Water Damage 14-Day Exclusion in Florida Homeowner Policies

Flooded Water Damaged Contemporary Living Room
This article is inspired by imaliklaw.com, authored by Imran Malik.


In Florida, claims for non-flood water damage have increased by 46% since 2010. This type of claim is now one of the most reported homeowners’ claims, coming in second to wind and hail damage claims. Due to this huge increase, the insurance industry has devised a way they can substantially limit or even deny coverage for water damage. In many policies there is now a clause excluding coverage for any damage that occurs over a period of time of more than 14 days.

Problems Floridians May Face with Their Homeowners Policies

This 14-day time limit can be a problem for homeowners. A leak can occur while they are on vacation or gone for the season. Leaks also occur behind walls, under appliances or simply in an area of the home that isn’t routinely accessed such as a closet, places where a homeowner is not going to quickly know there is an issue. In fact, much more time than 14 days can pass before the homeowner becomes aware of damp drywall, moldy areas, puddles of water, peeling paint or just a musty smell. What a surprise for them when their claims are denied because of the 14 day time limit.

Another problem comes with determining when the water damage began. Typically, a homeowner will report the water damage to their insurance company. Then the insurance company will send an “expert” to assess the cause of the water damage and the amount of damage. This “expert” may conclude the damage has existed for 14 days or more and the claim will be denied, and the homeowner hasn’t even been able to get another evaluation by an independent expert.

Still another problem is the lack of clarity in the 14-day exclusion itself. Ok, so the damage occurring at 14 days or later is not covered, but what about the damage that occurred from days 1 through 13? Luckily a decision in 2018 by an Appeals Court upheld our argument that damage occurring before the 14th day should be covered.

Experienced Insurance Claim Attorneys Can Help

When your water damage claim is denied or underpaid, seeking the help of an experienced insurance claim attorney is recommended.  Attorneys understand the tactics insurance companies use and can fight for what is rightfully yours.  When you have a legitimate claim, don’t be intimidated by your insurance company.  Get the help you need to get paid fairly for damage to your property.


Sources:

Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Annual report 2017 – 2017AnnualReport PDF

Whitely & Whitely v. American Integrity Insurance Company of Florida. State of Florida Court of Appeals for the Fifth District (29 June 2018).

Imran Malik
imran malik bioImran Malik, rated AV® Preeminent, by Martindale-Hubbell, is the founding member of Malik Law P.A. An AV® Rating signifies that a lawyer has reached the heights of professional excellence. He has practiced law for a number of years, and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity by fellow attorneys in his area of practice. Martindale-Hubbell is the oldest and most trusted lawyer information service in America.

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