flooring) match. Of course, this is not always possible, as sometimes materials are no longer on the market or become prohibitively expensive. When reasonable matching is not possible, insurance companies are legally required to pay the costs to replace the entire section of the structure, including previously undamaged parts, so that it has a reasonably uniform appearance.
Get Property Insurance Dispute Help in Broward County, FL
At Geyer Fuxa Tyler, our dedicated insurance lawyers have considerable experience handling a wide variety of different types of property damage claims. For immediate legal assistance, please call us today at (954) 990-5251 to set up your free case evaluation. We represent homeowners throughout Broward County, including in Sunrise, Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood.