Insurance Practice

Legal Services for Property Insurance Claims

Hurricane Damage

hurricane

Hurricanes are a fact of life in Florida. Living in our tropical paradise means that we must always be prepared for the next one. Hurricanes and/or tropical storms cause widespread damage to Florida nearly every year. Navigating your way through a claim denial or claim underpayment can be disheartening in a post-catastrophe setting.

Bennett Legal provides guidance and strength to its clients both in the presentation of new claims and obtaining positive resolutions for already filed claims.

Most insurance companies view an unrepresented property owner as an easy target for estimate manipulation or outright wrongful denial. Larger hurricanes can produce hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of legitimate claims. Bennett Legal prides itself on changing the insurance companies' perception of our clients from just being another number to a policyholder deserving of payment.

Fire Damage

Fire Damage

Fire losses can be devastating. Indeed, most insurance company claims adjusters often describe a fire as being the most difficult claim they have to assist a homeowner through. Possessions and memories are often totally destroyed and erased. Bennett Legal's experience has been that most claims adjusters truly want to assist policyholders affected by fire to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, dealing with fire loss, aside from being devastating, can also be one of the most complex claims to present and get fully paid. It is critical to have the right assistance in identifying both how a building should be repaired, if it should be repaired, and capturing all of the available policy overages for damaged possessions, increased expenses, and professional assistance. Bennett Legal has seen many policyholders through disputes involving fire losses.

Water & Mold

Water and mold

Claims for water and mold damage often start small. Many plumbing losses if caught immediately will not balloon into situations requiring rooms to be demolished or slabs to be broken through. However, water leaks can be subtle and deceiving. Often times, homeowners do not realize a leak has occurred or that mold has formed until some time has passed. By that point, damage has become widespread and easy fix options are out of the question. Bennett Legal has helped many homeowners deal with claims resulting in water and mold damage to cabinetry, walls, flooring, and personal possessions.

Losses of this type typically occur because of broken drain and supply lines, failed shower pans, exploding water heaters, and broken toilet seals have allowed water to leave the plumbing system. Insurance companies have begun to heavily combat claims for water and mold damage associated with plumbing loss. These companies many times impose reduced coverage limits for damage associated with this loss type and attempt to develop defenses to coverage from the moment a claim is filed.

Understanding how to confront hygienists, leak detection companies, and forensic engineers is important for any policyholder hoping to recover for a water damage loss. Bennett Legal is ready to provide you the understanding and representation necessary to bring your claim to its proper resolution.

Hail Damage

Hail

Hail storms come quickly and often without advanced warning. The damage they cause can be widespread or to isolated areas. Insurance companies invest heavily in meteorological and engineering experts to develop methodologies to dismiss and deny valid claims for hail damage to roofs, personal property and interior finishes.

In pursuing a claim for hail damage it is important to have an advocate that can incorporate both an analytical approach to damage identification and proper implementation of available technological resources to support your claim of damage and prove it to the eventual fact finder, be it the judge or jury. Bennett Legal has assisted many clients in the battle to obtain coverage for loss of their roof, siding, paint, windows, and interior damages resulting from ensuing water intrusion.

Sinkhole Damage

Sink Hole

Sinkhole Loss claims are possible anywhere in Florida. Sinkhole loss causes significant movement to the foundation of the home often resulting in cracking to exterior block walls, interior separations between ceilings and walls and cracking to floor tiles and moisture intrusion through cracking damage to the slab.

Attorney Bennett has handled hundreds of claims for sinkhole loss and has provided stable guidance to property owners from the claim and litigation process through stabilization and building repair. If you have a sinking feeling that your sinkhole claim has gotten away from you or, otherwise, that your insurance company is not giving your concerns regarding cracking damage to your home the proper consideration it deserves, please contact us for a no-cost consultation.

Property Claims

Property Claims

Property insurance policies typically cover all risks, unless otherwise excluded and/or excepted from coverage. Bennett Legal has handled claims involving:

  • Additional Living Expenses
  • Blasting
  • Building Collapse
  • Business Interruption
  • Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse
  • Earth Movement
  • Electrical Surge
  • Fallen Tree
  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Foundation Movement
  • Freight & Cargo Loss
  • Hail
  • Hurricane
  • HVAC Failure
  • Lightning
  • Mold
  • Personal Property Theft
  • Pipe Break
  • Plumbing Leak
  • Pool Pop
  • Retaining Wall Failure
  • Roof Leak
  • Seawall Failure
  • Sewage Backup
  • Sinkhole
  • Storm Surge
  • Structural Damage
  • Tree Roots
  • Vandalism
  • Vehicle Impact to Buildings
  • Vehicle Theft
  • Vibration Damage
  • Water Damage
  • Wind Damage

Results

Hurricane Claim - $45,000.00

Our client’s home in Riverview, Florida was severely damaged by hurricane winds and rain. The insurance company took the position that the damages to the roof were less than the policy deductible and refused to pay for interior damages. Our firm initiated a lawsuit against the insurance company who maintained its position that no further payment was due. With a hurricane insurance attorney, the claim and lawsuits were successfully resolved for the client.

