If you are a resident or property owner in Southwest Florida (particularly in Lee County, Collier County, and Charlotte County), odds are fair that you’re dealing with some type of insurance claim due to destruction caused by Hurricane Ian. Although insurance companies can be frustrating to work with even under “normal” circumstances, keeping up with your claim can become 10 times more stressful in the wake of a natural disaster. One thing to bear in mind is that if the insurers do not respond to your claim in good faith, it may be possible to hold them accountable with a Florida bad-faith insurance claim.
As our longtime Fort Myers-based property damage attorneys can explain, Florida bad faith insurance laws were enacted to protect consumers from insurer practices that are unfair or fraudulent. Lawmakers understand the substantial power imbalance between consumers and insurers, as well as the outsized impact on “the little guy” when insurance companies don’t act in good faith. Such claims are separate from the underlying damage claim and are specifically for accountability when an insurance company acts with the intent to deceive, mislead, or fail to fulfill a contractual obligation.
That said, simply having a claim denied is not, in and of itself, bad faith insurance. Fort Myers bad faith insurance claims can be complex and require a great deal of evidence. If you’re struggling to get your insurer to accept accountability and pay a claim they should, it’s time to involve a property damage lawyer. We will work tirelessly on your behalf to convince the insurers to pay their fair share. And if they act in bad faith, we’ll be there to help you gather the necessary evidence to prove it in court.
Some points of contention that we’re already seeing bubble up in pending Florida property insurance and business interruption claims:
Was the damage from wind or flooding?
There has been some early industry speculation that much of the property damage reported in Lee, Charlotte, and Collier Counties won’t be covered by property insurance policies, thanks to the flood exclusion in a lot of these policies. Many Homeowners Insurance policies cover wind damage (specifically windstorm coverage), but flood insurance is typically sold separately and is most often run by FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program, although there are some insurers who write private flood coverage.
However, as our Fort Myers property damage lawyers can explain, the presumption of flooding as the cause of extensive damage is not an early stage assumption to which insurers should leap. Of course, it’s in the insurance company’s best interest to categorize it this way because then they’re more likely to be able to cite exclusions that they don’t have to pay. But the same thing happened in other named storms (thinking primarily of Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Ivan). Ultimately in those cases, it was determined the damage was actually partially – or sometimes fully – the result of wind-related damage. Continue reading