Water damage claims abound in a state like Florida, where hurricane season is six months out of the year and rainfall affects the state year-round. Plus, let's not forget the possibility of water damage from sources connected to or inside the house. Saving your home or business from water damage can prove a stressful ordeal. It can feel time-consuming, money-intensive, and mentally draining. When dealing with property damage, you likely have little desire to fight with your insurance company on top of everything else.
Let Dolman Law Group handle your insurance claim for you. A Florida water damage lawyer on our team can fight for the financial recovery you deserve. In addition, we can help you deal with the insurance company if you face challenges or receive a denial. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to discuss your rights and action plan.
- You Can Hire a Florida Water Damage Attorney With Our No-Fee Guarantee
- Personal Attention and Professional Service at Our Florida Law Firm
- Why You May Want a Florida Water Damage Claims Lawyer
- Our Florida Water Damage Lawyers Handle the Entire Claim Process
- How Long Does it Take to Settle a Water Damage Claim?
- Can I Sue My Insurance Company Over a Water Damage Claim?
- Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?
- What Types of Water Damage Does My Homeowners Insurance Policy Cover?
- Content and Structural Water Damage You Can Repair or Replace With Insurance
- What Homeowners Insurance Doesn't Cover
- How Do Flood Damage and Water Damage Differ?
- How to Deal With the Insurance Company After Making a Water Damage Claim
- Let Dolman Law Group Fight for the Water Damage Payout You Deserve
You Can Hire a Florida Water Damage Attorney With Our No-Fee Guarantee
Property damage clients don't pay out-of-pocket or upfront to hire our law firm. We take clients under a contingency-fee arrangement, so you don't pay for our legal service unless we recover money for your losses. Our firm receives a small percentage of the financial compensation we help you obtain.
This takes the stress out of finding a Florida property damage attorney because it gives you access to legal assistance without regard for hourly fees or a retainer. In addition, it puts you in a position to win with a water damage lawyer who cares as much about your financial recovery as you do.
Personal Attention and Professional Service at Our Florida Law Firm
Nearly two decades of practicing personal injury and property damage law in Florida has taught us what it means to serve clients. Since our beginning, we've expanded our practice to include 22 offices. Clients in the Sunshine State benefit from our years of experience and commitment to achieving favorable results.
We're the right firm to handle your water damage claim if you value:
Personal Attention From Your Legal Advocate
At our firm, we prioritize every case. That's why we are mindful of giving each client the personal attention they deserve. You're more than just a claim number or a case file to us. A Florida water damage attorney at our firm takes the time to get to know you, understand the intricacies of your claim, and develop a legal strategy that best suits your needs. You have direct contact with the attorney handling your case and the help of our caring legal support staff.
A Law Firm That's Willing to Fight
Our experience handling thousands of property damage cases has made it clear that insurance claims don't always resolve smoothly. Sometimes you have to fight for what you deserve, and we stand ready to fight for you. We don't expect it to be easy, but we expect it to be worth it for our clients.
Our water damage lawyers in Florida take a pro-active approach to resolving claims. We can comprehensively investigate your water damage, compile evidence of your losses, and demand the maximum compensation available from the start.
We make it clear from day one that we can go to trial if the insurance company refuses to handle your claim in good faith. We've built a successful litigation practice led by an award-winning, Board-Certified Trial Lawyer. We don't back down from a tough case or from the necessity of filing suit.
Access to Financial Resources
Your water damage claim attorney has access to a budget that allows them to pursue compensation with few restrictions. Our law firm can hire the most reputable investigators, expert claims adjusters and damage appraisers, and qualified water damage restoration companies to support your case.
We have the financial resources to sustain a trial against the biggest insurance companies in the market, and they know it. Insurance companies know our reputation for aggressive legal action because we win for our clients.
Why You May Want a Florida Water Damage Claims Lawyer
Water damage poses a greater threat the longer it goes uncorrected. Water damage usually requires expensive restoration, whether from a subtle leak or a sudden overflow. The longer you wait for your insurance policy to pay out, the worse the damage and the more expensive it becomes.
Additionally, water damage claims are some of the most difficult for policyholders to navigate. Generally, claimants face a lot of confusion surrounding whether or not the homeowners policy or commercial insurance covers your type of water damage. An inadequate understanding of your coverage can lead to errors in filing your claim, leaving you with less compensation than you're entitled to. Sometimes that means no compensation at all.
Whether an outright claim denial or an undervalued settlement offer, handling your water damage claim alone could result in undue headaches, lost financial recovery, and preventable delays to your payout. However, with the help of a water damage claim lawyer, you can cut through the red tape, avoid mistakes, and counter the insurance practices that frequently cost claimants time and money.
Our Florida Water Damage Lawyers Handle the Entire Claim Process
We leave no part of your case up to chance. Our water damage attorneys manage every facet of your claim to ensure we maximize your recovery and procure the desired results.
