The Problem With Matching in Homeowners’ Insurance Cases
Sometimes property is totally and catastrophically destroyed, such as after a major hurricane. Other times, there may be damage to a large part of your property, but not all of it—for example, a flood that ruins the flooring on 75% of the surface area of your home. Although you are always better off sustaining less damage to your home, you may find unique legal problems that arise when only part of your property is damaged.
What are Matching Problems?
One such problem arises in situations where there are matching problems.
Imagine that 75% of your tile floor was damaged in a flood. The insurance company agrees that the loss is covered, and agrees to pay what is needed to replace the damaged floor. It sounds like your problems are over, and you have had a dispute-free insurance claims process, right?
Except for one problem—the insurance company cannot find tile that exactly matches the “good” 25% of your floor that’s left undamaged, or else the tile that is on the 25% of the undamaged floor is no longer being manufactured.
According to the insurance company, that’s not their problem—75% of your floor was damaged, 75% is being replaced. According to you it’s a big problem—aside from aesthetics, having a floor that’s mismatched can seriously lower the sale price of property.
Insurance Companies Don’t Like Matching
These are called matching claims, and as the name implies, they are claims that require the insurance company to replace all of a floor or roof or another part of your property—even undamaged areas—in order to have the entire part of a house (roof, floor, walls, etc) match, as it should.
Naturally, insurance companies fight back against these claims, because it cost them more money. As you can imagine, if only half of your roof is damaged, the insurance company now must pay twice the amount it would normally have to, including having to pay for otherwise undamaged property.
Florida’s Matching Laws
Many state laws are silent about matching issues, leading to lawsuits over whether or not an insurance company has to match the damaged and undamaged parts of property damage. However, Florida has a matching statute that requires insurers to match damaged and undamaged property.
The statute does say that an insurer can consider the expected lifespan of the undamaged part of your property. This means that if the undamaged part of your roof is, for example, 20 years old, and will likely need to be replaced anyway, the insurance company does not necessarily need to replace the entire roof. The law also allows the insurance company to consider whether matching can be achieved without replacing otherwise undamaged property.
Florida also has a law that precludes insurance companies from lowering the value of your home because of mismatched repairs. So, if your floor is mismatched because of a prior repair, and needs to be completely replaced because of a subsequent accident, the insurance company cannot lower the replacement value based on the prior mismatch.
If your insurance company is denying coverage for needed repairs to your home, or is refusing to pay what is needed to repair damage to your home, we can help. Contact the Miami property damage insurance attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today with any questions you may have.