Life in Florida or any other area graced with great natural beauty comes with obvious costs. Property values are high and continue to rise, and the cost of living, including homeowners insurance premiums, follow that pattern. Most people hope to never have to file a claim with their insurer, but if they do, they fully expect to be covered for their losses. Unfortunately, many homeowners find out only after the fact what their policy actually covers.

To be fair, not many people read their entire policy, but it is important to understand what the policy's basic coverage is and what is not covered or excluded. Most of the information regarding coverage is found on the declarations page of the policy. Specific provisions that may affect the policy due to the property location or local conditions may be referred to as endorsements.

For example, insurers of homes in many Atlantic coastal states include a separate hurricane deductible in their policies. Rather than a fixed-dollar deductible, such as $500 or $1,000, which is standard for other covered losses, the typical hurricane deductible is a percentage of the total covered value of the home. If the hurricane deductible is 5 percent, a significant amount of money comes out of the homeowner's pocket before any policy coverage kicks in.

Homeowners' insurance claims are often contentious. Denials by the insurer or offers to settle for less than the actual damages sustained by the homeowner are all too common. An insurance lawyer may be able to sort out the legal issues, explain what exactly the policy covers and determine if there is any bad faith on behalf of the insurance company.

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