Coming home to find a busted pipe has flooded your home is one of the biggest disasters a homeowner can face. Being mistreated by your insurance company can add insult to injury and can cost a South Florida homeowner tens of thousands of dollars.
Our Miami insurance dispute lawyers handle busted pipe claims for homeowners. Our attorneys represented insurance companies before 2006, when we opened a firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of consumers. We understand how insurance companies work. And we have the knowledge and experience necessary to represent homeowners in disputes over an insurance claim.
In some cases, an insurance company may try to claim a busted pipe claim is not covered because it falls under flood insurance. In other cases, the insurer may claim negligence, Act of God or any other means at its disposal to deny a claim and discourage a homeowner from re-filing. The reality is that, aside from a fire, hurricane or other disaster, busted pipe claims can be among the most costly for an insurer to pay.
A homeowner’s failure to pursue a claim can leave a property in severe distress. Aside from the immediate problems, future mold and mildew issues can even render a house unsellable and can have a devastating impact on the long-term financial well-being of you and your family. Depending on the severity of flooding, it may even compromise a home’s foundation or otherwise make it structurally unsound.
In still other cases, a water main or other outdoor pipe may bust, thereby flooding your property. In such cases, an adjacent homeowner, city or municipality may be responsible for making you whole. Such circumstances may not alleviate your homeowner’s insurance of responsibility — the insurer may need to pay your claim and then pursue the at-fault party.
In any of the above circumstances, a bad-faith insurance claim may be brought if it is determined that your insurance company is not treating you fairly and in accordance with its obligations as determined by your insurance policy. If bad-faith on the part of an insurance company is proven, the policy limits can become irrelevant and an insurance company can be liable for the entire amount of damages allowed by law or ordered by a jury verdict.
In theory, the threat of limitless damages under bad-faith law is meant to keep insurance companies honest. In reality, as is so often the case, it only matters if you consult with an attorney who has the knowledge, experience and ability to enforce the law and protect your rights.
Conversely, it is incumbent upon the homeowner to understand policy limits as it relates to water damage, mold contamination and other issues. Frequently, insurers are excluding mold coverage altogether. Often, additional coverage can be purchased for a modest sum if a homeowner takes the time to determine what coverage is needed to protect against such eventualities.
While insurance companies may exclude sewer backups on some standard policies (coverage can be added in most cases for a modest sum), damage caused by broken pipes is typically covered. However, the devil is often in the details. An insurance company may refuse to pay for the pipe repair, citing normal wear and tear or maintenance clauses or exclusions. Damage in a house left unlivable may not be covered to the extent it is caused by a delay in fixing the problem. And, as previously discussed, mold and mildew is an entirely separate issue upon which whole books could be written.
If you are facing a dispute over an insurance claim in Florida, contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP toll free at 866-518-2913 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.