Insurance Lawyer in St. Augustine, FL

Mortgage companies won’t make a loan or finance a residential real estate transaction without insurance coverage for the full or fair value of a property or its purchase price. 

FL homeowners insurance can help cover your home from damages. Even landlords require their tenants to maintain renters insurance coverage. If you’re unsure of what’s covered in your homeowner’s policy, then you may need to speak with a St. Augustine insurance lawyer or read on for more information about your insurance needs.

Homeowners Insurance St Augustine, FL

Homeowners’ insurance coverage options generally protect against destruction and damage to a residence’s interior and exterior, the loss or theft of possessions, and personal liability coverage for harm to others.

There are three basic levels of insurance coverage:

  • Actual cash value
  • Replacement cost
  • Extended replacement cost and value. 

Insurance rates are normally determined by the risk associated with the past claim history of your home, neighborhood, and your home’s current condition. When shopping for the lowest rates, it’s important to compare rates or develop a custom policy when you have specific needs that might not be covered. 

Sometimes the best rates come from your existing insurer because current clients get better deals. Read on for more information about choosing the right policy and how a St. Augustine homeowners insurance lawyer can assist you.

Insurance Claim Denials

Insurance companies can deny your claim, refuse to pay, make inadequate settlement offers, or completely ignore your claim. St. Augustine homeowners insurance experts recommend working with a trained home insurance law professional when your insurer denies your claim request.

Disputes often arise because insurers deny claims without explanation. Some insurance companies routinely deny claims and only act when there are looming legal consequences. Even the best homeowners’ insurance companies offer policies that exclude certain types of claims. If that is your case, an experienced St. Augustine, FL insurance attorney can communicate to your insurers that you need money for the damage caused. 

How Insurance Coverage Attorneys Help

Insurance lawyers provide legal services that focus on insurance contracts.  They evaluate how much is covered under your specific insurance policies and provide legal guidance on general insurance, gap coverage, surety bonds, and access insurance.

Insurance attorneys typically work in insurance coverage cases involving medical malpractice, construction defects, premises liability, fires, floods, and earthquakes. Many St. Augustine, FL insurance coverage attorneys understand personal injury law and will help people when the auto accident insurance doesn’t return their calls. 

Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, but Johns County insurance claims adjusters want to be known for providing great coverage and affordable insurance rates. However, even if they offer you a free quote or a discount, they want to protect their company’s bottom line. 

Speak with an experienced insurance law attorney when your provider has ignored or denied a valid claim or made a lowball settlement offer for far less than your claim is worth. Our St. Augustine insurance lawyers at Florida Home Claim, P.A. specialize in residential, commercial, and insurance claims. We help clients get the maximum compensation for their damages. Schedule your free consultation today! 

Types of Homeowners Coverage

Whether you’re buying a home, townhouse, or condo, insurance provides a variety of options for the coverages you require. Florida residents are advised to purchase adequate protection for: 

  • Their personal property within their home
  • Their entire home
  • The other structures on the property, such as fences or sheds
  • Living expenses should you have to move out of your home temporarily due to a natural disaster or other emergencies

Some homeowners choose personal liability coverage to pay legal and medical expenses if someone is injured on their property. It’s important for homeowners to remember that all coverages are not interchangeable, and they often get what they pay for. 

In the U.S., there are several forms of homeowners’ insurance designated HO-1 through HO-8. These policies offer varying levels of protection depending on the homeowner’s needs and the type of residence. The three levels of coverage are as follows:

Actual Cash Value

Actual cash value covers the cost of your house plus the value of your belongings after deducting depreciation

Replacement Policies

Replacement value policies cover the actual cash value of your home and possessions without the depreciation deduction. This allows homeowners to repair and rebuild their homes to its original value.

Guaranteed (or extended) Replacement Cost/Value

Extended or guaranteed replacement cost/value coverage is the most comprehensive coverage. These types of policies pay whatever it costs to rebuild your home. This policy covers the costs even when the total costs of your repairs exceed your policy limit. Some insurers offer an extended replacement, but there is typically a ceiling to their coverages. 

Many homeowners make the mistake of insuring just enough to cover their mortgage. However, inflation and supply chain shortages are causing the price of construction goods to rise. This means that it could cost more to repair your home in the future than what you initially paid for it. 

The type of coverage you select shouldn’t matter when the damages fall within the parameters of your policies. However, guaranteed replacement value policies will absorb the increased replacement costs and provide the homeowner with a cushion as construction prices increase. 

