Framing issues with proper perspective and language is crucial to every legal argument. As an advocate, I choose words carefully. I was thinking language and framing issues when researching "chipped tile claims" last week. I found a number of interesting discussions and advertisements, primarily from South Florida attorneys who routinely handle these types of claims. I found none from attorneys in other areas of the United States.
Here is a typical advertisement:
Is anyone responsible for the replacement of a broken tile in my home? The answer is often yes: your homeowner’s insurance company will help you either repair or replace the tile that is broken or if necessary, pay for the removal and replacement of all the tiles in your home. In order to find out if you qualify for compensation, it is important that you consult with an attorney, such as the attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A., who have experience handling claims for broken tiles.
Unfortunately, things happen in our homes. Family members or guests may negligently break a tile in our home. If you have extra tile, the situation can be easily remedied by having someone qualified remove the broken tile and replace it. This will normally allow for an exact match as the tile could be from the same lot as the rest of your floor. On other occasions, certain methods to repair tile will allow your floor to look uniform. However, when you don’t have any spare tile, your tile cannot be repaired to make your floor look uniform and there is no other replacement tile available to match your existing floor exactly, you may be entitled to make a claim under your homeowner’s insurance policy. The lawyers, investigators and estimators of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. will come to your home, interview you and inspect the premises. We have been successful in bringing claims against homeowner’s insurance carriers for replacement of the floor of an entire room or even that of an entire home. In addition to having a tile replaced, it may be necessary to remove and replace kitchen cabinets or other built-in furniture because the cabinets sit on top of the tile. We make sure that everything that can be done to restore your home to the way it was before the tile broke is done and paid for by your homeowner’s insurance carrier.
For a free consultation to determine whether or not tile damage or other damage caused by negligence in your home is covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy, please call the lawyers of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. The consultation and inspection are free and there is no obligation on your part to retain our firm to represent you.
Remember, insurance companies have trained adjusters, tile experts and attorneys working for them. You should level the playing field by having the lawyers of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, P.A. represent you.
My colleagues from Ligman Martin call these claims "damaged tile claims." I like that. They also advertise and explain how tiles can be damaged:
Many homeowners and business owners do not realize that tile damage is often covered under most insurance policies. Common types of covered tile damage include chipped, cracked or broken tile due to the sudden and accidental dropping or falling of an object.
Other ways in which tile can be damaged includes roof leaks, structural damage, toxic mold contamination, damaged electrical wiring, and water damage. These types of damage must be properly dealt with in order to preserve the safety and value of your home.
Most insurance policies cover this type of tile damage and you may be entitled to have all, or a portion, of the tile flooring in your home or business completely replaced. But, it’s important to understand that every tile damage insurance claim is unique and the extent of damage that is covered depends on the particular policy.
If you have a problem involving damaged tile at your residential or commercial property and need to file an insurance claim, contact Miami Insurance Lawyer James C. Ligman PA. Our years of experience in all aspects of first person property insurance litigation will prove to be beneficial to you.
A number of advertisements call these "falling or dropped object claims."
One insurance defense firm advertised they were called by an insurance company to save them from paying on these losses. They proclaim their expertise and success by stating:
No one had yet come up with an argument against such claims until Mr. Maestri’s attorney filed his standard motion for summary judgment on the right to have the claim decided by appraisal. It was then that Florida Peninsula authorized Cole, Scott & Kissane to go on the offensive.
In their post, "Mar Wars, or is A Chipped Tile Worth $81,000?", Cole, Scott & Kissane describe the defense perspective:
Everyone who has homeowners insurance expects the insurer to pay when the home is damaged by a covered event, such as a hurricane, fire or plumbing leak. The typical homeowner simply wants their home restored to its prior condition and wants the insurer to pay what is rightfully owed. Over the past several years, however, there has been a new type of claim that results in extreme overreaching by the insureds, their public adjusters and their attorneys.
This is the typical case we have defended: Mr. Insured was hanging a picture on the wall. He accidentally dropped his five-pound hammer. When the hammer hit the floor, it chipped or cracked a tile. Mr. Insured, through his public adjuster, makes a claim. The claim is not, however, for a chipped or cracked tile. The claim is for $80,000 worth of new tile throughout the entire house. Everywhere in the home that the tile runs continuously from room to room is claimed as requiring replacement. The stated reason is that the one damaged tile cannot be replaced because a matching tile cannot be found. The insureds never have left over tile from when the floor was installed and they cannot have a mismatched tile in their floor because they are entitled to matching tile. The argument is that pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 626.9744, the claims settlement statute, an insurer must make reasonable repairs or replacement of matching items in adjoining areas.
In the past, insurers tried to bargain. “We do not need to replace the entire floor because we can harvest a matching tile from a hidden area, such as under the refrigerator.” Eventually, however, the cases typically settle.
Like mold claims before them, these “dropped object” claims have fomented ever more claims with bigger and more extensive demands and payouts. At least one insurer refused to give in to such obvious overreaching. That insurer began denying the claims as falling under an exception to coverage. The insurer, after fully investigating the claims, including having an engineer inspect the damage, denied such claims as “marring” pursuant to the “wear and tear, marring, deterioration” exception to coverage. Naturally, the insureds and their public adjusters pushed back.
The resulting lawsuits allege either breach of contract for failure to pay a covered claim or demand appraisal of the claim pursuant to the policy’s appraisal provision.6 Almost invariably, the insurers make the economic decision to settle the cases or agree to appraisal to cut their losses and cut off the attorneys’ fee claims.
As in life, it is all a matter of perspective.