The “Oh My God” Files: A Contractor Damaged My House. HELP!

Q: Six months ago, the house next to me was being renovated, and their seawall was being replaced. Somehow, in the process, the contractor damaged my four year old seawall, and the earth just behind the seawall is subsiding. There’s a chance that the foundation of my house could also be damaged. The house next door has a new owner, the previous owner says they’re not responsible, and the contractor who did the job won’t return my calls. HELP!

A: We’d have to see your policy, but you should be covered for the damages done to your property, both under your homeowner’s policy and the contractor’s insurance. You may need more legal advice than insurance advice, but here’s a breakdown of insurance, permits, and what it means to the parties involved.

First, let’s look at a homeowner’s policy. This policy is divided into several parts as follows:

  • Coverage A: Dwelling – this covers the house’s structure, from the chimney and roof beam down.
  • Coverage B: Other structures – this can include driveways, fences, swimming pools, sheds, and even seawalls, unless those structures are specifically excluded in the policy.
  • Coverage C: Personal property – everything you own inside the house that is not part of the structure itself.
  • Coverage D: Loss of use/additional living expenses. Should your home be rendered uninhabitable, you can be covered for additional expenses incurred by obtaining another place to live while your home is repaired or rebuilt.
  • Coverage E: Personal liability. Personal liability covers the property owner from property damage or bodily injury, to themselves or to a third party arising from a covered risk. If the property damage or injury occurs before or after the policy period, the insurance company is not obligated […]
By |2018-06-09T09:47:47-04:00January 27th, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments

Weather or Not?

It’s no longer “if” but “what” this year’s strong El Niño will do to Florida’s winter weather, and what it means for the 2016 hurricane season to come. The first El Niño storms of the season are being felt up and down the west coast, with many months ahead before the drought weary west can see an end in sight. However, even 3,000 miles away, we in Florida may have forgotten the 1997-98 El Niño and its effects on Florida weather patterns. Some of you whippersnappers would have still been watching Barney!

A Deadly Temper Tantrum

The two previous El Niños in 1998 and 2007 unleashed a spate of tornadoes across the middle of the state that resulted in a third of all known tornado fatalities in the state of Florida. Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed, and many families affected. We do know that NOAA is forecasting 33 percent cooler than normal temperatures for the state, and as much as a 70 percent increase in rainfall. That’s leaving aside the predictions of experts at the University of Colorado who believe that this year’s El Niño predicts an increase in South Atlantic hurricane activity.

What does this mean for the average SoFlo homeowner?

It’s time to take out your policies and do some homework.

It’s easy to get complacent at such a lucky streak, and to think that you can just coast on your current policies, but that’s a very good way to risk losing it all. Think about it. Your home may have increased in value, you may have made improvements not mentioned in your current policy, or you might have more personal property to […]

By |2018-06-09T09:47:47-04:00January 20th, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments

Mondo Condo: Water Damage Issue

Q: I woke up on New Year’s morning to a waterfall in my bathroom. My upstairs neighbor’s water line broke and my bathroom is a complete wreck. She’s an out of town owner, and it took me an hour to get the HOA to send someone to turn off the water from the line into her unit. The damage is enough to make me sit on the floor and cry, because I just finished redoing it into the bathroom of my dreams. There’s also damage to my bedroom floor and baseboards from the flooding. The HOA sent in restoration guys to remove the water and dry me out, but restoring my bathroom and bedroom is going to be a big job. I can move into the other bedroom and use the other bath while it’s being repaired. Who’s liable in this instance?

A: I’m so sorry! What an awful way to start 2016 – and right after you finished a redo, too. You’ve got a good start by getting restoration specialists in before more damage can occur and mold can take hold. Once everything is dried out you’ll be better able to figure out what you need to do in terms of restoring your home to its previous condition. Get that paperwork for the improvements you did together, because that’s going to be a big part of your claim. As for who is going to be liable, that’s going to be tricky until it’s determined where the pipe broke.

  • If it is determined that the unit owner’s negligence contributed to the pipe’s breaking, then the owner is responsible for the damages. This may even apply if the owner is an absentee owner.
  • If the unit owner could not […]
By |2018-06-09T09:47:47-04:00January 13th, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments

Get With the Program: Winter Maintenance Checklists

Get ready to be a busy beaver. Even in Broward, where winter weather means putting on a long sleeved hoodie and having brunch indoors, there’s a lot to do toward getting your home ready for cooler weather. Believe it or not, El Niño can have a big impact on our weather patterns, making for a winter that can be up to 33 percent cooler and as much as 70 percent wetter. That might be good news for the water table, but not so much for our sun-spoiled lifestyles. So get it in gear, and get your house winter ready.

  • Check your roof the same way you did before hurricane season. Look for cracked or warped shingles, sagging or discoloration, and clear the roof of any debris that’s accumulated. On the inside, look for any signs of water intrusion such as blistering paint, dampness or condensation, and mold or discolorations.
  • Clear your gutters and downspouts so that they don’t back up and overflow in a heavy rain. Make sure that water is directed away from the foundation and that your gutters and downspouts are secure and leak free.
  • Do a critter check. Check attics, chimneys, crawlspaces, vents, and other ingresses for any critters who might be looking for a warm, dry place to winter over. Rodents, raccoons, birds, snakes, and other beasts like to be comfortable, too.
  • Get a tune-up for your HVAC, change air filters, and clean out your ducts and vents to insure a clean, strong, and allergen free airflow.
  • Test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries. Mark the outside with a small sticker with the date on it so you know when to do your next check. It’s also a great time […]
By |2018-06-09T09:47:47-04:00January 6th, 2016|Insurance|0 Comments