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The language in a homeowners insurance policy can often be difficult to interpret especially in the context of other provisions of the policy.  Ambiguity in a policy generally will be construed to provide coverage when the language is susceptible to conflicting interpretations authorizing and negating coverage.  However, our Miami homeowners’ insurance claims attorneys understand this rule must be understood in light of the distinction between latent and patent ambiguity.  Patent ambiguity refers to provisions or terms that are conflicting or unclear language within the four corners of the policy.  Because the insurance company drafts the policy, such ambiguities will be construed against the insurance company.  Latent ambiguities involve situations where the policy is clear on its face, but unanticipated facts emerge that render the policy unclear under the circumstances.

The 2nd DCA, in Price v. Castle Key Indemnity Company considered this distinction in reversing summary judgment against an insured.  The court considered whether a loss caused by 195,000 gallons of water over a prolonged period would be considered “seepage.”  The parties to a homeowners insurance policy agreed that the massive water loss was caused by a leaking pipe in an upstairs bathroom during an extended absence of the policyholder.  The policy covered “sudden and accidental physical loss to property” subject to the following exclusion: Continue reading →

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Our Miami homeowners insurance claims attorneys recognize the critical importance of a homeowners insurance policy after a serious loss caused by perils like a severe windstorm, fire, or another covered peril.  While a homeowners policy provides vital financial protection against a potentially devastating loss, insurance companies deny many legitimate insurance claims.  This tendency of insurers to search for defensible reasons to refuse to pay a claim makes it imperative that homeowners carefully read and understand their policy.  Every homeowner policy imposes certain duties on the insured to undertake post-loss actions.  Failure to comply with these conditions can result in the insurance company having a valid basis to refuse to pay a claim.

The Florida 3rd DCA case of State Farm Insurance Company v. Xirinachs, et al. provides an example of the fundamental way that non-compliance with the terms of an insurance policy can adversely impact the insured during the claims process.  The insureds brought a claim for supplemental benefits under a policy with the insurer after their home was allegedly damaged during Hurricane Wilma.  The insureds sought an order compelling appraisal that was granted by the trial court. Continue reading →

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When Florida property owners experience a loss in the form of damage to their home, they often are shocked when their insurer handles the claim in less than an expeditious manner.  While the purpose of insurance is to cover unexpected losses, the insurance industry maximizes its profits by finding ways to avoid paying valid claims.  When homeowners file a property damage claim, insurance companies frequently look for justifications to deny coverage.  As an insurer investigates a claim, the process often begins with scrutiny of the insurance application.  In this blog, our Florida homeowners insurance claim attorneys explain how questions that are answered incorrectly may lead to a denial based on claims of misrepresentation or non-disclosure.

Florida Law Authorizes Rescission for Some Application Inaccurracies

Although inaccuracies or lies in a policy application can constitute a valid basis to deny a claim, insurance companies cannot automatically refuse to settle a claim because of incorrect or missing information in the application.  By the same token, our Miami homeowners claim lawyers recognize innocent mistakes by policyholders can have devastating consequences in certain situations.  The relevance of the inaccurate information to the decision to issue a policy, policy limits, and the amount of the premium will determine whether the omission or misstatement allows the insurance to rescind the policy and deny the claim.  Florida Statutes, Section 627.409 authorizes insurers to rescind an insurance contract under certain circumstances based on false statements or non-disclosures. Continue reading →

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Greenberg, Stone & Urbano Discusses Your Hurricane Insurance Policy

After 10 years without a single hurricane-making landfall in Florida, hurricane Hermine broke the streak when it hit Florida as a Category 1 hurricane near the Big Bend area.  The storm brought heavy wind and rains, knocking out power and inflicting widespread damage.  One person was killed in Marion County while storm damage caused damage to several homes.  Not longer after Hermine cleared the state, Hurricane Matthew formed and turned towards the state of Florida.  Matthew reached a Category 5 storm before making landfall, the first storm to reach these wind speeds since 2007.  Matthew left much of the east coast with power outages, flooding, and damages.  While the storm fortunately turned slightly out to sea, it  left lasting damages in many areas.

At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, our Miami homeowners’ insurance lawyers know that hurricane season is a time of stress for many Floridians. Bracing for a hurricane is stressful, and worrying about your property in the event of a storm can add far more anxiety. As a Florida homeowner, it is imperative that you obtain the coverage you need to protect yourself in case a hurricane strikes.  Continue reading →

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Household injuries occur more often than many realize.  In fact, millions of Americans are injured on residential property each year.  Those injured in their residence or at the home of another may be able to seek compensation through homeowners’ insurance for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.  At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, our South Florida homeowners’ insurance attorneys understand that household injuries can result in considerable damages that may negatively impact your future.  We assist injured individuals in seeking the compensation they are entitled to through a homeowners’ insurance claim.

Types of Household Injuries

While most of us do not consider the possibility of being injured when visiting a friend or relative’s house, visitors are at risk of injury due to a number of common household hazards.  Guests in a home may be involved in slip and fall accidents, electrical burns, drownings, and dog attacks.  Any of these accidents may be compensated for through homeowners’ compensation insurance.

