Floridians enjoy beautiful weather, breathtaking beaches and a thriving cultural scene. But, even in Florida, the sun cannot always shine: regional threats like hurricanes, sinkholes and water damage periodically wreak havoc on Florida structures.
After diligently paying their premiums month after month, most homeowners have peace of mind knowing that their insurance company will be there for them should disaster strike. Unbeknownst to them, this trust may be sorely misplaced. Some insurers may arbitrarily or systematically deny valid claims, forcing policy holders to fight tooth and nail to collect the payment they deserve.
Florida Peninsula Insurance Company bears a special responsibility for homeowner insurance claim denial. Since its inception as a private insurer in 2005, Florida Peninsula has left many of its customers with few options after denying their claims; the company has even been held responsible in court for the improper denial of claims.
Despite Healthy Insurance Industry Profits, Staggering Rate Increases, Valid Florida Claims Still Denied
Even in this battered economy, insurers are posting heavy profits. Over the last decade, the property/casualty insurance industry has had average annual profits in excess of $30 billion. According to the Insurance Information Institute, overall net income for property insurance companies after taxes was $34.7 billion in 2010. Compared to other businesses, insurance appears to be booming: the median insurance CEO's cash compensation leads all other industries at $1.6 million a year.
Yet, the thriving insurance business does not always pass savings on to consumers. For instance, Florida Peninsula recently asked the Office of Insurance Regulation to approve a rate increase of over 90 percent in Monroe County. This increase would mean premiums would nearly double for some 4,000 Florida property owners, many of whom have no other insurance options (Citizens Property Insurance Co., a quasi-government insurer of last resort, paid Florida Peninsula to take over certain policies without policyholders' knowledge or consent).
With profits up, and premiums climbing higher, customers should at least be able to count on their insurance companies to follow through during a time of crisis. But, all too often, insurers fall short of consumer expectations.
A Florida Insurer's Bad Faith Leads to Big Payouts for at Least One Insured
Florida Peninsula Insurance has been hauled into court and forced to pay damage claims it initially denied. For example, in the recently-concluded case Estate of Raymond Obert v. Florida Peninsula, Florida Peninsula denied a claim relating to a burst water main. The home in question was saturated with over 95,000 gallons of water that caused more than $100,000 in damage.
After weeks of legal wrangling, Florida Peninsula begrudgingly agreed to a settlement offer under which they would have to pay more than $100,000 as compensation for the damage and would accept the court's decision in determining their responsibility for attorneys' fees. Yet, even after making this agreement, Florida Peninsula fought the award of attorney fees for half a year.
In the end, the plaintiff did not have to pay a dime towards the resolution of the case: the judge awarded full attorneys' fees against Florida Peninsula - a fair outcome, considering Florida Peninsula unfairly denied the claim in the first place.
Do Not Give In When Claims Denied By Florida Peninsula or Other Insurers
Even though some 10 percent of insurance claims are unjustly denied, less than one percent of claimants even bother to question their insurance company about a denied claim. Giving up after an initial denial can be a costly mistake: most policy holders who contest a denied claim either end up ultimately winning the case or securing better settlement terms.
If your insurance claim has been denied, there are a few steps you should take to ensure you are not being treated unfairly. Contact your insurer and insist on a written explanation for why your claim was denied. Carefully review your policy, making note of any provisions that seem unjust, confusing or ambiguous. And, do not allow your insurer to talk you out of pursuing a potentially valid claim - trust your sense of fairness and speak with an experience Florida insurance claims attorney. If something about how your claim has been handled does not seem fair to you, chances are the applicable law will support your position.
Contacting a Florida attorney experienced in handling insurance claims may be your most important step. Your attorney will help you get bigger settlements, better trial results and may even be able to force your insurer to pay your legal fees.
Over 120,000 homeowners and renters are insured by Florida Peninsula. If you are among those who have had trouble getting Florida Peninsula to properly address your claim, get in touch with an insurance claims attorney today.