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Insurance Dispute Attorneys in Florida

Strong representation for policyholders in the Gulf Coast, the Panhandle, and surrounding areas

Experience matters. At the top of the list of what matters when negotiating and litigating insurance disputes is understanding the mindset of insurance claims adjusters, and understanding the arguments they make. That is why Florida policyholders call Warhurst Law when their claims have been delayed or denied. Since 1995, Gene Warhurst and his team have been protecting homeowners, business owners, and non-profit organizations from unscrupulous insurance policies. If you have suffered a loss, call the law firm other lawyers call for help.

Insurance basics: what kind of insurance policy do you have?

The insurance policy you have will determine the type of claim you can make. Generally speaking, there are two “main” types of insurance policies for structural damage for residential properties:

  • All-risk (also called all peril) insurance. This policy type covers every type of damage and natural disaster unless it is specifically excluded.
  • Named peril insurance. This covers only risks that are specifically named. It is generally the less expensive policy, but it doesn’t give you as much coverage.

Every policy will have some kind of deductible – the costs you pay before the insurance company honors your claim. In Florida, many policies have hurricane deductibles, which forces insureds to pay more for hurricane damage (or other named storms). Some policyholders will purchase additional insurance, such as Wind & Hail, to help offset these deductibles, but that adds to the overall cost of the plan.

Commercial properties, non-profits, and churches have additional considerations. On top of these policies, they also need to protect their businesses. Aside from general liability, commercial and non-profit policyholders should have coverage for:

  • Business interruption
  • Ingress/egress
  • Loss of inventory
  • Equipment failure
  • Loss of technology (including software and hardware systems)
  • Destruction of property

Aggressive representation of Florida policyholders after a loss

Every homeowner, business owner, and non-profit in Florida needs to plan for the worst. The best starting point is the insurance policy, but that doesn’t mean that the insurance company will treat you fairly. Warhurst Law has years of experience helping Florida policyholders with their claims after a natural or man-made disaster strikes. Call us if your claim has been denied or delayed after a:

Our Case Results

$11 Million Hurricane
Hurricane Katrina property damage of New Orleans apartment complex settled pre-suit.

Katrina Settlement

$2.4 Million Settlement in Commercial Tornado Claim
Warhurst Law secured $2.2 million in additional recovery for a lumber mill damaged in a tornado.

Tornado Claim

$2.226 Million Fire Loss Settlement
Warhurst Law secured more than $2.226 million in additional recovery for a Baptist Church

Fire Loss Settlement

$1.3 Million Car Crash Settlement
Client was in a car accident resulting in severe brain damage.

Car Crash Settlement

$26 Million Hurricane Katrina Settlement
Hurricane Katrina loss of New Orleans Apartment complex previously offered $3 million.

Katrina Settlement

Florida’s supplemental claims rule

Typically, a property owner has one year to file an insurance claim. But Florida has a special rule for claims that are denied. Basically, if you submit your claim and the insurance companies denies it, you can actually file a breach of contract lawsuit against the insurance company – and the statute of limitations on that is 5 years from the date of the loss.

Florida also allows you to reopen claims if you have additional damage. You get an additional 3 years for a supplemental claim for losses during windstorms and/or hurricanes:

627.70132 Notice of windstorm or hurricane claim.—A claim, supplemental claim, or reopened claim under an insurance policy that provides property insurance, as defined in s.624.604, for loss or damage caused by the peril of windstorm or hurricane is barred unless notice of the claim, supplemental claim, or reopened claim was given to the insurer in accordance with the terms of the policy within 3 years after the hurricane first made landfall or the windstorm caused the covered damage. For purposes of this section, the term “supplemental claim” or “reopened claim” means any additional claim for recovery from the insurer for losses from the same hurricane or windstorm which the insurer has previously adjusted pursuant to the initial claim. This section does not affect any applicable limitation on civil actions provided in s. 95.11 for claims, supplemental claims, or reopened claims timely filed under this section.

If you were already paid out for your claim, but you have additional damages, you may be eligible for a larger compensation package. Warhurst Law has been very successful in obtaining additional compensation under Florida’s laws for supplemental claims, often securing millions of dollars for businesses and churches, and hundreds of thousands for individuals and residential claims.

About Hurricane Michael

Hurricane Michael was the most recent natural disaster in Florida, striking the Florida Panhandle in October 2018. Michael was a Category 5 hurricane – the first to hit the contiguous US states since Hurricane Andrew. Nearly 60 Americans were killed. The economic damages were record-breaking.

Claimants may still have time to file claims with the insurance companies. Our skilled insurance dispute lawyers are ready to help verify your right to file a claim and to help you properly document and claim all your damages.

Who we represent

Protecting against damage to homes and the contents isn’t just for single-family homeowners. The following types of owners should also consider protections for their residences:

We also represent vehicle owners whose cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and other vehicles have been damaged by storms, by other drivers, or for other reasons.

