Floridians May Get More Flood Insurance Options

April 21, 2014

The Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill on Wednesday, March 26, 2014, designed to encourage private insurance companies into the flood insurance market. Currently, Florida homeowners are often forced to obtain flood insurance through the federally subsidized national program. Our Miami Homeowners' Insurance Claim lawyers know how the National Flood Insurance Program has undergone significant reforms in the past year, sparking hefty premium increases for residents in flood prone areas and those who own older homes that previously had subsidized premiums.

Public outcry over the monumental price increase caused Congress to enact a stop-gap measure that will delay the most expensive changes to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. The act, however, has not been repealed and increases will be phased in over time.

Under the plan recently passed by the Senate, homeowners could save money by purchasing less insurance than is currently allowed under the federal program. A Florida homeowner looking to cut costs could insure their property for only the value of the outstanding mortgage, the actual cash value of the property, or the property's replacement cost. This is unique given that currently, under the federal program, the limits are $250,000 for a home and $100,000 for personal property. Further, the bill authorizes insurance companies to offer an array of deductible amounts and increased options for insuring the content of the home, secondary structures, and living expenses.

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Florida Home Insurance Rights Bill Advances

April 14, 2014

Jeff Atwater, Florida's Chief Financial Officer or CFO, approached the Legislature this spring with a seemingly simple request--grant additional protections to consumers dealing with property insurance companies. The push spurred the creation of several bills that all seek to protect insurance customers from overreaching insurance companies. Currently, a bill known as the "homeowner claims bill of rights" is heading for floor votes in the Florida House and the Senate.

The homeowner claims bill of rights would require insurers to provide homeowners with a one page summary of their rights when filing insurance claims. The measure was advanced by Atwater after he received thousands of calls to his office from consumers confused as to how to file a claim when their home has been damaged by a storm, fire, or other disaster. The one page summary would simplify matters for homeowners, explaining the steps and what they can expect when they file a claim. Our Miami homeowners' insurance attorneys find that the legislation might further prohibit insurance companies from using credit information to cancel a policy or deny a claim if the policy has been active for more than 90 days.

While many laud HB 743 and its companion SB 708 as providing much needed additional protections for consumers, some homeowner advocates feel the bills have been watered down considerably after insurance industry lobbying.

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Annual Florida Insurance Summit Held in January

March 27, 2014

Each year, the Florida Chamber of Commerce has a summit to discuss the insurance issues that have been important and will continue to be significant for the foreseeable future. This presents an interesting perspective about the problems and successes of insurance coverage in Florida. While it is enlightening to see how the politicians, consumer advocates, and insurance executives perceive the state of the insurance industry in Florida, it is the individual homeowners who feel the true impact.

A homeowner who has made all of the payments on his insurance policy in order to be protected in the event of an accident or other devastating loss might be shocked by the denial of a claim, but this happens every day throughout South Florida. The knowledgeable Miami homeowners' insurance attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. understand the motivations behind the denials and will fight to get the insurance company to reverse its decision. We continue to work hard and adapt as the insurance industry changes through the three decades that we have been defending the rights of homeowners.

At the 2014 Summit, the insurance commissioner of Florida discussed the fact that the reduction in reinsurance costs should lead to lower overall insurance costs. However, he did caution that the various factors that are included in calculating insurance rates means that there would not be a direct cause and effect relationship with reduced rates. Managing consumers' expectations was an important part of the delivered message. Of course, what this really means is that many people likely will not see any significant reduction in rates.

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New Florida Flood Insurance Program Could Include Earth Movement Coverage

March 20, 2014

As many victims of Hurricane Sandy throughout the Northeast are discovering, flood insurance policies issued under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) do not cover floods caused by "liquefaction of soil," also known as earth movement. This is a fact that long has been known to Florida homeowners, but advocates of the new private insurance program being created in the Florida legislature are hoping that the new bill will address this serious gap in insurance coverage.

When a homeowner has been denied for a claim that he believes should be covered under his policy, the skilled South Florida homeowners' insurance attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. are prepared to fight to get him the coverage that he deserves. Across South Florida, there are many homeowners who are fighting to get coverage for flood damage. We will evaluate your case and discuss your options for free and without obligation.

The federal policies that exist under the NFIP have exceptions for flood events that involve the movement of soil. The bill sponsored by Republican State Senator Jeff Brandes originally did not have a provision to cover this gap, but the bill is being sent back to the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and advocates are urging that this oversight be remedied.

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Is it Time for the Florida Legislature to Step in on Flood Insurance Matters?

March 9, 2014

The debate about whether there should be some control by the Florida legislature over different types of insurance categories has been going on for many years. With the recent scandals in the insurance industry, some have started calling for intervention again. The State of Florida has taken some steps to get involved with flood insurance policies after a federal bill has set the stage for premiums to rise dramatically. Despite the movement towards alleviating the burden on Florida residents who own homes here, many in Florida still face unjust claims denials.

