The Florida Bar

Consumer Pamphlet: Homeowners’ Insurance

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Consumer Pamphlet: Homeowners’ Insurance

(This pamphlet is available online only)

 

Table of Contents

Introduction
Coverages
Deductible
Post-loss policy obligations
Your insurance company’s obligations to you
Your mortgage company

Alternative dispute resolution
Mediation
Appraisal
Public insurance adjusters
Attorneys and attorneys’ fees

 

 


Introduction

When you purchase your home, you should consider protecting your asset with property insurance. If you have a mortgage on your property, you will be required to purchase insurance to protect your mortgage company’s security interest. Also, if you live in a condominium or are part of a homeowners’ association, the controlling documents may require you to maintain property insurance.

This online pamphlet will give you a brief overview of the types of coverage your insurance policy may provide, and your rights and obligations under your insurance policy.


Coverages

Below are several types of coverages that your homeowners’ policy may provide to you. You can confirm how much coverage you have by looking at your policy’s “Declaration” page, which should be located at the beginning of your policy.

Coverage A – Dwelling – Covers physical damage to your home.

Coverage B – Other Structures – Covers damage to other structures or buildings, such as a detached garage, shed, or fence.

Coverage C – Contents/Personal Property – Covers damage to, or loss of personal property. Personal property includes household contents and other personal belongings used, owned or worn by you or your family.

Coverage D – Additional Living Expenses – Covers additional living expenses when incurred. This means that the policy covers the necessary living expenses up to the stated limit, incurred by the insured to continue, as nearly as possible, the normal standard of living when the home cannot be occupied due to a covered loss.


Deductible

A deductible is a specified amount of money that you must pay before an insurance company will pay a claim. The amount of your deductible can be found on your policy’s “Declaration” page.


Post-loss policy obligations

Below are standard obligations that you have to your insurance company after a loss takes place:

● Give prompt notice of the loss.

● Protect the property from further damage, and make reasonable and necessary repairs to protect the property.

● Keep an accurate record of repairs and expenses regarding the loss.

● Prepare an inventory of damaged personal property with bills and receipts.

● Notify the police and credit card companies in case of a loss by theft.

● Show the damaged property.

● Provide records and documents.

● Submit to an examination under oath.

● Send a sworn proof of loss within 60 days of request.

You must ensure that you satisfy your obligations to your insurance company. If you do not comply with these obligations, you could forfeit coverage for an otherwise covered loss.


Your insurance company’s obligations to you

● Your insurance company must respond to communications from you within 14 days of receipt (Florida Statutes Chapter 627, Section 70131).

● Your insurance company also must pay or deny your claim within 90 days after receiving notice of your claim, unless there are factors beyond its control.


Your mortgage company

If you have a mortgage on your property, your insurance policy and your mortgage contract require that the mortgage company be listed as a payee on any insurance check that is issued to you for your loss. In this situation, you will need to contact your mortgage company directly to confirm its procedure for endorsing an insurance check. Typically, a mortgage company will want some type of confirmation that the repairs to your home have been completed, to protect its security interest in your property.

 

Alternative dispute resolution


Mediation

If a dispute arises between you and your insurance company, you may have a right under your policy and Florida law to participate in mediation at your insurance company’s expense through the Department of Financial Services’ mediation program.

Mediation is an informal way to resolve a claims dispute between you and your insurance company. It is a process in which a neutral third party acts to encourage and assist in the resolution of a dispute, without dictating the outcome. Your insurance company must provide a representative with full authority to settle the claim at the mediation conference. The conference should be held at a location near your residence.

You can obtain more information about pre-suit mediation with the DFS by visiting its website.


Appraisal

Most insurance policies contain an appraisal provision allowing the parties to submit a dispute as to the scope and amount of your loss to a neutral third party, or umpire. Unlike mediation, this neutral third party’s decision will be binding on the parties. Typically, you are obligated to pay any person who represents you during the appraisal process, as well as half of the cost of the umpire.

Read your policy’s appraisal provision to confirm your rights and obligations to appraisal.


Public insurance adjusters

A public adjuster is a professional who represents an insured by submitting, adjusting and negotiating an insurance claim with an insurance company. A public adjuster advocates for the insured during the claims process. Aside from attorneys, Florida licensed public adjusters are the only type of claims adjuster that can legally represent the rights of an insured during an insurance claim process. Most public adjusters charge a percentage of the settlement.

You can confirm that your public adjuster is licensed by visiting Florida’s Department of Financial Services licensee search page. The Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA) is the largest network of licensed public adjusters in Florida; you can go to its website to locate a Florida licensed public adjuster in your area.


Attorneys and attorneys’ fees

If a dispute arises between you and your insurance company, you should consult with a Florida licensed attorney to fully understand your rights and obligations. Florida law will allow you to recoup at least a portion of the attorneys’ fees and litigation costs that you may incur if you are forced to file a lawsuit against your insurance company and obtain a judgment against the insurer (Florida Statutes Chapter 627).

[Updated May 2017]