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The Real Deal When Claiming for Property Insurance Coverage

Throughout the years that I’ve been practicing law in Miami, I have seen the ups and downs of many cases. I’ve seen the personal struggles of people in trying to defend their case; and I’ve seen a series of victories and defeat in the process. Perhaps one of the most interesting is in line with real estate property owners and their ordeal when claiming for insurance coverage. 

There are many times when I find myself in disbelief on how insurance companies treat and serve their policy holders when they are claiming for insurance coverage. Things can get really messy and ugly that oftentimes, policy holders come to me to seek for professional and legal advice. Emotions can get really high especially when a property owner comes to me asking how to recover following an insurance claim denial or after being presented with an unreasonable insurance settlement. In the midst of a badly damaged property or business loss, what advice can I possibly give to a discouraged client in order to provide comfort and relief?

The Truth Behind Insurance Companies

Insurance companies have their own language and interpretation of insurance policies. It is quite difficult to understand their processes but they have their own ways of validating their assessments and investigations when dealing with insurance claims. From a professional standpoint, a game of “tug of war” is the best way to describe the process of claiming for insurance coverage. Two sides are both exerting efforts to pull at opposite ends of a rope until one successfully drags the other towards and across the central line. One side of the rope represents the insurance company and the other end represents the policyholder. Each side attempts to pull the rope towards them in order to beat the other. 

What are their odds of winning the game? To understand this better, let’s uncover the ways they can gain an advantage over the other.

  • Claims Handler and Independent Adjusters

Claims Handlers are in-house employees of an insurance company. They are tasked to assess and investigate an insurance claim. They are the ones who inspect the property damages and interview the property owner to determine entitlement to insurance coverage.

An Independent Adjuster is someone who is hired or outsourced by the insurance company to conduct an assessment and investigation relative to an insurance claim. An Independent Adjuster is usually contacted when a major calamity hits a certain area and there’s massive number of insurance claims to be handled. 

Basically, a Claims Handler and an Independent Adjuster work for the insurance company. They represent the interest of the insurance provider and it just makes sense that their assessment and investigation are also geared in favour of the company they are representing. 

  • Public Adjusters

Public Adjusters are hired by insurance policy holders to represent them and their best interests when claiming for insurance coverage. They also perform assessment of damages and investigation to facilitate the process. The duties of Public Adjusters are state-regulated thus giving them legal rights to represent policy holders and to negotiate on their behalf.

Apparently, it is now very easy to picture out the game of “tug of war”. Each one can rely on their allies to power up their game. Insurance companies can rely on Claims Handlers or Independent Adjusters to come up with an investigation that will enable them to validate a resolution that is on their favour. On the other hand, policy holders can rely on their Public Adjusters to maximize their insurance claims and to negotiate for a fair settlement. Each side tugs on opposite ends of the rope trying to gain an advantage over the other. 

From a Legal Perspective

The process of claiming for insurance coverage should not be an ugly and dirty process. Let’s face the reality that policy holders pay for their insurance premium in the hope that they can depend on it in the future. Thus, they should be entitled to insurance coverage come claiming time. Furthermore, insurance policies should provide peace of mind – that’s the reason why consumers pay their premium in the first place. 

In a perfect world, your insurance provider should be your ally when the need arises. You should be on the same side and not on the opposite ends of the rope. However, we don’t live in a perfect world where there are no complications and inconsistencies. This is Miami and just like in any other cities, insurance claiming can be a laborious process. And as an insurance policyholder, you should be aware of your options and rights. In this case, it’s clear enough that you can always hire a Public Adjuster Miami to represent you. This can somehow unload the heavy burden of you having to fight on your own. Having a Public Adjuster can give you a good head-start in managing your claim if you know little about the process. …

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Real Estate Fraud: Serious Water Leaks and Damage in Newly-Purchased Home

Miami real estate has its own ups and downs over the years with several properties still recovering from mortgage fraud issues and foreclosures. However, despite these challenges, the real estate market in Miami continues to thrive as more and more people are becoming interested about purchasing a property such as a home, a condo unit or a townhouse among many other choices. This steady stream in the market is undeniable which, in turn, increases certain risks among buyers. One of the risks includes damage to the property such as serious water leaks.

Imagine yourself purchasing a single-dwelling unit that looks picture perfect and set amidst a nice, warm and friendly neighbourhood. What drew you to purchase this property? It could be because of its proximity to picturesque views, sandy beaches and posh restaurants and cafes. It could also be for accessibility to places of interest. Or, it could be for its fine and sunny weather. Everything could have been perfect until you decide to repaint the ceiling and walls, and move the furniture. You see ugly marks and stains that spread all over; and later on, you find out that this is mold infestation caused by serious water damage and leaks. 

Miami Home Leaking

Case Study: Managing the Situation

I have personally seen clients, such as a young couple who recently moved in, who asked for advice about a newly-purchased home which was discovered to have serious water and mold damage. They had the problem assessed and investigated by credible specialists on water damage Fort Lauderdale residents had recommended to them. Is it possible to cancel the purchase upon discovery of the damages? What rights do they have as real estate buyers? Can they rescind the contract?

The answer varies on a case-to-case basis. It depends on several factors such as; if the damages had been disclosed and discussed by the seller to the buyer beforehand, evidence that prove or disprove such claims, and if there is really fraud or misrepresentation that exists in their transaction. In whatever situation, real estate buyers have the right or prerogative to sue the seller and to file the necessary charges.