Sinkhole Claim - $510,000.00

Our client filed a sinkhole claim with his insurance company, who investigated the damages and denied the claim. Attorney Bennett filed a lawsuit against the insurance company for wrongful denial. The lawsuit and claims were resolved for payments totaling $510,000.00.

Fire Claim - $310,000.00

Our client filed a claim for fire damage and was paid just over $113,000.00. They retained Attorney Bennett and, after a thorough re-evaluation of the damages and overlooked code upgrades and personal contents, Attorney Bennett was able to assist the clients in obtaining a total claim recovery of $310,000.00.

Vehicle Theft - $93,000.00

After filing a claim for theft of their semi-truck, the insurance company requested that our clients appear for examinations under oath. Our clients retained Attorney Bennett to get through the examination under oath process and to assist with document production requests. After the examinations were concluded, the claim was resolved for payment totaling $93,000.00.

Vehicle Impact - $243,000.00

Our client filed a claim after a vehicle involved in an accident on the roadway crashed into our client's kitchen and living room. The insurance company made initial payments of just over $30,000.00. Attorney Bennett identified several overlooked areas of coverage and filed a lawsuit on behalf of our clients. Ultimately, our clients were able to obtain benefits from the homeowners insurance company and the respective auto insurance companies totaling just over $243,000.00.

Damage to Cargo Freight - $471,000.00

Our client endeavored to ship a large scale printing press internationally. In transit, the printing press fell from its transport and was effectively totaled. A dispute between the insurance company for the shipper and our clients arose as to the value of the damaged printer. After consultation with experts in the field and negotiations with the insurance company, Attorney Bennett was able to amicably resolve their claim for $471,000.00.

FLORIDA RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY MEDIATION Florida Statute s. 627.7015

The Florida Legislature created the Residential Property Mediation program in an effort to give policyholders an informal way to resolve claims disputes with their insurance company without the need for filing a lawsuit. In mediation, a neutral third party acts to encourage and assist the parties to resolve a dispute without taking sides or bringing party bias to the dispute.

At mediation, an insurance company must provide a representative with full authority to settle the claim at the conference. The conference will be conducted at a location near the policyholder residence and the insured and the insurer shall attend the mediation conference.

The parties attending will have full knowledge of the facts of the dispute and be fully authorized to make an agreement to completely resolve the claim. If an insurer representative does not have full authority to settle the full value of the claim, they are deemed to have failed to appear. Full authority also includes the ability to disburse the full settlement amount within 10 days of the conclusion of the conference.

If the insurance company fails to appear, without good cause, they must pay actual cash expenses of the policyholder in attending a rescheduled conference and must pay the mediator’s fees for each conference appearance.

Mediation is non-binding and can serve as a good opportunity to evaluate the merits of a policyholder's dispute without the threat of a negative jury decision. As it is non-binding, neither the policyholder nor the insurance company is legally obligated to accept the outcome; however, the cost of the mediation is paid by the insurance company and settlements reached at the conference can be rescinded within three days of the agreement as long as the check has not been cashed.

To be eligible for residential property mediation there must be a dispute between the policyholder and the insurer or a denial of the claim in an amount in excess of $500.00. All property insurance claims (hurricane and non-hurricane) are eligible for mediation unless a fraud complaint has been filed against the insured or if there is agreement between the parties that a non-covered peril is the cause of the loss. So, even if there is a dispute concerning the cause of loss, it is eligible for mediation.

While some policyholders elect to take on their mediation alone, most of those end up in an impasse or, worse, with a policyholder executing a release of their claim for significantly less than should have been paid under their policy. Once such a release is executed, a policyholder can be left with not recourse to seek additional amounts when the settlement funds run out.

We have assisted countless policyholders both through and following the residential property insurance mediation process. If you are considering participating in residential property mediation, Bennett Legal is here to help and submit a request on your behalf that will be taken seriously by the insurance company. So that we may evaluate your loss and submit a request to the Florida Department of Financial Services on your behalf, please provide the following information in the message field below:

Please be prepared to provide the following information when contacting us:

  1. The name of your insurance company.
  2. Type of loss, including whether the loss is related to hurricane, fire, sinkhole, hail, plumbing leak, mold, pool pop, personal property, theft, vandalism, other.
  3. Your policy number.
  4. Your claim number.
  5. The address of the insured property.
  6. Whether the dispute is over a) unsatisfactory settlement offer, b) cause of loss, c) scope of repairs, or d) scope of damages.
  7. The county where the insured property is located.
  8. The full name of all persons appearing as named insureds on the insurance policy.