Home insurance claims aren’t always one-and-done. Many accidents or natural disasters can cause damage that isn’t noticeable right away. That can cause problems if you accept your insurance company’s settlement, then find related damage long after your case is closed.
You’re not out of luck, though. Florida law allows you to reopen insurance claims up to five years later if there is something you or your insurer missed. We’ve broken down why your claim might be closed, why you may need to reopen it, and how you can reopen your Florida home insurance case and get full compensation.
Why Are Home Insurance Claims Closed?
Insurance companies close claims when they believe the process is complete and there’s nothing more to do. In most cases, claims are closed for one of the following reasons:
- The insurer and the claimant agree that the claim has been paid in full.
- The insurer has denied the claim, and the claimant has not filed a dispute within the allotted time
- The claimant has not responded to the insurer with the necessary information to move the process forward in the allotted time.
Closing a claim makes it inactive. Unless it’s reopened, the insurance agency will not perform any further investigation, communication, or payments related to it. It is the responsibility of the claimant to take action if it was closed incorrectly.
Why Reopen a Home Insurance Claim?
There are many reasons you may need to reopen an insurance claim, such as:
- You discovered damage after you agreed to close the case. If your property has experienced a burst pipe, hurricane, or flood damage, you could find mold problems directly related to that water damage years later. Similarly, you may not find out about harm to your home’s structure for months after a fire. You simply may have forgotten to list certain personal property on your initial claim and realize later that you failed to get reimbursed for it. All of these situations are grounds to reopen your claim.
- Your insurer reimbursed you incorrectly. Similarly, you may find that your insurer made a mistake in paying you after the fact. For instance, you may reread your policy and realize that you were reimbursed for the actual cost value instead of the replacement cost of your personal property. You might notice that your insurance agent failed to consider a policy rider when calculating your payments and underpaid you. Situations like these are the reason why reopening claims is permitted.
- Your insurer denied and closed your claim incorrectly. In some instances, your insurer may attempt to deny you outright and close it before you have a chance to respond. This may occur due to a filing error on your end or bad faith by the company. Regardless, you have the right to reopen the case and make sure your insurance company gives it due consideration.
How to Reopen Your Closed Claim
If you want to reopen a closed claim, make sure you understand how the process works. Mistakes can cost valuable time and may prevent you from reopening the case before the time limit is up. Here’s how to ensure your case is successfully reopened and reconsidered the first time.
Consult With Qualified Insurance Attorneys
Before taking action, you should discuss your closed claim with an experienced insurance lawyer. Reopening a claim and reconsidering it can take some work, so it’s worthwhile to check whether it’s worth the effort.
Having an insurance attorney review your case can make all the difference. Your lawyer will explain your policy and help you understand what is covered and what isn’t. They will also examine the payments or communications sent by your insurer to determine if they upheld their contractual and legal obligations toward you. If you have been underpaid or unfairly denied, they will guide you through the rest of the steps to give you the best possible chance of receiving fair compensation.
Collect Evidence for Your Case
If your attorney believes you’re eligible to reopen your claim, they will help you gather the evidence needed to have it reconsidered. This will likely include:
- A copy of your insurance policy and contract
- All communication you’ve received about your claim
- Proof of your initial claim and any new damage you have found since
- Receipts and contracts showcasing how much you spent to repair and replace damaged items
Schedule a Meeting With an Adjuster
The Florida Department of Insurance requires all people reopening claims to meet with a public adjuster to discuss their case. You will schedule a meeting where the adjuster will come to your home and review the evidence you collected regarding your claim.
If the adjuster agrees that the case can be reopened, they will create an estimate of the damages and send this to your insurance company. The company will then come and inspect your home again as well.
Pursue Mediation, Appraisal, or Litigation
Once your claim is reopened, you may be able to choose one of three options for resolving the situation: mediation, appraisal, and litigation.
- Mediation involves sitting down with the insurer to negotiate a fair settlement.
- Appraisal involves having independent appraisers identify the costs involved in high-value claims.
- Litigation occurs if you and the insurance company can’t find an agreement or if you believe the insurer is acting in bad faith.
Your attorney will help you choose the best, most efficient solution for resolving your reopened case.
Get Help Reopening Your Claim With the Professional Law Group
Reopening a claim can be intimidating, but that shouldn’t prevent you from pursuing just compensation from your insurer. With the right help, you can open closed claims up to five years later to ensure you get the funds you’re owed.
At the Professional Law Group, that help is our specialty. We offer free case reviews to people throughout Florida. We will sit down with you and discuss your case, review your policy, and help you determine if your claim was closed before you received all due compensation. If so, we will guide you through the rest of the process. Schedule your free case review today to get started.