Our typical duties in filing a water damage claim include:
- Investigating the cause of the water damage your property sustained
- Analyzing your homeowners or commercial property insurance policy to understand the extent of your coverage
- Working with water damage restoration companies, damage appraisers, and public adjusters to accurately set a value for your claim
- Handling paperwork related to filing your claim
- Overseeing communication with your insurance company and third parties
- Negotiating a fair settlement for your water losses
- Updating you on the progress of your water damage claim
- Appealing an unjustified insurance claims denial
- Preparing your case for trial
- Filing a lawsuit and fighting for you in court
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Water Damage Claim?
Unfortunately, no predetermined amount of time exists to process a water damage claim. Each case comes with unique factors that may vary widely. As a result, it could take weeks to resolve one claim but years to resolve another.
We need to take important steps after you initiate your case with a water damage attorney. Before we file your claim with the insurance company, we work to understand your situation. We can investigate, gather evidence, and evaluate the water damage, and that can take some time.
In general, the time it takes to work through and settle your water damage claim depends on:
- The severity of the water damage to your home or commercial property
- The time required to gather all necessary proof of loss, appraise the damage, and investigate the cause
- The time it takes your insurance company to complete its investigation
- Waiting for correspondence
- Pending lawsuits
The above factors could significantly increase the time it takes to settle your water damage claim. However, our attorneys will work to ensure your case moves along as efficiently as possible. We can also hold insurance companies to certain time limits for your claim under state law.
Time Limit for Responding to Claims
Florida instituted several laws to protect claimants from unreasonable and unnecessary delays in processing their insurance claims. The Florida Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights outlines the statutes that protect claimants.
You have these rights as an insured homeowner:
- The insurance company has 14 days to acknowledge your water damage claim in writing and provide you with your next steps.
- Upon receipt of a written request from you, the insurance agency must confirm that your water damage claim is covered in full, covered in part, denied, or under investigation. They must do so within 30 days after you submit a completed Proof of Loss statement.
- The insurer has 90 days from the date you submit your claim to investigate and remit full payment, provide partial payment covering the undisputed portion of your claim, or deny your claim in writing. However, if circumstances beyond the company's control warrant the delay, they could receive an exemption.
- The insurance company must pay interest on the money they owe you if it has not properly denied your claim, paid it in full, or paid the undisputed portion within the 90 days provided by law. Interest accumulates from the date of the claim's filing until you receive a payment.
- If you reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company and you have the agreement in writing, the insurer has 20 days to pay the money.
Florida imposes these deadlines on insurers, but if the company denies your claim, the clock stops. Additionally, the insurer could disregard the deadlines and let the chips fall where they may. At this point, your lawyer may need to appeal and continue talks with the insurer to reach a settlement or take the case to court to reach a favorable end.
A Lawsuit Affects Your Claim Settlement Time
Lawsuits, in particular, have a way of drawing out a case for months or years. If we cannot reach a fair settlement agreement with the insurance company or the insurer acts in bad faith, a lawsuit may prove the best way to obtain the compensation you deserve, but it may not resolve your case quickly. The time it takes to work through the litigation process, which includes waiting on courts to move the case through the trial pipeline, can often prove lengthy.
Hiring a Florida water damage claims lawyer with a strong litigation background and the ability to build a solid case from the start can help you seek results. With the right lawyer on your team, pursuing your water damage case at trial may not even prove necessary. Instead, the threat of a trial may be sufficient to incentivize a viable insurance payout.
Can I Sue My Insurance Company Over a Water Damage Claim?
A policyholder who faced a breach of contract through a claim denial or illegal conduct can sue their insurance company. We can also file a lawsuit on the grounds of bad faith if the insurer violated the state's laws. A Florida water damage attorney can determine whether a lawsuit may prove necessary in your case.
Generally, the circumstances that often lead to a lawsuit in a water damage claim include:
- Your insurance carrier denies your claim for water damage covered under your policy.
- Your insurance company misapplies insurance policy provisions.
- Your insurer takes longer than reasonably necessary to adjust your water damage claim.
- Your insurer intentionally misleads you or acts on information it knows to be false.
Florida Statute of Limitations for Filing a Lawsuit Against an Insurance Company
Claimants have five years from the cause of action to file a civil suit against their insurance provider for bad faith or breach of contract.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?
Homeowners insurance covers water damage in specific cases. Usually, if the water damage proves sudden and accidental, your homeowners insurance policy can cover it. However, if the water damage happens gradually or results from a flood, your homeowners policy does not cover it.
The homeowners insurance company generally pays for water damage from one of the covered perils. For example, you could get coverage for damage if a hurricane breaks a window and sends rain pouring in.
