Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. // Property Damage Alternatives to First Party Insurance Claims

red-umbrella-mingling-with-grey-umbrellas-be-different-concept-300x205Making a first party insurance claim is not always the only or even the best option available to a person or corporation whose property has been damaged by wind or rain. (A first party claim is made by a policy holder to his or her own insurance company. These claims are contractual; meaning that they arise out of a contract (the insurance policy) between the insurance company and the policy holder.)

Most first party property damage insurance policies have a deductible. (Deductibles are the amount an insured must pay before the insurance company becomes responsible for making payments under the policy. The deductible amounts can range from $250 to thousands of dollars.)

Making a first party claim may also result in a premium increase. (An insurance premium is the amount of money that an individual or business must pay for an insurance policy.)

Whether the property owner has an alternative to the first party claim depends on the cause of the damage. For example, a manufacturing defect or improper installation may account for a roof leak. In these instances, the better option may be to seek compensation from the responsible third party. The downside to this avenue of recourse is the time, delay, and expense of having to prove fault and damages against a party that is likely to be more hostile than the first party carrier.

One factor that motivates the first party carrier to being more agreeable than a third party is Florida Statute 627.428. This valuable statute assesses attorney’s fees against the first party carrier when it loses a legal dispute against the insured. It is not unusual in such disputes for the attorney’s fees to exceed the amount of the claim. This makes first party carriers think long and hard before getting into a legal tussle with an insured. Another motivating factor is that the first party carrier can go against the third party for reimbursement through a legal mechanism known as subrogation.

Many other factors come into play in making these decisions. For example, construction defect claims are subject to a 10-year statute of repose that requires a lawsuit be brought within 10 years of the occurrence of certain events. Section 95.11(3)(c), Florida Statutes.

Given the numerous variables in dealing with property damage claims, many of them consequential, it is advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced lawyer before making a decision.

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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.

While prompt resolution of your legal matter is our goal, our approach is fundamentally different. Our clients are “people” and not “cases” or “files.” We take the time to build a relationship with our clients, realizing that only through meaningful interaction can we best serve their needs. In this manner, we have been able to best help those requiring legal representation.