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  • Writer's pictureKyle Staggs

Understanding Florida's Claim Filing Deadlines



It’s highly important to be aware of the time limits associated with making a Florida property damage claim. Ultimately, it's the owner's responsibility to report a claim to your insurance company in a timely manner. There are also rules that insurance companies must follow concerning the timeline of their communications with you. While there are many pitfalls property owners may fall susceptible to when filing an insurance claim, don't let missing the deadline to file a claim or lawsuit be one of them.  


 

Statute of limitations might seem like a confusing legal term, but it's actually quite simple: it's the window of time during which you must file your claim. The importance of this term can't be overstated. If these deadlines are missed, they often lead to significant consequences for property damage claims, such as case dismissal. 


In Florida, the deadlines for filing property claims can vary depending on the type of insurance policy and the nature of the loss. However, there are general timelines that policyholders should be aware of. The standard homeowner's insurance policy typically requires that a claim be filed within one year of the date of loss. This means that if your property is damaged or destroyed, you have a year from the date of the incident to file a claim with your insurance company.  


In cases of disastrous natural events like hurricanes or sinkholes, different timelines may apply to your policy. It's important to be proactive and understand your coverage. Whether your property loss stems from a natural disaster, negligence, or construction defect, these time limits dictate how long you have to initiate legal proceedings. In most cases, you have 4 years from the date of loss to file a suit if you can't agree upon a settlement.  


Failure to file by the deadline means you could lose your right to compensation. We're here to protect your rights and assets; do not assume you know the specific property damage statute of limitations. Read on to learn more from property claims attorney, Kyle Staggs, Esq. to better understand Florida's insurance claim filing deadlines and how long you have to seek legal assistance. 


For Owner's Filing an Insurance Claim  


There are many things to avoid when filing a claim for property damage; don't let one of them be that you missed the deadline to report the loss to your insurance company.  


When it comes to filing a claim in Florida, timing is of the essence, and failure to respond promptly can significantly jeopardize your claim settlement. Your first step should always be to promptly contact your insurance company soon after the property damage occurs. This is one of your post-loss obligations as the homeowner.  


In Florida, for losses caused by any peril, a claim or reopened claim (but not a supplemental claim) under a property insurance policy—for example, as defined in s.624.604—must be filed with the insurer in accordance with the policy's terms within one year after the date of the loss. When filing a supplemental claim, the deadline extends to 18 months. 


Moving onto repairs — while there isn't a strict timeline for this, proper and prompt attention should always be given to mitigating any type of property damage as quickly as possible. Many insurance policies require homeowners to make reasonable efforts to commence and complete repairs in a timely manner. (This is another of those post-loss obligations.) Thus, it's crucial you adhere to the policy's terms and conditions related to repair efforts. 


An important point to remember is that in cases where you face difficulties with your insurance company or are unsure about the claim process, it's recommended to consult with an experienced Florida property damage attorney. They can offer valuable advice on how to safeguard your rights and ensure your assets are well protected throughout the claim process. 


Time is a critical factor when dealing with property damage claims in Florida. So, take action promptly, diligently adhere to policy rules, and don’t hesitate to seek professional legal counsel when needed. 


For Businesses Submitting a Loss Claim 


While you may be proficient in handling business affairs, dealing with insurance companies over property claims may prove to be both difficult and time-consuming. Business owners: swift action will allow you to preserve any evidence relating to the loss, making it an easier task to establish your company's claim.  


Florida's statute of limitations presently stipulates that notice of a claim (excluding supplemental claims) for loss or damage caused by any peril must be given to the insurer within 1 year after the date of loss. Remember, the date of loss isn't necessarily the date you recognized the damage, rather it is the date when the event causing the damage officially happened. 


As with homeowners, you will need to prepare a 'proof of loss' statement. This is a detailed account of the damage, including a list of damaged items, their value, and any receipts or other documentation that supports these figures. The proof of loss must be submitted to the insurance company within 60 days of the insurer's request. 


You have a business to run, and you may be dealing with property damage and lost revenue while the insurance company works on your claim. This can negatively impact your bottom line. Remember that your business interruption insurance commonly comes with a set coverage limit. This cap represents the highest sum your insurance provider will contribute to a valid claim. Proactively selecting appropriate coverage limits in line with your company's needs is critical, as any financial setbacks surpassing this amount usually fall on the shoulders of the business proprietor. 

 

The business claims process can be complex,  and mistakes can result in a reduced payout or a denied claim. Therefore, it's key to handle each step with care and diligence.   

 

Should you encounter difficulties during the claims process, it's often wise to seek the advice of seasoned property claims legal professionals. We understand the nuances of insurance policies, contact us for professional advice if needed.  


Can the Claim Filing Deadline be Extended in Florida? 