When an insurance company to which you made faithful payments refuses to honor a valid claim, you need the assistance of the South Florida homeowners' insurance attorneys and commercial insurance claim attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. We have more than 100 years of collective experience in getting the results that our clients deserve. Our attorneys remain current on all the changes in Florida's insurance rules and regulations in order to provide the best possible legal representation to our clients.

In January 2014, the Florida Legislature began the process of creating an alternative option to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) with a bill that would develop regulated Florida insurance product. The Senate was the first to take up the bill and it had passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee before running into a roadblock in early February.

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How Recent Florida Case Law Can Negatively Affects Your Broken Tile Claim

March 5, 2014

Accidents happen in the home. A lamp may have fallen on your tile floor, chipping one tile, or perhaps a friend dropped a heavy weight on the floor, cracking multiple tiles. Whatever may have caused your tile to crack, the small amount of damage may lead to further damage that requires you to replace your entire floor. It's not always easy to match just one tile, especially in an older home. Our Miami homeowners insurance claim lawyers know that replacing an entire floor can be extremely costly, and generally your homeowner's insurance policy should be able to cover the cost of a new floor.

A recent Florida appellate case has made it extremely difficult for individuals to be compensated under their homeowner's insurance policies for broken tiles - no matter what the cause may be. In the case of Ergas v. Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company, the Court construed language in an insurance policy that precluded the Ergas family from receiving coverage for the cost of replacing a tile floor. A hammer was dropped and broke one tile. Ergas eventually had to replace the floor and sought to cover the cost of this construction by filing a claim under his homeowner's insurance policy.

The Court considered the incident of the hammer falling on the tile floor to be "marring," which is an exclusion to coverage under the Ergas' homeowner's insurance policy. Interestingly, many insurance companies are aware that such a Court decision is wrong and not in accordance with general insurance practices. Under basic contract law, any ambiguity in the terms of the contract is construed against the drafter of the contract. The drafter in all insurance contracts is the insurance company. In Ergas, the insurance policy in question did not define the term "marring." This term has various meanings which could lead to confusion. The Court did not conclusively define what "marring" means under an insurance policy, but did conclude that dropping a hammer onto a tile floor, damaging the tile, must mean "marring."

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Ten Things That May not be Covered by Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

February 27, 2014

A person who owns his or her home may worry about what happens in the event of an accident, but at least takes comfort in the fact that homeowners insurance will cover the loss. However, there are many claims that are denied based on exclusions in a policy that many people do not comprehend until it is too late.

If you have a homeowners' insurance policy and the insurance company is denying your claim, we understand the frustration that you likely feel. The experienced Miami Homeowners Insurance claim attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. have more than one hundred years of combined experience and understand the tactics of insurance companies. We will fight to get the coverage that you purchased and to which you are entitled.

Although there are many different claims that may not be covered, here are ten of the most common coverage denials:

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Getting the Insurance Credits that You Deserve

February 5, 2014

Florida homeowners have watched their premiums increase rapidly over the last few years. In addition to the rising cost of insurance, insurance scandals have hit many of the big name insurance providers, making homeowners wonder about the payment of claims when they happen. While a homeowner is at the mercy of the insurance companies to some extent, there are steps that a homeowner can take to get the home protection that he needs while preserving some of the budget. However, even when the homeowner has done everything right, there are times when he faces a devastating claim denial.

The skilled Miami homeowners' insurance attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. have spent more than three decades fighting for the rights of homeowners who dutifully paid their premiums only to have a claim denied or underpaid when it mattered most. We will work hard to get you the payment that you deserve.

In order to set the homeowners' insurance premium rate on a person's home, the insurance company will analyze the home based on:

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Florida Hurricane Insurance Rates Keep Going Up

December 29, 2013

As a Florida resident, you are definitely aware of what is at stake if a hurricane hits. Your property is in danger of being obliterated by a hurricane, and you can only do so much to protect your cherished belongings, including your home, your cars, your boat, and all of your personal property inside your home. Luckily, it's been a while since we have had a damaging hurricane like Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Wilma. However, many Florida citizens are wondering why insurance rates keep going up. You contribute a good portion of your hard-earned money towards property insurance premiums to protect your property in the event of a hurricane.

According to annual reports, our Miami hurricane damage claims lawyers find that the Florida's Office of Insurance Regulation has continued to approve greater than 100 requests from insurance companies each year since 2009 to increase the insurance rates. This is a huge burden on all Florida residents with property insurance, but especially those with the state-created insurer, Citizens, as nearly 1.3 million Florida residents have insurance policies with Citizens. There have even been requests by carriers to raise rates by double-digits, a seemingly astronomical amount that many Florida residents simply may not be able to afford.

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6 Steps on How to File a Successful Fire Damage Insurance Claim

December 5, 2013

We all know how frustrating insurance companies can be. We have insurance because we need it in the event of some catastrophic event. However, once that unfortunate event occurs, insurance companies can make it extremely difficult for you to recover what you have lost. Our Florida property insurance claim attorneys understand that insurance policies are different, but the key goal is the same - make people as whole as possible after losing their property.

To help guide you in the event your home or business catches on fire, and your property suffers fire or smoke damage, follow the six steps below. These suggestions will help you have a greater chance of getting your fire damage claim resolved as quickly as possible, and will help you get what you deserve under your insurance policy.