Court Hearing and Resolution

The charges were filed by the couple against the seller which later on underwent trial in the local district court. It was found out that there were no evidences or substantial documents to support the couple’s request to rescind the contract. It was revealed that the seller knew about the existing water-related damages to the property and failed to have the problem checked to determine its severity. Furthermore, it was also proven that the problem has been disclosed to the buyers in passing but they had no idea just how serious the damage is because the stains looked harmless. 

The issue was brought up during their final negotiation process upon seeing small stains and discolorations next to the kitchen counter. The seller assured them that it’s nothing to be worried about and that it has already been taken care of. Thinking that it’s just minor stain, they agreed to buy the property only to discover later on that the house has multiple and serious water damages hidden everywhere and molds are literally in every corner. However, despite all these circumstances, the buyers cannot rescind the contract but rather were entitled to get back the down payment and deposit they gave to the seller (plus payment for the cost and fees relative to the filing of the case). This amount could then be used to cover the cost of repair of all noted damages. 

A Piece of Advice

It is always best to have a real estate lawyer when dealing with any real estate transaction. Having a lawyer involved throughout the process can protect your rights and interests as a buyer. You can have your best foot forward by having sufficient evidence and legal documentation in case of misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment by the real estate seller. And in the instance that problems arise in the future, you may be entitled to rescind the contract or at least get the best possible resolution that is completely in your favor.…

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Security Issues in Using Dating Apps

Dating apps offer a fast and convenient way to meet new people and to score a date. Even the younger generation are increasingly becoming more and more exposed to using various dating apps. However, beyond the fun and exciting facade of these dating apps are potential risks that can harm and endanger you.

Prevalence of Crime Associated with Dating Apps

Data reveals that sexual assaults associated with online dating sites or free chatlines sites have risen by over 450% in the past 6 years. Another study conducted by Statista portal of statistics and studies also revealed that 61% of Americans aged 18 to 29 years has already used a dating app at some point in their life. Another study which was conducted in Hong Kong states that among almost 700 students, those who are using dating apps online doubles their risks for sexual abuse compared to non-users. 

Given these alarming figures, it is about time to open our eyes about the potential dangers of using online dating apps. It doesn’t make sense to come up with excuses and other forms of reasoning. It can be fun – it’s true. However, the dangers and risks far outweigh the “fun” element at this point.  Given the rate of crimes associated with online dating apps, it is about time that you learn how to practice precautionary measures to protect yourself at all cost from offenders that use these tools to lure their victims. 

Crimes Associated with Dating Apps

You might have probably heard about dating apps horror stories. While you may accuse your parent, relative or friend about fabricating such stories to stop you from using these apps, there is actually a lot of truth in them. In fact, there is more than a truckload of recorded data about crimes associated with online dating apps. Here are the most common ones;

  • Sexual Assault and Rape
  • Fraud
  • Identity Theft
  • Harassment and Extortion
  • Kidnapping
  • Theft and Robbery

How to Protect Yourself

Dating apps can be fun and entertaining. However, they can expose you to a lot of risks and danger. Research had shown that sexual offenders such as rapists make use of online dating apps to find new victims. So what may seem like a harmless meet up can actually turn into a tragedy before you even know it. The least you could do is to protect yourself and to keep your guards up. Here are 10 basic tips on how you can protect yourself;

  1. If you’re having uncertainties and doubts, don’t agree to meet up
  2. If you agree to meet up, do it in a public place and bring a friend with you
  3. Don’t agree to meet up or to go in a private place where it’s just you and your date
  4. If you want to talk to your date in private, choose a restaurant or a cafe where there are people nearby. It would be best to ask a friend to keep an eye on you from a distance.
  5. Don’t take anything that is offered to you such as a drink or even food
  6. Keep in mind that you’re dealing with a complete stranger and as a rule of thumb; it is not safe to talk to strangers. So be extra careful.
  7. Don’t disclose any personal information, your address, your school and where you work
  8. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, excuse yourself politely and leave.
  9. Conduct your own investigation before agreeing to meet up. Check out photos and other disclosed information.
  10. The best way to protect yourself is to take your time. Don’t agree to meet up right away no matter how comfortable it may sound. A stranger is still a stranger and you’ll never know what lies behind a friendly conversation. Keep your interaction within the dating site and don’t bring it elsewhere. Romance doesn’t happen overnight. So don’t give in to any requests and always be mindful about what you say.

Parting Words: Protecting Yourself as Your Top Priority

As a final word on this topic, dating apps are supposed to be fun and exciting. However, given the situation right now, there is no doubt that they’ve been corrupted and used for all the wrong reasons by mindless people. I’m not discouraging you or anyone else from using these apps. What matters more at this point is to generate awareness on how users can protect themselves and to keep their guards up to maximize their safety. 

While there is nothing wrong about using dating apps to meet new people and to make new friends, something is terribly not right about the people who are using them. So even if your intentions are clean, you’ll never know if the person you’re talking to has the same intent and purpose. The least you could do is to never expose yourself right away until you’re totally, completely and 100% sure about it. And even if that’s the case, it is still best to practice the top 10 precautionary measures shared in this post.…

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