Your insurance policy is the contract between you and your insurance company that governs the terms and conditions upon which coverage is afforded to your home following a loss. The two primary types of homeowners’ insurance policies in Florida are “all risk” policies and named perils policies, with most homeowners having the former. Although these policies may look similar, they each contain very important distinctions that will determine whether your loss is covered or not.
An all-risk policy provides coverage for all losses not resulting from misconduct or fraud unless the policy contains a specific provision expressly excluding the loss from coverage. Mejia v. Citizens Prop. Ins. Corp., 161 So. 3d 576, 578 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014). Alternatively, a named perils policy only insures against those risks and losses that are specifically named in the policy. Merrick Pres. Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Cypress Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 315 So. 3d 45, 47 (Fla. 4th DCA 2021). The types of policy you have determines the burden of proof during any litigation between you and your insurer.
A homeowner claiming a loss under an all-risks policy has the burden of proving that: (1) their home suffered a loss, (2) the loss occurred while the policy was in effect, and (3) the loss damaged their home. Once the homeowner proves these three elements, the burden then shifts to the insurance company to prove that the loss was excluded from coverage under the policy’s terms. If no exclusion exists, then coverage is afforded. Under a named perils policy the homeowner must still prove these same three elements, but must also prove that the loss is specifically named and covered under their insurance policy. If the homeowner cannot prove that the cause of loss is covered under the policy, then the burden of proof does not shift to the insurance company to defend the claim.
Understanding the difference between an all risks and named perils insurance policy is important. For example, assume your home was damaged by a sudden and accidental kitchen fire. If you have an all risks policy, then your initial burden is simply to prove that you suffered a loss during the effective policy period; however, if you have a named perils policy, then your initial burden also requires proof that fire is a covered peril under the terms of your policy. Absent fire being a covered peril, the insurance company will not provide coverage for your loss.
An insurance policy is a long, complicated contract, and understanding the language in your insurance policy is not always a straightforward task. Therefore, if you have recently suffered a loss to your home, or an already filed claim has been delayed, denied or underpaid, contact the attorneys at the Hernandez Legal Group today for a risk-free consultation.