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.”
Such a decision seems absurd, as almost anything could then be considered “marring,” and therefore excluded under a homeowner’s insurance policy. Under the current case law, insurance companies can now throw anything into the category of “marring” and successfully deny a homeowner’s insurance claim. There doesn’t seem to be any scenario where an insurance company will pay a claim. If this is the case, then there’s no purpose to indicate in a homeowner’s policy that coverage for broken tiles exists in some circumstances.
For example, let’s say a storm causes damage to your tile. The damage caused by the storm could be considered “marring” under Ergas, as the damage certainly destroys or disfigures the tile, just as a hammer would. Obviously, this example is extreme and a homeowner could likely recover under another clause of the insurance policy, but the point is made clear that insurance companies now have free range to use the “marring” exclusion to apply to nearly any situation where tiles are damaged, destroyed or disfigured, which is the general definition of marring that can arise from so many different situations, whether the damage is intentional or not.
Will The Law Change Again?
Given that insurance companies are aware of just how troubling the Ergas decision is, and the amount of lawsuits that are being filed in regards to denied broken tile claims, it is hopeful that the law will change. Other Florida appellate courts have reached the same conclusion as Ergas, and the issue is now pending before the Florida Supreme Court. While the issue currently is limited to dropped objects and how this is considered “marring” under a homeowner’s insurance policy, the issue is broader as there are now ways for insurance companies to take advantage of such friendly court decisions to outright deny claims simply because the law allows for it.
If your insurance company has denied your broken tile claim, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced homeowner’s insurance claims attorney will determine if there’s a way to avoid the harsh result of the Ergas decision, in addition to other equally harmful Florida appellate court decisions.
Contact Our Miami Broken Tiles Claims Attorneys Today For A Free Consultation
The Miami Broken Tiles Claims Lawyers of Greenberg Stone and Urbano have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully helping clients collect under their homeowner’s insurance policies. Our attorneys will fight to ensure you are not the victim of a bad faith denial of a broken tile claim under your homeowner’s insurance policy. Our attorneys have been voted “South Florida’s Top Rated Lawyers” by the Miami Herald, have been rated “AV” by Martindale Hubbell, and have been named “Superlawyers,” labeling them as some of the best lawyers in America. The Miami Broken Tiles Claims Lawyers of Greenberg Stone and Urbano have also been invited to be members of Primerus, an international society of leading law firms. Call Greenberg Stone and Urbano today to schedule your free consultation to evaluate your potential claim with one of our attorneys. You may contact us through our website or call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400.