Reading this article will teach you when and why you need a Florida lawyer for your insurance claim.
Sadly, it is not a question of whether you will need a lawyer for your insurance claim but rather when you need a lawyer for your insurance claim. Insurance companies have made it a routine practice to deny insurance claims. Insurance claims are denied because it is profitable to do so. Every penny not paid for an insurance claim is a penny earned for the insurance company.
The almighty profit is held in higher esteem than the contractual obligation to deal in good faith. A cold calculation is turned into a routine business practice. Deny. Delay. Defend. By erecting this gauntlet, insurance companies ensure that many legitimate claimants become discouraged, tired or even frightened by the claims process. When that happens, claimants give up and receive nothing for their insurance claim. End result? Insurance company wins.
Why You Should File an Insurance Claim
Your insurance policy is a contract. Think of it like a service contract. When you pay insurance premiums, you are paying the insurance company to come to your aid if an accident or event takes place. If an accident or event takes place, the insurance company must make you whole for your damages. The insurance company must place you in the same position you were in before the accident or event. Nothing more, nothing less. This is the essence of the bargain.
Let's start with this premise, there is nothing wrong with making an insurance claim. This should be common sense. However, insurance companies have done a good propaganda job over the years to demonize those that make an insurance claim. As though an insurance claim is not the right thing to do or is less than honest. Don't fall for it. There is nothing wrong with making an insurance claim. If you do not want to make an insurance claim, I would encourage you to ask yourself why you pay the insurance premiums.
You Need a Florida Insurance Lawyer when the Insurance Company Delays
Proceeding through the claims process can be a test of endurance and patience. It all starts with the initial reporting of the claim and continues through the inspection. During this process, you will be subjected to many questions. Sometimes you will be treated suspiciously and perhaps even as a criminal. To follow are the inevitable and endless requests for documents, receipts, inventory lists, and even tax returns. You must comply with the reasonable requests of your insurance company while it investigates your claim.
It is time to get a lawyer for your Florida insurance claim if the insurance company makes unreasonable requests. Examples of unreasonable requests could include requests for information that have no relation to the loss or which are so broad they invade your right to privacy. You will need to get a Florida insurance lawyer if the insurance company asks you for the same information or documents which you have already provided. It would be a good idea to retain an insurance lawyer if the insurance company treats you like a common criminal and the claim was referred to S.I.U. or the special investigations unit. Finally, you will have no choice but to hire a Florida insurance attorney if the insurance company refuses to decide whether to pay your claim or refuses to respond to your requests for updates.
You Need a Florida Insurance Lawyer when the Insurance Company Denies
The second phase of the insurance claims process is the denial stage. Many insurance claims are routinely denied. The denial arrives in the mail as a form letter. The form letter will "regretfully" inform you there is no coverage for your claim. The insurance company will justify the denial of your claim by citing a lot of language from your insurance policy you do not understand. A plain simple explanation as to what is going on will most likely be lacking.
You will need an insurance lawyer to review the insurance company's denial letter. For sure. Without a doubt. Most claimants will assume the denial letter is correct and justified. Who knows better what is covered and what is not covered but the insurance company? The problem with this logic is it trusts the safety of the sheep to the wolf. Don't do it. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a denial letter which was simply wrong or contained policy language that had nothing to do with the insurance claim.
You Need a Florida Insurance Lawyer when the Insurance Company Defends
The final phase for an insurance claim if you have the pleasure to make it this far is the defend stage. The defend stage means that a lawsuit has been filed against the insurance company because they failed to pay for the insurance claim. At this stage, most claimants already have a lawyer.
If however, you are one of the few who has decided it might be fun to file a lawsuit on your own, I can only advise you that now is the time to get yourself an insurance lawyer. Just as it is not recommended to perform surgery on yourself, rarely is it wise to be your own lawyer. Neither the Judge nor the other side will help you with your case. You will be obligated to know all the procedures, rules and laws to prosecute your case. Without having that knowledge, you will most likely be handed a bad result. The lawyers for the insurance company will show you no mercy and are trained mercenaries in the art of legal war. They also have a financial incentive to work the file and string it along as long as possible. If you find yourself in this situation, it is definitely time to hire a Florida insurance lawyer to level the playing field. In all instances, we are here to help.
About the Author: Patrick Russell, Esq., has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1994 and is an experienced Florida insurance lawyer. Patrick started his insurance law practice more than twenty years ago when he represented homeowners and business owners for their Hurricane Andrew insurance claims. The purpose of this article is educational and not for the solicitation of legal services. The goal is to avoid the mistakes learned from the past, specifically those from previous windstorms. Knowledge is power. Information is free. Mistakes are costly. If you would like more tips on how to process your Florida insurance claim, Patrick can be reached at (305) 608-2977 or here.