Generally, if your water damage results from one of the following hazards, you could recover compensation under your homeowners insurance:
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorm and hail
- Weight of snow, ice, or sleet
- Accidental discharge/overflow of water
- Sudden rupture of water connection in appliances
- Burst pipes from freezing conditions
- Riot or civil disturbance
- Damage caused by an aircraft
- Damage caused by a vehicle
- Vandalism, malicious mischief, or theft
- Falling objects
In addition to homeowners insurance, other types of insurance also cover water damage, including:
- Condo insurance
- Rental insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Renters insurance
What Types of Water Damage Does My Homeowners Insurance Policy Cover?
Your policy will detail the specifics of the covered water damage. You may have endorsements that cover particular types of damage that do not come standard with homeowners insurance. The coverage could also vary if you have another type of property insurance. Whether or not you get coverage usually depends on the source of the water.
Covered Water Damage Sources
Generally speaking, if your water damage resulted from any these incidents, you could recover compensation through your homeowners insurance policy:
- Heavy Rainfall and Storms: Any openings in your home can allow rain to enter. When hurricanes, tropical storms, or windstorms rip off roofs and siding, it can affect your home's structural integrity. Additionally, water can damage the belongings and fixtures inside your property.
- Overflowing Water: Bathtubs, sinks, and toilets that overflow can result in water damage. You can usually get coverage for this kind of damage. However, you could face exclusions if the overflow resulted from a lack of maintenance.
- Burst pipes: Pipe deterioration, water pressure, and freezing can all lead to burst pipes. This is one of the top causes of water damage.
- Damaged Roof: Water can come in during rainfall or storms if you face roof damage. Not only does this lead to internal damage to your home but also structural damage as the water can seep into the walls and foundation.
- Damaged Gutters: If your gutters sustain damage from covered perils such as a storm or lightning, which leads to water damage, the insurer may pay to have it fixed.
Again, you could get water damage losses covered if the losses resulted from a sudden and unexpected event. So, you could have trouble getting compensation from water damage resulting from slow leaks or lack of maintenance. Damaged, punctured, deteriorated, or unsecured pipes and hoses can allow water to drip and flow into your home.
Leaks may go overlooked by homeowners and tenants because they often appear minor, but if left unchecked, they could become a challenge. This can prove especially true if a leak occurs inside a wall or beneath the foundation of your property. Mold and structural damage can occur. However, your insurer may not cover leaking pipe damage.
It's always best to carefully review your policy to understand your coverage. Unfortunately, insurance policies often prove notoriously difficult to decipher, so it's beneficial to have a Florida property damage claims lawyer scrutinize your policy for any exclusions, endorsements, or limits that apply to your water damage claim.
Content and Structural Water Damage You Can Repair or Replace With Insurance
Water damage can affect the inside of your home, including your possession and the structure of your home. The types of damage that your homeowners insurance policy may cover include the following:
Structural damage affects the integrity of your home's structure. Essentially, this refers to your home's ability to remain standing upright. Structural damage includes weakening of the building's roof, foundation, or load-bearing walls.
Structural damage can occur if your home takes in water that goes into the walls or foundation. In addition, soaked soil beneath your home, saturated wood, and rusted metal parts can eventually lead to a collapse.
Signs of structural damage caused by water include:
- Saturated insulation
- Suddenly hard-to-open windows and doors
- Electrical circuits and wires that get wet or damaged
- Cracks in ceilings, floors, walls, wood, and the foundation of your home
- Cracks seeping with rust
- Parts of your home that appear to be sagging, leaning, swollen, or lopsided
- Damage to the roof or siding of your home
Internal Water Damage
Water damage to the interior of your home or another property can prove easier to rectify than structural damage. It can also end up being less costly. However, internal damage to your home can still affect your health and safety. For example, wet floorboards, baseboards, carpeting, walls, or wooden fixtures can lead to mildew or mold growth.
When home appliances get wet, they can malfunction due to electrical failure. Your homeowners coverage typically includes this type of damage. Remember that even electrical appliances that dried pose a safety risk, so you'll want to avoid using them even if they appear fine.
Water-damaged furniture can leave you out hundreds or thousands of dollars. If the material gets wet, moldy, or mildews, odors can develop on wooden or fabric-wrapped pieces. Insects also tend to favor these moist environments. Even if they appear to dry normally, the furniture may not work the same. Wood can become rickety or swollen, and cushions may become malformed.
Destroyed Personal Possessions
Water damage can also cost you your electronic devices, clothes, shoes, important documents, and sentimental possessions. Damaged or destroyed personal items are covered under homeowners insurance.
Mold and Mildew
The growth of mold and mildew poses a significant threat after water damage. These growths start developing immediately. With the high humidity Florida experiences, the issue can worsen quickly. If you do not rectify water damage promptly and thoroughly, mold can spread throughout your home, rendering it uninhabitable.
