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Navigating the Florida Insurance Claim Lifecycle: A Guide for Board Members

claimsIn today’s blog, we’re going to delve into a crucial topic that affects many board members of community associations – navigating the Florida insurance claim lifecycle. If you’re a board member, you know that dealing with property damage claims can be complex and challenging. That’s why we’re here to guide you through the process and offer valuable insights to ensure you get the best outcome for your community.

Understanding the Insurance Claim Lifecycle

To kick things off, let’s break down the Florida insurance claim lifecycle. Understanding each
step in the process is vital for board members because they are all key to a successful outcome.

  1. Initial Damage Assessment

    It all begins with the initial damage assessment. When your property sustains damage, whether from a natural disaster or other unforeseen events, the first crucial step is evaluating the extent of the damage. Document everything – take photos, videos, gather evidence—and consult with experts. Attorneys, like ourselves, partner with excellent engineers and specialists who conduct thorough inspections of the building and damages to determine the cause and repairability. This information coupled with your documented evidence helps prove the necessary facts for coverage under your policy.Time is also of the essence when it comes to assessing the damage. Your insurance policy requires that you give the carrier prompt notice of the claim, but to give notice you have to understand what damage you are giving notice of. This is why working with an attorney and experts is helpful—We put together the necessary information in an efficient timeframe.
  2. Understanding Your Policy Coverage

    While your experts are gathering factual evidence, it’s your responsibility to understand your insurance policy coverage. Not all policies are created equal, and knowing the ins and outs of your coverage is crucial. We have had condo clients come to us to represent them in insurance claims under a policy with limits and coverages that are less than half of what a building their size needed for coverage. And at that point, they are out of luck.Ideally, you would contact an attorney before any damage occurs so you understand if you have adequate coverage. Many association members consult with their insurance agents or brokers, but we would say that agents are not experts in what goes wrong, insurance claim attorneys are. We’re in a better spot to review your policy and consult you on potential pitfalls or gaps in coverage based on problems we’ve handled in the past. Our firm, Premier Property Law, reviews policies for associations and board members to explain coverages.Once damage has occurred, while the experts document the damages and determine the cause of said damages, our firm reviews the policy with the board to determine what could be covered and explain the strategy for the claim.
  3. Filing the Claim

    Once we have a clear understanding of the extent of damage, cause of damage, and what is covered by your policy, it’s time to file the claim. This involves submitting a detailed report to your insurance company. This is why having an attorney by your side is advantageous – we ensure that the claim is reported comprehensively, without including information to damage your claim. Sometimes claims are flat out denied because information or evidence was included that doesn’t apply to the policy—which obviously you can’t claim damage under a policy that doesn’t cover it. It’s not normally fatal, but it does slow the claims process down.
  4. Working with Adjusters

    Once the claim is reported, the carrier begins their investigation of the damage to determine what they owe you under the policy agreement. This begins with sending an adjuster to the property to do an inspection and to review the information you provided upon filing the claim. Again, if you have already consulted with your attorneys, your claim filing and comprehensive documents provided to the carrier will help move this process forward.After the inspection, the adjuster considers their findings and then reports to the carrier. As the attorney for the property owner, we would collaborate with the adjuster to make sure they have the information necessary to provide their findings to the carrier. Some adjusters have authority to decide whether certain damage is covered; other adjusters simply provide information and the decision is left to a superior. Whatever the case, our firm Premier Property Law has systems and processes in place to be the “squeaky wheel” that gets the grease, to constantly communicate with the adjuster on the status of the claim.
  5. Handling Disputes

    Once the carrier makes a decision about whether they will cover the claim, and if they will cover it how much they will pay, it is inevitable that disagreements will arise as to coverage or the amount paid.As the attorney for the association or owners, we discuss these disagreements with the adjuster. Our in-depth knowledge of the policy language and your property damages allows us to make arguments in favor of coverage and proper payment. Often these disagreements are escalated to a supervisor or an attorney for the carrier. More often than not, this escalation actually benefits our clients because it requires another person—often of a more advanced skill level—to review the claim and they may discover items that were missed by the original adjuster or they may agree with our arguments for coverage and additional payment.Should we come to a standstill with the carrier on a dispute, alternative dispute resolution methods are available, such as mediation or litigation, which we are prepared to pursue in the interest of our clients’ claim. Fortunately, if a carrier has already made a decision to partially cover a claim, they will make a payment for that amount, and we only dispute the remaining amount or coverage issues.
  6. Receiving the Insurance Funds

    Finally, after navigating through assessments, negotiations, and potential disputes, you arrive at the destination – receiving the insurance funds. Our goal is to ensure that the money you receive is fair under the terms of your policy, and covers repair or replacement for all eligible damages. This is the culmination of a meticulous process, and it’s where the expertise of a property damage claim attorney truly shines.So, as a board member, what can you do to best position your property for an impending insurance claim?

Tips for Board Members

First and foremost, familiarize yourself with your insurance policy. I can’t stress this enough – knowledge is power. Understand the coverage, limitations, and any exclusions. This foundational understanding will empower you to make informed decisions throughout the claim process AND before a claim ever occurs. Again, Premier Property Law is happy to review your policy and explain the coverages so you know that your property is protected.

The second tip is a golden rule – document everything. From the initial discovery of damage, to every interaction with the insurance company, keep a meticulous record. Photos, videos, emails, and notes – these are your tools. This documentation not only strengthens your claim but also provides a clear timeline of events in case disputes arise. And sometimes it can lead to a bad faith claim. More on that in a future blog. Now, for the final and crucial tip – consult with a property damage claim attorney early in the process. Don’t wait until you’re facing roadblocks. Having an attorney from the outset can streamline the entire claim process and prevent bumps in the road. We can review your policy, guide you through the initial steps, and proactively address any potential issues before they escalate. So, to sum it up – know your policy inside and out, document everything meticulously, and consider seeking legal counsel early on. These tips can be the key to a smoother and more successful insurance claim experience for you and your community.

Conclusion

Board members, remember, you don’t have to navigate the Florida insurance claim lifecycle alone. My law firm is here to help. If you find yourself facing a property damage claim, or if you simply want to make sure your property is adequately covered, reach out for a review and
consultation. Your community deserves the best outcome, and we are here to make that happen.

For more information, call/text us at (954) 233-0120, or email us at help@premproplaw.com.

Resources

It’s important to understand what’s happening in your case

Our clients have access to the Litigation Success Guide™, a collection of quick, easy-to-understand videos explaining each part of the litigation process—so you always know and understand what’s happening in your case.

Get Help with Your Claim

If you are in need of legal assistance or guidance, we encourage you to contact us for a free case review. We are here to answer any questions you may have and provide you with the personalized attention you deserve.

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