Young children are perhaps the most at risk of all visitors.  Many young children drown in backyard pools each year.  Children can also drown in bathtubs and small lakes on the property.  Electrical injuries could happen to anyone, and are most often the result of faulty wires or other hazardous conditions.  Drug overdoses are additionally a common occurrence giving rise to personal injury claims.  Prescription medications which are kept within reach of children or teens may cause death or serious injuries.  Continue reading →

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Miami Homeowners’ Insurance Attorneys Discuss Liability for Dog Bites

Under Florida law, a dog owner is liable for damages their dog inflicts on another under certain circumstances.  Florida law defines a dog owner as any person that harbors, keeps, or has control or custody of the animal.  This is a fairly broad definition that can lead to challenging legal scenarios.  Dog bites are an important issue for homeowners because most dog bite victims will seek compensation through the homeowners’ insurance company.  At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, we understand that homeowners’ insurance claims can be complex.  Our animal liability attorneys discuss below some of the issues that could arise for landlords or individuals who allow others with dogs to stay on their property.

Defining Owner for Homeowners’ Insurance Purposes

To determine liability for a dog bite, it is vital to uncover who owns the dog.  Most of the time, the owner of the dog will be the owner of the home where the dog resides, but there are numerous circumstances when this is not the case.  The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently addressed the issue of at what point, when one person’s dog is housed on the property of another, does the property owner become the “owner” for liability purposes.  The case is as follows: Continue reading →

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Homeowners’ Insurance Lawyers Analyze Drone Coverage Under Homeowners’ Insurance

Recreational drones have risen drastically in popularity the past few years, but questions continue to swirl concerning safety and privacy when it comes to Unmanned Aerial Systems or UAS.  Drones can provide much entertainment and even perform important functions.  They can also inflict damage or violate privacy.  Imagine the scenario in which a drone owner with standard homeowners’ insurance flies his drone and crashes it into his neighbor’s car.  If the neighbor pursues a claim against the drone owner for property damage, is the damage covered under his homeowners’ insurance policy?  More insurance companies are specifically enacting policies to govern this precise issue, as our homeowners’ insurance attorneys discuss below.

Recreational Drone Use Increase 50 Percent

Drone usage has almost exploded overnight.  The Consumer Electronics Association reports that drone sales will increase 50 percent in the next year.  The growth of the industry is due in part to the mass marketing of affordable UAS, along with rapid technological advances that enable companies to make efficient, lightweight, and easy to use drones.  Continue reading →

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Our Miami Homeowners’ Insurance Lawyers Explore Coverage for Break-In Related Damages

Nothing is more frightening than coming home and finding your house has been burglarized, or even worse, being home while someone enters your home illegally.  According to the FBI, there are more than 1.1 million residential burglaries across the United States each year.  Burglaries can result in considerable damages which your homeowners’ insurance may cover.  At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, our homeowners’ insurance lawyers assist homeowners with claims for burglary related damages.  We know that recovering the funds you need for your burglary related damages can be difficult.  With our help, you can rest assured that your claim meets all deadlines and is backed by the evidence you need to support your claim for losses.

Property Damage Due to Burglaries

Break-ins can result in a wide array of damage to your property. Burglars may break doors, windows, and latches.  Burglaries might also break or steal your personal property.  At times, burglaries can even lead to injury of home occupants.  Continue reading →

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Our Homeowners’ Insurance Lawyers Discuss the Laws for Interpreting Policy Language

Insurance policies are notoriously convoluted.  Most people that take out a homeowners’ insurance policy and take the time to review the policy will still have many questions about what is covered and what is not.  Insurance companies draft their policies using complicated wording in order to create plausible ways to deny coverage for damage that otherwise the insured would assume is covered.  Your insurance company banks on the fact that if your claim is denied or minimized using a clause in the policy, you will not question or fight the denial.  In this way, insurance companies save significant funds each year.  At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, our homeowners’ insurance attorneys assist the insured across Florida with their claims.  We help to interpret ambiguous language and advocate for its proper interpretation.

Interpreting Ambiguities in Favor of the Insured

In the Florida Supreme Court case of Washington National Insurance Corporation v. Ruderman, the high court clarified how Florida courts should interpret ambiguous provisions within a homeowners’ insurance policy.  The case came before the Supreme Court through a certified question from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  The court of appeals identified a conflict between two central principles— Continue reading →

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Our Miami Homeowners’ Insurance Lawyers Answer Some of Your Questions

Most homeowners purchase homeowners’ insurance to protect themselves against considerable losses that they may occur in the event of a fire, hurricane, or another disaster.  While homeowners’ insurance offers peace of mind, many homeowners are rudely surprised when they go to file their first claim and it is denied. With so much confusion swirling around homeowners’ insurance, it is understandable that many homeowners have questions about their coverage and homeowners’ insurance claims. Our homeowners’ insurance attorneys answer some of your questions below:

  1. What should I do if my property has been damaged?

Your first step should be contacting your insurance company to report the incident.  You will need to inform the insurance company when the damage occurred, how it happened, and whether the police were contacted (as in the instance of theft).  Once you have reported the damage, you should contact our Miami homeowners’ insurance attorneys for help with your insurance matter. Continue reading →

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