For property damage claims related to fire, theft, vandalism, or other perils, the standard four-year deadline applies. However, if your policy includes a 'loss settlement' provision, you may have additional time to file a lawsuit. This provision typically extends the claim filing deadline to five years from the date of loss. However, there are situations where the proverbial clock may be paused or “tolled.” When you toll the deadline, this means you are extending the time to file your lawsuit for property damage.   


It is highly advisable to promptly submit a claim, however, there are circumstances that may hinder immediate action. Should you attempt to file a claim after the deadline, the insurance company is likely to reject it and invoke the "late notice defense" as stipulated by Florida law.  


Should a home and business owner miss the deadline for filing a claim in Florida, they should first consult with an experienced property claims attorney, such as Kyle Staggs, Esq. A lawyer can provide guidance on the potential legal remedies available. We may be able to demonstrate that there were extenuating circumstances that prevented the timely filing of the insurance claim. These could include situations like a medical emergency, natural disaster, or other unforeseen events. However, it's important to note that insurance companies are not obligated to accept these reasons and may still deny the claim. 


Is There a Different Deadline for Filing a Property Claim in Florida After a Natural Disaster? 


In cases of hurricane damage, Florida law presently extends the claim filing deadline to a two-year window.  And it begins from the date the hurricane made landfall, not from the date you discovered the damage. This extension is designed to accommodate the often extensive and long-lasting damage caused by hurricanes. 


For example, Hurricane Ian made landfall on September 28, 2022, which means property owners have until September 28, 2024, to file their Hurricane Ian Claims. It's important to note that a five-year period to seek legal recourse applies under Florida Statutes § 713.23(1)(e), if you cannot settle the claim through negotiations. 

 

Policyholders have a two-year window from the   'date of loss' to file a hurricane damage claim.  

 

Insurance companies assume that home and business owners are constantly assessing their property for damage immediately after any bad weather event - especially after the hurricanes we experience here. We always recommend to notify the insurance company as quickly as possible. This will show that you are doing your part to protect the property from a future loss related to the issue.  


Loss-related Legal Tip: Hurricane-related claims are very different, as there’s a specific law that requires you to provide timely notice to the insurer. If you don’t file within that time, you may be barred from filing a lawsuit altogether for the damages.  


Are There Other Exceptions to the Standard Timeframe to Submit a Claim?  


Another exception is for sinkhole damage claims. In Florida, policyholders currently have two years from the date of damage to file a sinkhole claim suit. This shorter deadline is due to the potentially rapid and severe nature of sinkhole damage, which can make properties unsafe and even uninhabitable. 


When you're facing a loss, it's crucial to understand these deadlines when filing the initial claim. Keep in mind: once the insurance claim is filed, there may be additional deadlines for submitting supporting documentation, completing repairs, or filing a lawsuit if the claim is denied or underpaid. Therefore, it's always advisable to consult with a knowledgeable property claims attorney like Kyle Staggs, Esq. to ensure you fully understand and comply with all relevant deadlines for your unique policy. 


In Florida, the law assumes bias against the insurance company when a claim is submitted late. Nonetheless, delayed notification does not automatically disqualify you from obtaining compensation. If you have filed a claim late, it is your responsibility to demonstrate that the insurer's investigation was unaffected by the delay. This can typically be proven by showing that the investigation proceeded without any negative impact despite the tardiness of your claim submission. 


How Can I Protect My Rights When Filing a Property Claim in Florida? 


Filing a loss claim requires timing, organization, and a thorough understanding of your insurance policy's fine print. Always keep in mind that the primary aim is to recoup your losses without infringing on your rights as a policyholder.  


There are numerous reasons why an insurance company may try to deny a claim, and the specific reason must be provided to you by the insurance company. Since insurance policies are considered contractual agreements in Florida, it is possible for an insurance company to be in breach of contract if they refuse to pay your claim. If the insurance company has denied your claim, undervalued it, or is delaying payment, home and business owners could explore the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the insurance company. (Within the present statutes of limitations of course.)  


This is one of the options property owners turn to if the insurance company acted in bad faith by not properly investigating the claim, denying the claim without a valid reason, or failing to communicate important information. 


Your claim should be taken seriously, and we're here to help. Florida law currently provides a four-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against an insurance company if a claim is denied or if the business owner is unsatisfied with the settlement offer. Don’t forget that this period begins from the date of loss. 


If you're grappling with the runaround from your insurer, you have resources available to help you reach a fair settlement for your property damage claim. You don't deal with a loss every day; therefore, turning to knowledgeable professionals in this field can provide the needed guidance to ensure that your rights as an insurance policyholder are not compromised. Contact Kyle Staggs, Esq. to discuss your case.


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