When you’ve lost your Florida home or business to a devastating fire, the last thing you want to do is fight with your insurance company for compensation. Unfortunately, residential and commercial insurers often make the claims process unnecessarily difficult, especially when a damage claim is worth a lot of money.
The MIC Firm has helped countless property owners across Florida recover from catastrophic fire losses. Whether something in the property ignited the flames or it was consumed by a wildfire, a Florida fire insurance claims lawyer at our firm will support and protect your right to compensation. When your insurance carrier doesn’t honor its obligations, we will investigate and help you take legal action if necessary.
Common Causes of Florida Property Fires
Fire damage is one of the top reasons why Florida property owners file insurance claims. These claims also tend to be among the most expensive, with $80,000 being the average. When a fire causes extensive surface and structural damage, most owners can’t afford to repair it without the financial support of their insurance policy.
Common causes of property fires include:
- Wildfires: The number of wildfires in Florida every year is second only to California. In 2021, 652 fires burned over 8,500 acres across the state, consuming property as well as wilderness.
- Cooking: Cooking fires account for 48% of all reported residential fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association’s Home Structure Fires 2019 Report, it is also the leading cause of home fire injuries. Most cooking fires occur over the Thanksgiving holiday.
- Heating: Portable heaters are the second-leading cause of home fires. They have certain spatial requirements and can easily ignite curtains and other items that come within range.
- Electrical Fires: Electrical outlets and faulty wiring are responsible for many household fires. The Electrical Safety Foundation International reports that electrical fires cause more than 51,000 house fires every year.
- Smoking: While cigarettes, cigars, and pipes cause a small percentage of building fires, they are still the leading cause of fire-related death.
- Candles: One-third of all house fires started by candles occur in bedrooms. Approximately 21 candle fires are reported every day across the country, resulting in 6% of home fire injuries.
Regardless of what caused it, you can claim certain damages after a fire caused by an event named in your insurance policy. If your insurer disputes these claims or underpays them, our insurance dispute attorneys can assist you in pursuing the compensation you deserve.
Common Types of Property Fire Damage in Florida
Nearly 33% of property damage claims arise due to fires, and the damage can be extremely intense. Examples include:
- Roof and/or structural damage
- Damaged appliances and electrical items
- Damaged electrical systems and plumbing systems
- Destroyed furniture and personal belongings
- Foundation damage
- Smoke and chemical odor
- Cracked or broken windows
- Damaged motor vehicles
- Mold damage
- Water damage
- Loss of business income
Property owners facing losses of this magnitude often have to contend with insurance companies that may only offer them a low settlement or, even worse, accuse them of policy violations or even arson to avoid paying.
If you’re dealing with an insurer who appears to be acting in bad faith, a Florida fire insurance claims lawyer at the MIC Firm can fight to recover the money you’re owed. We will help ensure that all of your covered losses are accurately listed and valued and take your case to court if the insurer sticks with a lowball offer.
The Fire Insurance Claims Process in Florida
You’ll want to notify your insurer about the fire damage as soon as possible. Your policy may indicate the type of evidence and receipts you’ll need to submit, but in general, you’ll want to include:
- Damage repair estimates
- A list of damaged or destroyed property, along with proof of value
- Pictures and video footage of the property before and after the fire
- Receipts for expenses such as debris removal, temporary roofing, and water
- Receipts for displacement expenses such as hotel stays and temporary housing rentals
In general, Florida insurance companies have 90 days to let you know if they have accepted or denied your claim. If your insurance provider approves your claim, they must pay you within 20 days. Your payout will accrue interest at a rate of 12% per year if they do not pay within this timeframe.
Your provider is more likely to use the full three-month limit on a large claim, so they have as much time as possible to find ways to reduce your payout. Be wary of claim denials that give vague reasons or don’t give any reasons at all, as this could indicate bad faith insurance practices.
Your Fire Insurance Claim Was Denied! What’s Next?
There are many potential reasons why an insurance company might deny a claim. Sometimes the reason is valid: for example, you failed to submit your information within the required time frame. Other times, they make an honest mistake. Unfortunately, some insurers deny claims without even investigating or, even worse, accuse the property owner of fraud.
