So, they had a catchy slogan that made you expect that when disaster struck they would be neighborly, or stand beside you, or take everything into their good, capable hands. But now that you need them to defend or pay your claim, does it feel like your good neighbor has packed up and left the barrio? Know that Florida has tough laws to protect consumers against insurance company misconduct like refusing to defend you when you make a claim; unreasonably delaying the payment of your claim or improperly dropping your coverage without reason or warning. Also know that insurance companies don’t want you to know that you have these protections. So here’s what they’re not telling you:
For most types of insurance claims insurance companies are required to pay you interest if your claim payment is more than 30 to 60 days overdue.
If your claim payment was unreasonably delayed, check that interest was also paid. If a claim is made against you, immediately notify your insurance company to accept and defend the claim.If they refuse to defend the claim or ignore it, know that they may have to pay your attorney’s fees if you hire a lawyer to challenge them.
If your claim is denied, delayed or underpaid, have a lawyer look at it – FOR FREE. Most lawyers handling insurance cases will work on a percentage of what they recover and don’t charge any upfront fees or retainer. Better yet, in many cases the insurance company may be have to pay your attorney’s fees ON TOP OF YOUR recovery, meaning the lawyer charges you nothing. A good attorney will know what to look for and will generally look for free – so ask!
The important thing to remember is you don’t have to stand there and take “nobody’s home” for an answer. So don’t get frustrated, get a lawyer.
Russel Lazega is an attorney who represents consumers and policy holders in disputes with their insurance companies. He is also the author of several of Florida’s leading legal textbooks on insurance law. He can be reached at Russ@lazegalaw.com.