I am an owner of an investment property that suffered damage
Loss or damage to your investment property may displace tenants, impair your income and cause you to have to monitor repair or remediation efforts far from where you live. We provide the following services which can assist you in this tough time:
Review of your insurance policy
When you made your real estate investment, you likely purchased an insurance policy to cover damage to your structure, to deal with liability to a tenant and to supplement the loss of income if the structure is not inhabitable. In some communities, the property owner's association also carries insurance relating to damage to your property. These policies are written by the insurance industry and can be difficult to navigate. We urge everyone, whether or not you suffered damage during a hurricane, to set a consultation, for a flat fee, to have us review your policy with you. We can explain some of the common traps contained in the policy and direct you to provisions that are buried in the policy which you need to be aware of. Our goal is to give you an understanding of what is insured, what is not insured and your basic obligations under your policy.
Working with you and your insurance adjuster
If you have sustained damage to the property, related structures, are liable to a tenant or suffered damage to the contents of your property, please understand that your insurance adjuster is a trained professional that works for the insurance company. We cannot stress enough that the person sent out to view the damages and the people you speak with are contracted by your insurance company. These are not people who work for you and they do not necessarily work for your benefit. We can help bridge the gap between you and your insurance company. You have paid too much for your insurance to have coverage denied, claims reduced or to take the blame for damages that should be covered by your insurance. Let us help you with this dialogue.
Claims filing and supplementation
Your insurance claims must be timely filed and supplemented as you discover new damage. A frequent excuse for denial of a claim by an insurer is the failure to timely report or discover damage. Let us review the process with you so you can act with the diligence that your policy requires.
Insurance company acting in bad faith
In Florida, the law requires insurers to act in good faith throughout the claims process. If an insurer acts slowly, wrongfully denies coverage, uses improper or deceptive acts or has unqualified personnel perform repairs on your investment, the insurer may be in violation of the Florida bad faith laws. The bad faith laws in Florida are tricky and full of procedural hurdles. We are familiar with this process and can help determine whether you have a viable bad faith claim.
Your investment needs to be secured and your losses mitigated so that you can preserve as much of the house and contents as possible. Will doing work outside of your insurance void your coverage? Will the insurance company reimburse you for these repairs? How does this tie in to your obligations to your tenant? Allow us to guide you on these gray area issues.
The companies hired by my insurance company are not doing the work timely or properly
Insurance companies will have 'preferred providers' to perform repair and remediation work. This does not mean that they are the best or most qualified for the job. They may work slowly, not show up at scheduled times or may do a poor job. Do not accept inferior work and do not accept the 'we will get to you when we get to you' work ethic. We can help push the buttons to move the work along, and, in the event of defective work, can pursue the service providers for corrective action and damages. We can also coordinate with your construction manager or property manager if you are not located in the immediate area.
Someone else is claiming damages on my insurance policy. Is this even possible?
Yes, it is. If a tree from your yard fell on a neighbor's house, you may be liable or your insurance may be pursued by your neighbor or their insurance company. There are infinite scenarios where a third party can file a claim against your insurance for something that happened to their property. Tenants also may have a claim on your policy if damage to their contents occurred. We have experience in dealing with third party claims and knowing the parameters and the process is essential in successfully coping with the liability.
Unlicensed and Troubled Contractors
Unfortunately, people take advantage of those in need. Individuals will look official, act official and have a great sales pitch. We have experience in construction industry licensing, disciplinary actions and construction industry insurance and bonding. Owners who are not residents are particularly at risk since they are not here and have to rely more heavily on what the person soliciting the work tells them. Please consult with us before becoming a victim of an unlicensed, troubled or uninsured contractor.
I want the work done, where do I sign?
Whether it is an insurance company or a contractor, before anyone does work or pays out money, you are going to sign a contract, a waiver, a release or some other form of hard copy or electronic paperwork. The legal ramifications of doing so are tremendous and we find many clients come in after signing documents to find that many of their legal rights and remedies are now gone. Contractors also have the ability to lien your property for work done if the insurance company does not pay them. You may also have tenants that try to contract for work if they believe you are not moving fast enough, imposing certain legal liability on you. We can review documents, releases, waivers and construction contracts with you and explain the legal ramifications of signing these documents, along with setting up measures to minimize the risk of construction liens. We can also assist in the negotiation of contracts with the people and companies doing work on your investment property.
Does it matter that I have a mortgage on my house?
Absolutely. Your mortgage contains complex provisions for what happens in the event of a loss due to a hurricane, and your lender may largely control the process by which your investment is repaired or rebuilt. Your lender may also be an additional insured on your insurance policy. This can slow down or alter the course of your insurance payouts and timely getting the work done. We have experience dealing with lenders in these instances and want to help you navigate the process so that your lender is only exercising the control over the work and insurance proceeds that they are legally entitled to.
I have a property/unit in a community where there is a condo or homeowners association
This may mean there are multiple policies which cover your damages. This also may mean that your association:
- May control the pace and type of work done;
- May tell you who is allowed to do the work;
- May require submittals to the Board or its Committees to approve the proposed work;
- May have the right to inspect the work done; and
- May assess you for work done on limited or general common elements or common areas.
- These concepts and the laws surrounding them are very technical. We have been through this from both the owner's side and the association's side. We can assist you in understanding the process and working with your association on the work for your unit. We can also assist in determining whether or not the assessments you are subject to were properly imposed.
Preservation of evidence of your loss
When you incur a loss, and at each point during the repairs being made, you need to make a record. We can help explain to you the best practices to use to preserve your evidence of the existence of a loss and that the damage was repaired. This is also crucial where repairs are not made properly and we can assist you with that defective construction claim.
Preparing for the next storm or weather event
We have dealt with property and casualty claims and know what steps are prudent and necessary to take. Let us help you in formulating a plan to put you in a better position should you ever suffer another loss due to damage to your property.
Loss of income
Your insurance may cover lost income due to the loss of a tenant or your property being uninhabitable. Your tenant may also have left even if the property was habitable. We can assist you with both a problem tenant and with your insurer to obtain the rent or compensation you may be due.