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Real estate Q&A: If insurer denies full payout of Hurricane Irma claim, exercise patience, persistence

Gary M. Singer, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Q: We sustained some damage from Hurricane Irma. Our insurance company does not seem to want to pay us for all of the damage. What can we do? – Dean

A: Dealing with your insurance company is a process with many rules and you must successfully manage this process to get the benefits you paid for.

You should carefully read your policy and follow the details to the letter. It is important that you cooperate with all of your insurance company's reasonable requests, no matter how frustrating it becomes.

You should create a journal containing all communication, along with pictures, receipts, a contact list of everyone you deal with including contractors and adjusters, and any other important information – there is no such thing as too much information. It is best to communicate in writing, rather than by a recorded verbal statement so that you have time to include all the necessary details. If you have any phone calls with your insurance company, follow it up with a fax or email summarizing what you spoke about.

Your insurance company may request that you make a sworn statement and will deny your claim if you refuse.

It is a good idea to hire an experienced attorney who can attend this important meeting with you. You must also comply with all requests for more information. Again, reply in writing and do your very best to cooperate.

While most claims are easily paid after dealing with some red tape, sometimes the process does not go well. This is where all your preparation and journaling will show its value. Florida law makes most insurance companies pay your attorney directly if it underpays or wrongfully denies your claim, so many attorneys who practice in this area will accept your case with little or no out of pocket costs to you. It has been my experience that when dealing with your insurance company, preparation and persistence will pay off.

About The Writer

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.

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