Business interruption claims

When property damage occurs, homeowners mainly need an alternative place to live and sleep until they either move or until the repairs are made. Business owners have much more to consider. When fires, floods, hurricanes, and other events cause property damage, the business usually needs to suspend operations – in whole or in part. Some businesses may be able to survive being shut down for a day or two, maybe a week. Most can’t survive being shut down for a month or longer.

All businesses should buy business interruption insurance to protect against negligence, intentional wrongs, and natural disasters. This type of business insurance should include many things including:

  • Lost income
  • The cost to bring the business online if needed
  • The cost to inform customers, clients, and vendors that the business will be down and to take steps to keep the customers during the interruption

Business interruption insurance is usually purchased in addition to the property insurance policy. The property insurance disputes need to be resolved concurrent with the business interruption disputes.

Common questions about insurance claims in Florida

In addition to coverage issues, insurance disputes often center around the amount of damages that should be paid. Some of the questions you should ask your agent include:

  • Are you entitled to the loss of value of your home?
  • Are you entitled to whatever it costs to repair your home so it’s structurally and aesthetically the same as it was before the disaster?
  • Will the insurance company pay for your stay in a hotel or other residence while the repairs take place?
  • Who has the right to choose the repair-people?
  • If a man-made event destroyed your property, is that covered?
  • If a natural disaster destroyed your property, is that covered?
  • Are you entitled to contents losses (the damage to your furniture, clothes, computers, etc.)?
  • What happens if the damage to your home was due to damage to another person’s home (i.e., a leaking pipe in the condo next door)?

Policy exclusions

A common defense that insurance companies will raise is - Do any exclusions apply? Some common exclusions are:

  • The loss is covered in a different policy
  • The loss wasn’t due to an accident
  • The policyholder could have controlled/limited the loss
  • The loss is due to general wear and tear

The policy should be reviewed by experienced insurance lawyers so it’s clear what emergencies the policy covers. In some cases, the policy should be amended or updated – or a different policy may be needed.

The role of public adjusters

Florida allows claims adjusters to become licensed public adjusters. In theory, these people act as agents for policyholders. They negotiate on behalf of the insured in return for a fee or a percentage of the recovery.

As a general rule, it is much more advisable for policyholders to seek the advice of legal counsel. Gene Warhurst is a former claims adjuster, which means he is aware of the “tips and tricks” that insurance companies use in order to lowball your claim.

Fighting bad faith negotiation tactics on behalf of Florida’s insureds

Florida insurance claims are governed by the Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act, which is aimed at protecting policyholders from bad faith claims. Generally, insurance companies must negotiate in good faith. If the insurance company fails to negotiate fairly, our Florida insurance dispute attorneys demand that they be held liable for everything the policy owner should have been paid under the policy. Additionally, insurance companies can be held liable for all damages – even if they exceed the policy limits. They may also be held liable for legal fees and interests.

Examples of bad faith negotiation include:

  • Stalling and delaying the investigation of the claim and the review of damages
  • Denying a claim without legal or factual support
  • Not valuing the property and home damage according to acceptable standards – or giving offers they know are low
  • Threatening prosecution that is unwarranted – such as claiming arson when they know the fire was an accident
  • Making misleading statements
  • Telling you that you don’t need an attorney

Some insurance companies try to force property owners to sign a full release before every part of the claim is resolved. Do not sign anything until you have spoken to a lawyer.

Why Warhurst Law is the right option for a Florida insurance dispute

Claims adjusters negotiate the right to claims and the value of the claims. They’re trained to argue for the lowest settlements possible.

Gene Warhurst is a former claims adjuster who understands how critical it is to investigate and document your damages. In addition to his strong legal reputation, earned through nearly 25 years representing clients, he has obtained numerous certifications of insurance including the highly regarded designation of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter.

At Warhurst Law, our attorneys understand the stalling tactics and arguments adjusters make to deny claims and minimize your damages. We know how to verify your damages and how to look for the hidden damages that can be a nightmare to address. We negotiate and litigate bad faith insurance claims when insurance companies won’t negotiate with you fairly and try to delay settlements to force you to take less.

Our legal team is fully adept at using Xactimate, a software that insurance adjusters use to estimate and value insurance claims. The software allows for 3D representations of damage and structures among other features. We understand and contest efforts by adjusters to use this software to low-ball your damage claim.

Mostly, our insurance dispute lawyers understand how hurricanes, storms, fires, and other disasters can change your life and business. We fight to get you back on your feet – for the long-term.

Contact an experienced Florida insurance dispute lawyer

When disaster strikes your home or your business, you need Warhurst Law. If your claim has been denied or delayed, or if you need to open up a supplemental insurance claim for your home, business, church, non-profit, or commercial property, call 251-694-1932 or fill out our contact form. We represent clients in Panama City, Apalachicola, Destin, Pensacola, Port St. Joe, and throughout the Florida Panhandle.

* Warhurst Law cannot and does not guarantee an outcome to any case.

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