Below are some of the most common reasons Florida insurance companies deny fire damage claims.
- Premiums Not Paid: Missing payments or defaulting can cause your policy to lapse. Keep your home insurance payments current to avoid losing coverage when you need it.
- Missed Deadlines: Home insurance claims must be filed and documented within a certain time period. Those who miss the filing deadline may have their claims denied, so check your policy to confirm.
- Information is Misrepresented: The information on your insurance claim forms must be accurate and truthful. If the insurer believes you are not being honest about the type and extent of damage, your claim can be denied.
- Insufficient Documentation: You need to document all damage from the fire. Insufficient documentation is a common reason why homeowners insurance companies deny claims.
- Failing to Secure the Home From Further Damage: The insurance company may deny a claim if the property is not adequately maintained after a covered loss. For instance, if your home sustains wind damage that results in a roof leak and you do nothing to prevent water from entering, you could lose out on your insurance claim.
You need not accept a denial letter from your insurer as final. At the MIC Firm, we can represent you if your insurance company unfairly denies your claim. The premiums you paid are meant to ensure that you have coverage when you need it, and our attorneys stand ready to challenge any wrongful denial.
How Do I Know if My Insurer is Acting in Bad Faith?
Your insurance company has a duty under Florida law to treat you fairly, but it doesn’t always happen. Here are some signs that your insurer may be acting in bad faith:
- Failure to pay you on time and in full
- Denying your claim regardless of its validity
- Using multiple adjusters and experts to prolong an investigation
- Finding an excuse to avoid paying you by twisting the policy language
- Refusal or failure to thoroughly investigate your claim
- Making you a lowball offer
- Promising to pay a claim and then failing to do so
If you have fully cooperated with your insurance company and it declines your claim or sticks to a lowball offer, you may have a claim for bad faith and be entitled to damages. At the MIC Firm, we can help you determine whether your insurer is violating its duty to you as a policyholder and hold them accountable if they are.
How Much Does a Fire Insurance Claims Lawyer Cost?
When a fire at your home or business has left you dealing with a financially devastating loss, you may wonder whether you can afford to hire a lawyer. If your insurer is dragging its heels and you’re having to pay out for temporary accommodation or urgent repairs, you may not believe you have the money to retain legal counsel for your damage claim.
At the MIC Firm, we understand the difficult situation you are in, which is why we offer flexible payment arrangements and, in some instances, accept bad faith insurance claims on contingency. This means that you only pay us if we recover money for you. Schedule a no-obligation consultation to learn how we can help.
Why Should I Hire the MIC Firm?
Many property insurance policies contain complex legal language that is difficult to decipher and understand. An experienced Florida fire insurance claims lawyer can be a valuable ally in helping property owners do the following:
- Submit a complete and accurate claim package
- Dispute claim denials
- Hold insurers accountable for bad faith
At the MIC Firm, we represent property owners who have suffered fire or smoke damage and are able to obtain the compensation they are entitled to under their insurance policies. We have significant experience helping clients who are at various stages of the claim process, including those who have not yet filed their claim as well as those who are experiencing unethical and unfair treatment from insurance company representatives.
Our Florida fire insurance claims lawyers can help you by:
- Explaining your rights as a policyholder
- Having unbiased experts assess the total damage to your property
- Estimating the value of your insurer losses
- Communicating with your insurance company on your behalf
- Fighting for the fair settlement you need
Need Help? Get a Free Consultation From a Florida Fire Insurance Claims Lawyer
An insurance policy is a contract between the policyholder and the insurance company. Sadly, these companies have learned that many of their clients will not fight claim denials or policy cancellations. You will show the insurer you mean business when you have an attorney representing your interests.
The MIC Firm has represented clients in a wide range of property insurance claims, including those arising from smoke or fire damage. Although we try to resolve cases through negotiation whenever possible, we are known for our willingness to take our clients’ cases to trial if necessary. To learn more about what we can do for your claim, contact us today for a free initial consultation.