What is the Time Limit for Filing an Insurance Claim in Florida After Property Damage?

Timely filing of an insurance claim will reduce the risk of issues with the claim, including a flat-out denial of coverage. Each state sets its own guidelines for time limits related to filing insurance claims, known as the statute of limitations. In Florida, that statute gives people four years from the date of the incident to file a property damage claim. 

Of course, there are other limits and considerations involved. For example, the statute is different if the property damage is related to a car insurance claim. Understanding the ins and outs of the insurance claims process can make it easier to navigate the process and make sure that you get the compensation you deserve for any property damage claims, no matter the cause or extent of the damage. 

Insurance companies aren’t always expedient when it comes to processing claims. In fact, there are laws regarding how much time they have to process and approve claims to keep them on task and prevent them from dragging out settlements for years. When you understand the claims process, your insurer won’t be able to balk or stall, or even worse, try to lowball you on a settlement. 

Let’s take a closer look at the timelines and limits involved in property damage claims in Florida. 

What is a Statute of Limitations?

Laws often have a time limit written into them, which is known as a statute of limitations. This ensures that insurance claims are filed in a timely manner and that people aren’t trying to seek compensation for damages unrelated to the incident or damages that should have been addressed earlier, for example. It also keeps insurance companies on task and provides a more expedient claims process for the insured. 

It is easier to get the best outcome in a property damage claim if it is filed early and swiftly. As time passes, people forget things, information gets lost, and circumstances can change in a way that impedes the processing of the claim. Having a statute of limitations guarantees that these issues don’t impact the claims process. It also allows people to get on with their lives without that risk of legal action hanging over their heads endlessly. 

Florida Property Damage Statute of Limitations 

As mentioned, the state of Florida allows four (4) years from the date of loss, or the date of the incident, for you to file a property damage claim (and/or civil lawsuit related to the claim). The date of loss refers to the date on which the event happened. For the sake of natural disasters like hurricanes and tropical storms that are common in Florida, the date of loss will be the date that the storm made landfall. 

For tornadoes, windstorms, severe rains, and other events, the date of loss will be the date on which the event is verified by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association). Usually, major storms have a lot of claims from various homeowners and businesses, so determining the date of loss should be fairly simple. 

Supplemental claims are sometimes needed because the initial loss claim did not include all of the damage for one reason or another. In the event you need to file a supplemental claim, you have up to 18 months from the date of loss to notify the insurance company. If a claim is going to be reopened, it can only be done if the insurance company was notified within the first year from the date of loss. 

Granted, there are exceptions to these time limits in some cases. The best thing that you can do is work with a public insurance adjuster to get an expedient resolution for your claim and make sure that everything is filed, processed, and paid as it should be so that you get the compensation that you deserve. 

What Qualifies as Property Damage in Florida?

According to Florida law, property damage includes:

  • Damage caused by construction projects 
  • Carelessness that results in property damage 
  • Taking, damaging, or detaining personal property (jewelry, furniture, vehicles, etc.)

Property damage can include any damage or loss of personal property or real property (real estate) when caused by covered events. 

What are Covered Events?

Covered events refer to any situation under which a property damage claim can be filed. On most Florida insurance policies, covered events include:

  • Theft and burglary 
  • Breaking and entering (and related damage)
  • Fire 
  • Water damage 
  • Windstorm and hurricanes 
  • Impact damage
  • Negligence leading to property damage 
  • Vandalism 
  • Liability related to property damage 

Bear in mind that you may need to have separate insurance to provide coverage for damages related to flooding. These policies are managed and issued by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) along with support from FEMA

When Can You Extend the Deadline in Florida?

In most cases, once the four-year deadline has passed, most courts and insurance companies will dismiss property damage claims that are filed. At this point, claims will become invalid and people will not be able to recoup their losses. However, there may be extenuating circumstances that warrant an extension:

  • If the defendant is out-of-state or in hiding to prevent a lawsuit during that time. 
  • If the plaintiff is a minor at the time of the incident. 
  • If the plaintiff is legally incompetent. 

Florida’s legal statutes cover the full list of exceptions here. You can also talk to a public insurance adjuster to see if you have a reason that warrants an extension or if you should work to get your property damage claim filed immediately so that you can get back to your life. 

Tips for Speeding Up the Claims Process in Florida

The statute of limitations for property damage insurance claims in Florida is designed to protect both the insured party and the insurance companies. No one wants to be dealing with an insurance claim for longer than necessary, but there may be circumstances that warrant extensions or late-filed claims. If you want to make sure that your property damage claim is processed expediently, keep the following tips in mind. 

Document Everything 

There is no such thing as having too much information for an insurance claim. Try to keep an inventory of your personal property so that if a loss event occurs, you know what is lost and what needs to be replaced. Document the damage as soon as the event is over and make sure that you check everything. 

If you want a second set of eyes, consider bringing in a public insurance adjuster to help you get an idea of what to expect and how to document your losses for the best chances of getting the money you are owed. 

Take Photos and Videos of the Damage 

Photos and videos can go a long way in proving the damage caused to your property. Take as many pictures as you can before repairs begin or before the property is disturbed at all. That way, there will be no question of what was damaged and how the damage happened. As a bonus, make sure to date and timestamp your photos and videos so that there’s no refuting their validity. 

Know Your Policy 

The absolute best way to make sure that a property damage claim goes smoothly is to have a complete understanding of your insurance policy. This includes knowing what is covered, what the insurance company expects in terms of the claims process, and what might be excluded or not covered by your standard policy. 

For example, as mentioned above, you can file a property damage claim for water damage that results from a pipe bursting, but if you’ve got a flood claim, that will require separate flood insurance or the claim will be denied. The good news is that if you’re working with a public insurance adjuster, they can also help you understand the details of your coverage, limitations, and other elements. 

Have a Binder or Other System for Tracking Your Claim 

The insurance company is keeping track of every step of the process, and you should be doing the same. Get a binder, folder, or small file that you can use to keep all the paperwork related to your claim. Start a folder on your computer or create a file in your email for all the digital documents. Keep notes on things like:

  • Calls to the insurance company 
  • Conversations with property damage adjusters
  • Contractor conversations and estimates
  • Receipts for emergency repairs, accommodations, business interruption, etc. 

The more detailed your notes, the more likely you will be able to get through the claims process without a lot of delays. 

Work with Public Insurance Adjusters for Expedient Property Damage Claims in Florida

Sometimes, insurance companies try to drag the claims process out, thinking that people might get tired of waiting and accept a lower settlement or otherwise wear down in a way that benefits them and their profits. When you’re fighting against them, it can be hard to get answers and move things along without additional support. 

Fortunately, that support is right here waiting to help. At On Target Claims, we work with all manner of insurance claims, representing you and making sure the insurance company pays claims in full and in a timely fashion. We can help you better understand the property damage claims process in Florida and fight for the compensation that you deserve. If you are dealing with a property damage claim of any kind, reach out to On Target Claims to discuss your needs and find out how we can help. 

Related Content: Will Homeowners’ Insurance Cover Wind Damage in Florida?

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