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Fire Insurance Claims Attorneys in Florida

Tough advocacy when Gulf Coast and Panhandle owners need to repair, rebuild, and restart

Fires destroy more than homes. They destroy the personal possessions. They destroy memories. Fires happen for all types of reasons, but whatever the reason, you need help now. You need to make sure everyone is healthy. You need a place to live. The last thing you should worry about is having to fight with your insurance company – the one that was all too happy to accept your premium payments.

At Warhurst Law, our Florida insurance dispute lawyers understand exactly what insurance companies should be doing to help you. We understand what tricks and strategies insurance companies use to try to deny or to reduce your claim. This understanding of insurance claims isn’t a bold assertion. It is based on the hands-on experience of Gene Warhurst who began his career as a professional insurance adjuster. He has used that direct experience to fight for insurance policyholders and their families for nearly 25 years. We’ll help you get the proceeds you need to salvage what can be saved and to move forward after a devastating fire. We have secured millions of dollars in original and supplement fire claims, including:

  • $1.79 million in additional funds for a church fire
  • $973,003 in additional funds for a church fire
  • $$483,019 in additional funds for a residential fire
  • $395,329 in additional funds for a residential fire

The initial steps in a fire insurance claim

Some of the many steps insurance adjusters should take include:

  • The initial inspection. The review will make an initial determination as to how the fire was started. An analysis should be made as to what items can be taken, whether the property should be boarded up, whether roofs should be covered, and other safety issues.
  • Living quarters. The owners of the home, the children, and other inhabitants will usually need an immediate place to sleep. The insurance policy should cover the cost to relocate until a decision can be made about whether the home is livable and whether it can be rebuilt. If repairs or rebuilding are possible, the occupants will still need to live somewhere until the work is done. If the home can’t be saved, arrangements need to be made to rent or buy a new residence.
  • Obtaining an advance. Fire victims often need to buy new clothes and necessities. The insurance companies should consider advancing sums, in accordance with the fire policy. Victims should work with experienced fire insurance claims lawyers to verify that the advance is just that – an advance, not a settlement.

Fire accident victims should keep records of all their living expenses and purchases after the fire. In addition to usually having to pay for a hotel, homeowners still need to pay the mortgage, taxes, and utilities. A good insurance policy should cover the living expenses and the continuing expenses.

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

Additional fire insurance claim issues

Every claim is different. A few issues common to most fire insurance claims are:

  • Fire insurance coverage differs depending on the type of home you own. If you own a single-family home, then the homeowner normally makes the decisions as to coverage and what’s needed after the fire. Owners of condominiums, duplexes, and other structures usually must work with other people to ensure their interests and to rebuild after a fire. Renters are generally only able to claim the value of their contents if they have renter’s insurance.
  • Contractors. If a home can be repaired or rebuilt, then, decisions need to be made about who should do the repair work or the rebuilding.
  • Fair negotiations. If insurance adjusters are not negotiating in good faith, then our Florida lawyers are ready to file a bad faith claim on your behalf.

If the policyholder is going to move to a new home, decisions need to be made about what to do with the home that was destroyed in the fire. For example, should the home be razed? Does the land have any value?

Policyholders should review with their attorney the need to continue paying insurance premiums to protect against any further damage.

Making a claim when the fire was a natural disaster

In 2018, natural disasters accounted for $225 billion worth of damage, but insurance companies only paid out $90 billion – about 40% of the total damages.

Typically, your insurance policy will cover fire regardless of whether it was caused by a faulty wire or a natural disaster. However, not every property owner will have enough insurance to cover losses from wildfires, or fires started from downed power lines after a hurricane; in truth, it is likely that you don’t have enough insurance.

What you should know about “hidden” damage

Fires often lead to hidden damage. For example, let us say that your kitchen catches fire, and it burns through two more rooms in your home. Even if the structural damage is limited to these few rooms, the smoke and ash can settle throughout the house, seeping into the insulation and the walls. This leaves you with potentially carcinogenic substances leaking into your home at any given time. Furthermore, any ash or embers that move through the home could cause potential damage to your air ducts, your wiring, and so forth – even in spaces far from the rooms that burned directly.

At the end of the day, what an insurance company deems a partial loss could, indeed, be a total loss. Warhurst Law can determine the full extent of your losses, and help you submit a new or supplemental claim for the entirety of those losses.


Fighting the insurance company’s attempt to deny or reduce coverage

Our team anticipates and defends against every effort by the insurance company to protect themselves instead of protecting you – their client. Some of the insurance company arguments and methods we prepare for include:

  • Claims that fire was started intentionally/ that it was an act of arson. Usually, there will be an investigation to determine the cause. Our Florida lawyers and investigators work to confirm that the fire was accidental and not intentional.
  • Questions over coverage. Fire insurance should also protect related damages such as smoke and water damage, but some insurers will try to claim that some damage isn’t covered by the policy you have.
  • Repairing v. rebuilding. We work with professionals who evaluate the structural integrity of your home and other safety issues. We work with engineers, homebuilders, building code inspectors, and others to examine every part of the home so you can know if repairing the home is possible or whether you’ll need to rebuild it from scratch.
  • Disagreements over home and property values. Some of the key value considerations include whether you are entitled to replacement value or fair market value. The cost to buy a comparable home, sofa, article of jewelry or any damaged item is almost always more than its fair market value.
  • How the contents are verified. Insurance adjusters will try to argue that you can’t verify the contents of  your home and thus shouldn’t be paid for them.

At Warhurst Law, our lawyers understand how devastating fires can be. In just a small amount of time, your home or your business can be completely destroyed. In many cases, the only option is to rebuild. Repairs are often costly. We work with fire safety professionals, building engineers, contractors, and appraisers to fully detail whether you can rebuild or whether you need to start over. We demand insurance companies pay you everything you bargained for in your insurance contract.

Call today to speak with a Florida insurance dispute attorney about your fire losses

Warhurst Law represents policyholders in disputes involving fire losses. To review your claim and concerns, call 251-694-1932 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We fight for homeowners and businesses throughout the Florida Panhandle and Gulf Coast including Panama City, Apalachicola, Pensacola, and Port St. Joe.

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