Best Practices for Florida Homeowners with Water Damage
Updated: Jul 14
Homeowners in Florida are often confused over what to do after a water leak causes property damage to their house or condominium unit. Causes of water leaks can vary, but the steps to take after broken pipe(s), mold presence, or a roof leak are similar. Of course, if property damage insurance is available to cover losses relating the water damage, it is wise to file an insurance claim. That said, policyholders should be prepared for a fight with their insurance companies, which frequently deny and underpay valid claims. The goal of this article is to explain some of the best ways for people to support their insurance claim and maximize compensation after suffering covered damage to their home. Policyholders work hard to pay their premiums, and insurers should not break their promises to cover legitimate claims. This article should help insureds understand their rights and the obligations of their insurers.
After determining that everyone in the home is safe, some of the first things a property owner should do is to: (1) determine the source of the intrusion to stop the flow of water; and (2) document the incident and their damages. In the adrenaline-fueled heat of the moment, people may forget to take pictures or video of an active water leak, water stains, mold, and related damaged property. These pictures and videos can serve as valuable evidence in support of your claim. Homeowners should also remember to take an inventory of any valuable personal property ruined by the occurrence. For those who live in condominiums, it is also advisable to immediately report the water leak to the condominium association or the condominium’s management company, as they are likely in a better position to locate the source of the water leak and stop it due to their access to other units and the common elements of the building.
Once the scene is secure and the damage is documented, the claim should be reported to the homeowner’s insurer. Many homeowners try to go through the claims process themselves, but not having legal counsel look out for their interests may hurt their chances at recovery. Insurance companies will typically try to undervalue damages or argue that losses were caused by excluded factors to avoid paying out valid claims. To achieve their goal of finding a basis to deny a claim, the opposing insurance adjuster may twist and mischaracterize statements or fail to appropriately identify and measure damages, like broken roof tiles, warped cabinetry, ruined floors, or moldy walls, which may require full replacement. As a result, homeowners in Florida are best served by hiring an experienced insurance lawyer, like Daniel Smith of the Salomon Smith law firm, to help them pursue their claims.
Indeed, not only can attorneys perform the same services as public adjusters (like investigate and estimate losses), but can also file a lawsuit and advance a claim through the court, arbitration, or umpire process if it cannot be resolved early. The use of litigation is a valuable tool available to policyholders because, among other things, Florida law provides that attorney’s fees and costs incurred for wrongfully denied and underpaid insurance claims must be paid by the insurer pursuant to Florida Statute 627.428. Therefore, an experienced Florida insurance lawyer, like Daniel Smith of the Salomon Smith law firm, can handle your case at no cost to the homeowner unless there is a successful recovery.
Recently, lawmakers in Florida passed a new set of rules for claimants, so it is more important than ever to retain legal counsel with the ability to learn and adapt to these changes. Practically speaking, it is unknown how courts in Florida will interpret many portions of the new statute and a federal judge has already blocked parts of the law limiting the advertising of roofers, with a trial set for spring 2022.
In short, Floridians with covered insurance damage should use the tools at their disposal to get paid for their claims. Good cases still need evidence and attorneys to push them forward through the inevitable defenses that will be asserted by the insurance company. Be ready.
The attorneys at Salomon Smith are Florida homeowners with decades of collective legal experience litigating in South Florida. We want to hear from you to help you navigate this complicated area and get you paid for damage to your house, apartment, or business. After all, you paid good money for your premiums and deserve compensation for a legitimate claim. Remember, time is of the essence to preserve your claim! Contact attorney Daniel Smith directly at 305-297-1018 or firstname.lastname@example.org to understand your insurance policy and available coverage, discuss your options, and answer your questions.