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Dog Bites and Property Insurance Coverage in Florida

November 22, 2013

When we think of a homeowner's insurance policy, the real estate itself in addition to any personal property such as furniture, appliances, clothing and jewelry come to mind. Many homeowner's insurance policies do not provide coverage for dog bite accidents. Dog bites can happen when you least expect it. Your dog may become aggressive out of the blue, believe someone in your home, yard, or out in public,, and may bite someone. Or, you may be at another person's home and are bit by that person's dog.

Under Section 767.04 of the Florida Statutes, the law currently allows for a victim to recover damages from a dog owner for injuries suffered as a result of a dog bite. When a victim is awarded money damages, the defendant dog owner will have to come up with the money. Either the dog owner will pay out of pocket, or the dog owner may file a claim to receive coverage under a homeowner's policy. If you have a homeowner's policy and own a dog, it is imperative that you look at your policy to see if dog bites and other dog-related accidents are covered in the event someone is injured. Many policies have Dog Bite exclusions. This is yet another example where insurance companies limit or reduce coverages to decrease their exposure. Premium dollars go up while coverages go down.

Dogs are considered your personal property. This may seem degrading to some people, as we consider our dogs to be man's best friend, however, there is no other category to put dogs into when addressing the unfortunate events that can arise as a consequence of dog ownership. Therefore, our Florida Homeowners Property Insurance Claims lawyers understand that dog bite coverage is typically included in a homeowner's insurance policy if you actively choose to have such coverage.

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Injuries Which Occur on Your Property May Result in Unforeseen Insurance Claims

November 4, 2013

This past January, a pilot attempting to land his plane at the Flagler County Airport crashed into a Palm Coast home shortly after radioing in an emergency. The pilot reported mechanical problems just minutes before crashing into a wooded subdivision of the Palm Coast. Photographs of the accident show only the plane's silver trail visible in the wreckage of the ranch-style home. The homeowner happened to be in a back bedroom and was able to climb out a window before her home erupted in flames. The pilot and two passengers died in the crash. This tragic accident caused extensive damage to the home and there is a strong possibility that the homeowner will have to rely on personal insurance coverage to pay for the repairs to the home.

While it is highly unlikely that most homeowners will ever experience anything remotely close to an airplane crashing into their home, many homeowners will have to file a homeowner's claim at some point. Homeowner's claims can be filed for damage to the property, theft, or when a visitor is injured on the property. There are times when an insurance provider will not honor a claim until experienced Miami homeowner's insurance attorneys like those at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. step in to fight for the homeowner's rights.

The Process for a Miami Homeowner's Insurance Claim

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Florida Consumers Face Tough Decisions Regarding Their Homeowner's Insurance

October 22, 2013

This month, many Florida homeowners who are currently insured through Citizens Property Insurance Corp - a state-run insurance company - will receive notification that another insurance company may take over their insurance coverage. Policyholders will have to make a decision: stay with Citizens and risk having their insurance options become limited in January, or agree to stay with the smaller carrier they are assigned. Of course, the assigned carrier will be able to raise insurance premiums as high as it chooses once the policy comes up for renewal. Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature are pushing to rid the state of Citizens entirely, which currently holds over one million state-subsidized policies. Under the current laws, should Citizens Property Insurance fail to maintain the cash reserve needed to pay claims following a major storm, state taxpayers would foot the bill for the difference for any shortfall.

Insurance coverage is critical for restoring a victim of an accident or natural disaster to a state of well-being. If you have learned that your insurance carrier is not going to cover your claim, the experienced, Miami homeowner's insurance attorneys at Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A. are here to fight to protect your rights.

Shifting State-Funded Homeowner's Insurance to Private Carriers

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Six Things to Do to Make Sure Your Home is Adequately Insured

August 31, 2013

Your home is probably the most expensive single purchase that you ever will make. It is important to be sure that the insurance you have is enough to cover any loss that you may suffer before you need to make a claim. If you do find yourself in a fight with your insurance company, the Florida homeowner's insurance lawyers at Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A. in Miami can help you get the results you deserve.

A large number of homeowners in South Florida are underinsured. There are 6 things that you can do to make sure that you are not one of them:

1. Understand the type of policy that you have and what coverage it provides. There are many different policy types available to homeowners. It is important that the policy you have covers your unique needs. The policy should provide coverage for a large range of threats and incidents. You should analyze different policy types with your insurance agent to compare coverage options. In addition, the policy should specifically cover unique features, such as painted mural and exotic hardwood floors.

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Six Things to Do to Make Sure Your Home is Adequately Insured

August 21, 2013

Your home is probably the most expensive single purchase that you ever will make. It is important to be sure that the insurance you have is enough to cover any loss that you may suffer before you need to make a claim. If you do find yourself in a fight with your insurance company, the Florida homeowner's insurance lawyers at Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, P.A. in Miami can help you get the results you deserve.

A large number of homeowners in South Florida are underinsured. There are six things that you can do to make sure that you are not one of them:

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