Can an Insurance Company Deny Your Claim Because You Failed to Immediately Notify the Insurer of Damages?

David P. Stark and Evelyn Stark v. State Farm Florida Insurance Co.-4th District Court of Appeals

This story brought to you by Canan Law, the most respected team of attorneys in St. Augustine.

The Starks’ home sustained roof damages as a result of Hurricane Wilma on October 24, 2005. They made immediate repairs to the roof, then received FEMA funds to repair more extensive damages to their roof caused by the storm. They did not believe that the damages would require more than their insurance deductible to cover, so they did not notify their insurance company about the damages.

As the next few years passed, the Starks’ roof continued to leak and the house sustained further damages as a result. Over three years after the initial storm damages, the Starks reported their claim to their insurer.

The insurer sent an investigator to the home who reported that he was “unable to establish a date and cause of loss” when he discovered the repaired and replaced roof tiles on the Starks’ roof. The insurance company pointed to Starks’ policy which requires them to give notice to the insurer immediately following the discovery of damages. Because the company’s investigator reported that he was unable to establish when or how the damages occurred, the insurance company denied the claim.

A trial court issued a summary judgment in favor of the insurance company, finding no issue of material fact as to whether the insurer was prejudiced by the timing of the notice given by the Starks.

The Starks appealed the trial court’s summary judgment. They filed affidavits from their own experts who concurred that the pattern of damage to their roof could only have been caused by a storm like Wilma, which was the only storm of its kind to have affected the area in the time period in question.

The appeals court reversed the trial court’s summary judgment and remanded for further court proceedings.

While insurance policies usually stipulate that a claim must be made immediately following a loss, circumstances sometimes cause insured persons to forego putting their insurance company on notice. Although Florida courts will presume a prejudice against the insurer in a case like this, the presumption can be negated with the right evidence.

Only an experienced attorney working for you, and with only your best interests in mind, can assist you in receiving the compensation you may be owed by your insurance company. The team of attorneys at Canan Law are ready to answer your questions today and help you achieve the result you deserve if you’re currently in an insurance dispute with your coverage provider.

Canan Law, the most respected team of attorneys in St. Augustine, keeps you informed with blog posts discussing legal terms and Florida court cases that matter to you. Ask your legal question today with our website’s live chat feature!


Hear From Past Clients

    He Earned My Respect & Trust

    “Andrew came highly recommended by a friend who is a lawyer. In the courtroom, he is incredibly prepared. In giving advice, he steers his clients down the right road. I feel like was looking out for my best interest.”

    - Chip S.
    Very Grateful

    “Everyone at Canan Law was friendly and hospitable. Attorney John Westfield was very professional. He listened very well and always had our best interests in mind. Most importantly, he was prepared in court.”

    - Markell F.
    Thank You For Everything You Have Done

    “Their entire team was very professional and knowledgeable about my specific case. They took time to explain in detail what they were doing every step of the way. I was EXTREMELY satisfied with the end result.”

    - Hamid B.
    I Couldn't Be Happier

    “A wealth of talent at this firm. Responsive and direct; they valued my time and money. My outcome was exactly what I expected despite the many changes that I presented them.”

    - Steve K.
    Very Pleased with Every Aspect

    “I was very pleased with every aspect of Canan Law. They walked us through a difficult situation and were available and courteous throughout. I felt they heard and understood me.”

    - Dana P.

The Firm You Can Trust

Put Our Team On Your Side Today
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.