After suffering a loss, you file your insurance claim to get help covering the damages and provide documentation to back up your claim. Your insurance company may want you to think that the entire burden of proof is on your hands, but in Florida, after you have initially given them evidence to show the losses, you have fulfilled your burden of proof obligation.
In your insurance claim, the initial burden of proof is not a big one. You simply need to provide your insurance company with the proper documentation to accompany your claim. This can seem intimidating and overwhelming but hiring a public adjuster can help you get your claim in order and make sure you have provided sufficient documentation to fulfill your burden of proof.
Once you have met your obligation in the burden of proof, the burden will now shift to your insurance company, who will have to prove that the cause of the damages was from the sources you provided. From there, if they want to deny your coverage, they must prove that the cause is an exclusion from your policy.
If this is taken into a court, the burden of proof is solely in the hands of your insurance company; they must convince a judge, and possibly a jury, that the cause of your damages was done by something that is excluded in your insurance coverage.
For example, your home has sustained water damage from a hurricane, so you file an insurance claim. Your insurance company says that the damage was caused by flooding brought on by the hurricane, so it does not have to cover the damages. They have to prove that this was indeed the case, and not that the hurricane peeled away part of your roof and the rainwater flooded your home.
If your insurance company is able to convince a judge and jury that the damages were suffered by an exclusion to your policy, the burden of proof will shift back to you. At this point, you can try to prove that while the damages were sustained from an exclusion, it was an exception to the exclusion and therefore still must be covered under your policy.
Hurricane Slab Cases
When all that remains of the home after a hurricane is the concrete slab, the only proof you can give your insurance company is that your home was in the hurricane’s path and it was swept away. Insurance companies have been known to try to deny these claims, stating that flooding caused the home to be destroyed, not the winds from the hurricane itself. There have been numerous court cases on this subject after hurricanes, notably, there was a large slab lawsuit following Hurricane Katrina in which Nation Wide paid over $270 million to cover damages. In many of these cases, the policyholder wins, provided they can show that they can demonstrate in some way that their home was demolished by the hurricane winds and not the flooding.
If your home was completely destroyed by Hurricane Irma, and your insurance company has denied your claim, there is still time to appeal the decision. You have until September 10 to file your appeal for your Hurricane Irma claim.