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Interpreting Ambiguities in Your Homeowners’ Insurance Policy

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—

  1. When reviewing an insurance policy, any ambiguities should be construed in favor of the insured; and
  2. Courts cannot use extrinsic evidence to determine the meaning of a contract unless there is ambiguity within the contract itself.

The court of appeals asked, in reviewing these principals, whether it should review other documents to clarify an ambiguity or just accept the meaning the insured reasonably believes it has?  In the majority decision, the Supreme Court held that once a policy has been determined to be ambiguous, it should be construed in favor of the insured so long as the insured’s interpretation is reasonable.  Accordingly, extrinsic evidence should be ignored when resolving ambiguous language within the policy.

This is an important case for homeowners in Florida and one that has a positive protective effect on homeowners’ insurance claims.  Homeowners with issues concerning their policy should consult with our Miami homeowners’ insurance attorneys as soon as possible.  Our firm will review your policy and assist you in assessing whether the policy contains ambiguous language.  If your claim has been denied based on language that you feel was improperly interpreted for use against you, our firm can help.  Denial of your homeowners’ insurance claim is an obstacle, but not one that cannot be surmounted with the help of experienced legal counsel.

Contact the South Florida Homeowners’ Insurance Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation!

Insurance policies can be confusing and purposefully vague.  When an ambiguity exists in your policy, it is essential that you fight to see that the clause is interpreted in your favor.  For assistance with your homeowners’ insurance claim, please contact the Miami Homeowners’ Insurance Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano.  Our attorney team provides experienced representation for individuals struggling with their homeowners’ insurance matters.  At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, we bring over 130 years of combined professional experience to your case.  Our skilled law firm understands that homeowners’ insurance claims are complex.  We provide the knowledge assistance you need to obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.   We have the honor of receiving an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and were named a Top South Florida Law Firm by the Miami Herald.  Call us today at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 to schedule your free consultation.  You can also contact us online.


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