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.
In analyzing the insured’s request, the trial court assumed based on the prior 3rd District Court of Appeals case Citizens Property Insurance Corp. v. Mango Hill Condominium Association that an order compelling appraisal could be based on less than full compliance with post-loss duties under a homeowners policy. In Mango Hill, the court reversed an order compelling appraisal and remanded the case to the trial court. The trial court was directed to conduct an evidentiary hearing to evaluate the facts of the case to decide if the insured adequately complied with post-loss obligations.
However, the 3rd DCA in Xirinachs observed that the trial court did not have the benefit of a subsequent 3rd DCA decision in State Farm Insurance Company v. Cardellas. The court in Cardellas clarified that ALL post-lost conditions must be satisfied before the insured can seek an order compelling appraisal. The court indicated that when Mango Hill was read in light of Cardellas, the requirement of “sufficient compliance” was to be understood “to require that all post-loss obligations be satisfied before the trial court can properly exercise discretion to compel appraisal.”
The court then applied this clarified standard to the facts of the Xirinachs’ request for an order compelling appraisal. The court noted that the homeowners failed to take proper steps to mitigate further damage or to provide documentation to facilitate processing the claim as required by the policy. Given this failure to comply with post-loss conditions, the court reversed the order requiring an appraisal.
Every homeowners policy contains conditions that must be fulfilled before an insurance company is required to pay a claim. Failure to satisfy these post-loss conditions can prevent homeowners who have suffered a devastating loss from receiving benefits under a policy. The harsh consequences of failing to satisfy post-loss conditions in an insurance policy make it imperative that homeowners carefully review and understand all of the policy’s terms and conditions. Policyholders should comply with all conditions to prevent the insurer from pointing to unfulfilled conditions as a basis for denying the claim. If you submit a claim, the insurance company might inaccurately contend that you did not properly perform all tasks required by the language of the policy.
Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Policyholders from Homeowner’s Insurance Companies
Our Miami homeowners insurance claims attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted homeowners faced with insurance companies refusing to pay valid claims. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages. Our skill and dedication have earned us an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.