Homeowners’ Insurance Provisions

Homeowners’ policies are totally customizable. Each policy has elements that stipulate what your insurance covers. Florida companies typically insure the following: 

Interior or Exterior Damage

If your home has suffered damage due to fire, hurricanes, lightning, or vandalism, then your insurer can compensate you for the damages covered in your policy. Clothing, furniture, appliances, and the contents of your home are covered when they’re destroyed in an insured disaster. 

Many policyholders elect to put their high-priced possessions like fine art, antiques, and jewelry on a separate rider to cover them in an itemized schedule, or by purchasing a separate policy.

Homeowners can get discounts for installing items that can help protect their homes. For example, wind mitigation discounts protect your home and decrease the damage caused by strong winds. This equipment often includes roof attachments and coverings, extra water-resistant seals, and impact-resistant doors and windows. 

Personal Liability for Damage or Injuries

Liability coverage generally protects you from lawsuits filed by others. This clause could even include your pets in case they attack someone. These policies generally protect homeowners when accidents happen to visitors on their property. 

Hotel or House Rental

Additional living expenses coverage reimburses you for the rent, hotel rooms, restaurant meals, and other incidental costs while waiting for your home to be repaired or replaced. These kinds of policies impose strict daily and total limits. Of course, you can expand those daily limits if you or your St Augustine, FL business is willing to pay more in coverage. 

What Isn’t Covered by Homeowners’ Insurance?

Destruction from floods, earthquakes, and poor home maintenance is usually not covered.  Homeowners surprisingly learn that they may require separate riders for these services every year.  

Flood insurance is a separate coverage, and insurance attorneys can assist you in identifying your flood zone and discussing flood, wind mitigation, and other inclement weather services. 

Detached garages, sheds, and other structures on the property also have to be covered separately. Natural disasters or other “acts of God” and acts of war are often not covered and can lead to disputes.

If you live in a flood or hurricane area or an area with a history of earthquakes, consider separate riders for them or an extra policy for earthquake or flood insurance. Sewage drain and identity recovery coverage are popular add-ons for many homeowners. 

Eighty Percent Rule

Many insurance companies operate under the 80% rule. This rule states that an insurer will only cover the cost of the damage to a house if the owner has purchased insurance coverage equal to at least 80% of the house’s total replacement value.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, most insurance companies provide coverage for 50% to 70% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. If you’re not getting the proper amount of insurance for your St. Augustine, FL home or business, then request a free consultation with a professional insurance legal service today. 

How much is homeowners’ insurance in St Augustine, FL?

The average price of homeowners’ insurance in St. Augustine is $344 annually for one $50,000 home, meaning St. Augustine’s residents can enjoy inexpensive homeowners’ insurance coverage.

However, the rate you pay will vary depending on the details of your house. Whether it’s State Farm or USAA, the service you choose will also play a role in what rate you pay. Insurance customers often compare rates to lower their payments or switch accounts to take advantage of trends in the industry. St Augustine, FL residents and residents in the rest of Florida typically pay 5% more per year on average.

Disputing a Home Insurance Settlement Offer

If you’ve filed a homeowners’ insurance claim because your insurance needs have not been met or you think you’ve been wrongfully denied access to your insurance policy, you have options. 

Insurers act as though they want claimants to put their life on hold. That’s why we’ll work with our clients to present additional evidence for cases involving their St. Augustine homeowners’ insurance policies. We will also use the following steps to help you dispute a low home insurance settlement: 

Contacting Your Home Insurance Agent

Before you contact your insurance agent or home insurance company to dispute a claim, you should review the claim you initially filed. Consider if there is any way to improve the quality of evidence showing damage or loss, which can have a significant impact on the settlement.

Ask if your claim can be reviewed again based on the new evidence or if the adjuster can reexamine the damaged or lost property. Mistakes happen, and it’s possible the adjuster miscalculated the estimate. 

Independent Appraisals

Hiring your own appraiser or public insurance adjuster allows you to get an independent estimate for the damage you’re trying to repair. Sometimes the discrepancy in the claim settlement is equal to the cost of the independent appraisal, meaning it can be more cost-effective to take the settlement.

However, getting a second opinion can help you confirm the accuracy of your insurance company’s settlement offer and provide leverage for raising it. Contacting your agent and informing your claims department about the independent estimate could open you up to more damages.

Filing A Complaint

If you cannot reach an agreement on a claim with your home insurer, you can file a complaint with the state and seek legal remedy through an attorney. Policyholders may also report mistreatment or bad business practices to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation

Insurance law is complex, and the last thing you want is for your insurer to leave you vulnerable when you need their help. If you need compensation and you’re facing a denial, delay, or undervaluing of your claim, then you have the right to take legal action. 

If you are involved in an insurance dispute or your insurer is not treating you fairly, contact Florida Home Claim P.A. for a free consultation.