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As Tropical Storm Fay approaches Central Florida, citizens hope that their insurance companies will be prepared to deal fairly with their customers. In the past, insurance companies have not been forthcoming with their insureds and have delayed claims. There was a great deal of litigation after Hurricane Katrina because of insurance companies denying or delaying claims. Florida law provides for an insurance company to pay for attorney fees if they deny coverage to their insured. The reasoning behind this is simple if you understand insurance contracts. An insurance policy is a contract between the company and the insured. The insured agrees to pay premiums to the company and the company agrees to provide certain coverages as outlined in the policy. Further, the Florida Statutes include some other provisions affecting the relationship between the company and insured. For example, there is a duty of good faith and fair dealing between the parties. If one of the parties breaks that agreement or does not live up to the contract, then they are in breach and should be responsible if a lawyer needs to be hired.

Most homeowners’ insurance contracts have the following coverages:

  • Coverage A – Dwelling (Home)
  • Coverage B – Other Structures (Garage, Pool Screen)
  • Coverage C – Personal Property (Furniture, Clothes, Electronics)
  • Coverage D – Alternative Living Expenses / Loss of Use (Living Elsewhere While Home is Fixed)

Also keep in mind that an insurance company is responsible for lodging and food if your home is not fit to reside in after a hurricane. You will pay the cost up front, but should be reimbursed. Also, tree removal should be paid for by insurance, and that if any appliances or other property (including electronics) is damaged, then insurance shold pay for that too.

Hopefully Floridians’ insurance companies will be honest and quickly meet their obligations should they need to after Fay passes. If not, it is always in the insured’s interest to contact an attorney, both because their is usually no up-front cost to them, and because it will hopefully prevent an insurance company from playing games in the future.

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