When Should You Sue Your Homeowners Insurer for Storm Damage?
Imagine that in 2017, after Hurricane Irma came through Florida, your home or commercial property sustained roof damage from Hurricane Irma’s 90 mile per hour winds. During this hurricane, many areas in Florida saw sustained winds, but did not experience substantial rainfall that is common in most hurricanes. Now imagine days later, after Hurricane Irma has moved through Florida, your property is hit with substantial rains during a typical Florida thunderstorm. Given that your roof was already damaged during Hurricane Irma, the water from the subsequent rainstorm allows large amounts of water to enter your home or office, causing considerable damage.
The above scenario happened to many homeowners and business owners in Florida in 2017. Hurricane Irma’s winds damaged roofs throughout Florida, however, in many instances water damage did not occur in the properties until days later when thunderstorms rolled through.
Many homeowners policies cover water damage to the home from “wind driven rain.” Like the name suggests, damage from wind driven rain occurs when the wind creates an opening in the home that allows water to enter and damage the property. Insurers, however, are not always willing to cover losses caused by wind driven rain. It is not uncommon for an insurer to deny a property damage claim if it believes the water damage within the home was caused by wear and tear instead of wind. The problem, however, is many homeowners know that their home never leaked before the hurricane came through. Said another way, the wear and tear never allowed water to damage the home until an opening was created by strong winds.
If your homeowners insurer has wrongfully denied your claim, Florida law allows you to sue your insurer for damages and recover attorneys fees. Insurers sometimes deny claims, alleging that the water damage was caused by wear and tear, without first hiring an engineer to determine the source of the water damage. If your insurer has wrongfully denied coverage for a property damage claim, the insurer may be liable for damages arising under breach of contract.
Jason Cornell is a Florida attorney who represents homeowners whose insurers have wrongfully denied property damage claims. You can reach Jason at 561 616-3333, or firstname.lastname@example.org.