Unfortunately, water damage often occurs in home areas that you cannot see, such as inside the walls. If you suspect water has gotten inside the structure of your home following a natural disaster or accident, you must have the funds to deal with it quickly and adequately. A water damage lawyer from our team can prove an asset in these circumstances as he or she can help move your claim along and avoid costly delays.
What Homeowners Insurance Doesn't Cover
As mentioned, homeowners insurance generally does not pay for gradual damage or anything caused by wear and tear or neglect. You have insurance against unforeseen occurrences and the out-of-the-ordinary. Insurance companies don't assume the risk for things that happen with normal use or for your failure to fulfill your expected duties concerning the maintenance of your home.
Your insurance policy does not cover gradual damage because it indicates a problem that was left unchecked. To the insurer, this signals a sign of neglect. For example, if your upstairs bathtub was left to leak for months until it caused the living room ceiling to sag, your insurance may not cover it as this water damage happened over time.
The Cause of Water Damage
Frequently, a property insurance policy will cover the cost to repair the water damage itself but not the cause of the damage. For example, if an overflowing toilet caused water damage under your bathroom tile, the insurance company would cover the repair of the floor. Still, you would need to pay to fix the problem with your toilet.
Sewage or Water Backup
Homeowners insurance typically does not cover sewage or wastewater backup from sewer pipes and outside drains. Clogs in the sewer pipes and sewage clean-up can prove costly to address. However, insurers offer coverage for these types of repairs in a separate endorsement.
A homeowners insurance policy generally doesn't cover flood damage. Floods, which come from a source outside the home, generally prove too high risk for most homeowners insurance companies. You'll need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy to receive damage coverage for floods.
FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides flood insurance. Some private insurers also provide flood insurance. To purchase flood insurance, you must live in a community that meets the program's requirements.
How Do Flood Damage and Water Damage Differ?
Technically, flood damage is a type of water damage, but there are some fundamental differences between the two. Water damage typically refers to sudden, unexpected water damage that does not result from a flood. This often comes from an interior source in your home, or if may result from exterior damage that leads to interior water issues.
Flood damage, on the other hand, comes from natural water sources that accumulate on land before entering your home. A flood from a burst pipe in your home does not qualify for flood damage coverage per FEMA's standards.
Per FEMA, floods can come from:
- The overflow of inland or tidal waters
- The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source
- Mudflows caused by liquid and flowing mud on the surface of normally dry land
- The land collapsing along the shore of a body of water due to erosion, waves, or currents
Flood damage and water damage often prove complex subjects because of the language of insurance policies. The language is convoluted and difficult to follow for a reason. Many people are surprised to hear they don't have coverage in situations they thought their insurance provided for. It's important to understand your policy's language, so you know what you're paying for each month.
The Florida water damage lawyers at Dolman Law Group have extensive experience working on water damage claims. As a result, we have a thorough understanding of the language used in insurance policies and the rules used to interpret them. For example, we understand that if the water damage conditions in your home do not match the exclusions in your home insurance policy, the exclusions may not legally apply.
Moreover, if you don't understand how the insurer applies a provision within your policy, the insurance company must interpret it to benefit you. Without legal counsel to handle your insurance claim and make sense of your policy, you could have to pay for damage your insurance has a responsibility for.
How to Deal With the Insurance Company After Making a Water Damage Claim
Dealing with an insurance company can prove an exasperating experience. At times you may feel disheartened. You may feel outmatched. However, you can do certain things to level the playing field and protect your right to fair compensation.
When dealing with the insurance adjuster, remembering these five tips can significantly affect your outcome.
- Avoid giving a recorded statement to the insurer without contacting a water damage attorney. Your insurance company may require a recorded statement before processing your claim. It may not seem important to you, but this information can hurt your case. The insurer can use it to deny or devalue your water damage claim. An attorney from our team can guide you through this tricky process.
- Avoid signing documents without an attorney to review them. The documents you sign could give your insurer access to information they do not need or relieve you of your rights to full compensation. An insurance claim lawyer can review the documents you receive from the insurance provider and advise you of the implications of signing.
- Don't take a settlement if you are unsatisfied with the amount. If you're unhappy with your settlement offer, there's a good reason. Insurance adjusters make low offers routinely to wrap up their claims as quickly as possible, knowing claimants need the money immediately. If the water damage you've sustained far exceeds the money the insurance carrier offers, you owe it to yourself to fight for more. You may not have the time or ability to do that alone.
Let Dolman Law Group Fight for the Water Damage Payout You Deserve
Water damage claims can prove tricky to navigate by yourself. The good news is that you don't have to. A Florida water damage lawyer at Dolman Law Group can see you through the entire process and fight for the money you need to restore your home to its pre-loss condition.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started: (727) 451-6900. During your call, ask us your questions about your water damage claim. The call comes with no obligation.