I did not disclose to my homeowners' insurance company that I have a certain "aggressive breed" dog, despite the fact that such disclosure was required on my insurance application. Unrelated to that failure to disclose or that dog, I had an electrical fire that caused significant damage to my home. My homeowners' insurance company, which would otherwise cover this damage, is refusing to pay the claim arguing that I "breached" by not disclosing the dog. Can they do this? I would understand, of course, if the dog himself caused the fire, but that is not the case here.
Your contract controls. You need to seek legal advice to determine your rights.
The answers given are limited to the facts as given and presumed by the answer itself. Without seeing actual written documentation or having a conference to more fully explore the issues, this short answer has only limited application. Make sure to seek legal counsel and provide all documentation to get assistance in making informed legal choices.
We have handled many cases like this. An attorney will need to review your contract to give you the proper advice. Also, We need more information and this is not the proper form to ask the questions that need to be asked.
THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.
This is a classic material misrep issue, with the focus on the "material". You will likely have to retain a lawyer, to address this issue as most insurers play hardball on property burn cases, treating them ALL like arson. The key issue here is "material". Given the issue and the fire nature of the claim, you may find lawyers skittish on taking case on a pure contingent fee despite Fla. Stat. 627.428, which allows an insured to recovery fees if they prevail, so you should be prepared to pay for legal fees at least until the lawyer is satisfied its NOT an arson case.
The failure to disclose the dangerous breed of dog is a misrepresentation. The insurer would have to show that it was a "material" misrepresentation. That usually means that, based on their underwriting criteria, they would have increased the premium if they knew the truth. This begs the question whether the insurer would have merely excluded the dog from coverage or whether it would have been covered for an increased premium. Presumably, they wanted to know their risk related to dog bites. However, they might argue that animals can cause fires and therefore that was an underwriting factor. There are potentially several complicated issues in your scenario. You will not be able to get a meaningful answer to your question on this forum. You need to consult with an attorney experienced in insurance coverage issues.
The above is general advice regarding applicable state law. It does not create an attorney-client relationship in any specific case.
Please contact an attorney ASAP to review your insurance policy and determine if this was an improper denial. Most of the cases we handle are for improper denials by an insurance company.
An insurance lawyer can certainly make some good arguments in your favor. Avvo has a great lawyer finder tool to locate an attorney close to your home. Good luck.
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