Chipped Tile Insurance Claims: Are They Excluded Under My Florida Homeowners Insurance Policy?

Florida Chipped Tile Insurance Claims_fightsforyou.netWhether you live in North Florida, Central Florida or South Florida, “chipped tile” or “broken tile” claims are rampant in this state and in such an abundance, its very similar to the way gold mining was in California during the 1800’s. However, these chipped tile insurance claims took a huge hit earlier this year in a Florida Court decision that likely upset many of the property damage restoration contractors, public adjusters and even some Miami, Florida chipped tile insurance claim attorneys, wherein these chipped or broken tile damage claims makeup a good part of their business. In the case of  Ergas v. Universal Property and Cas. Ins. Co., 114 So.3d 286 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013), the Fourth District Court of Appeal (governs Broward and Palm Beach Counties), ruled that a homeowner who dropped a hammer on their tile floor causing chips or damage to same, that this chipped tile or broken tile damage was excluded under their Florida homeowners insurance policy under the “marring exclusion.”

The insured’s homeowners insurer, Universal Property and Casualty, denied their chipped tile damage claim under the “marring exclusion” within their Florida insurance policy, to which the trial court granted summary judgment to Universal (who argued that the chipped tile constituted “marring” and thus was excluded in the insurance policy) and dismissed the insured’s lawsuit for insurance coverage under their policy.  The policy stated the following: Section I: We insure against risk of direct loss to property … We do not insure, however, for loss: … 2. Caused by: … (e) Any of the following: (1) Wear and tear, marring, deterioration…. Of note, Universal argued that “marring” was not ambiguous because it could mean either a sudden act or one that took place over time….and interpreted the word to mean any damage at any time that made the property less than perfect.  The insured argued that the damage caused by dropping the hammer was sudden and thus came within the coverage of the insurance policy.

The Fourth District noted that the Florida insurance policy at issue was an “all risk policy” that covered all fortuitous losses, although it did not cover all conceivable losses.  The Court further went on to hold that  the “chipped tile” damage caused by the hammer dropping constituted marring and thus was excluded from policy coverage, to which they thus affirmed the final summary judgment entered by the trial court.

Moral of the Story: if you are a South Florida homeowner (whether a townhouse, home, condo, duplex, triplex or the like) and happen to damage, break or chip the tile, marble or granite floors in your residence (could be by dropping a hammer, plate or any other type of object), whether you live in Hollywood, Pensacola, Ocala, Cape Coral, Saint Augustine, Aventura, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Gainsville, Palm Coast, Port St Lucie, Port Orange, West Kendall, Homestead, the Florida Keys, Cutler Ridge, Palmetto Bay, Daytona, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, Naples, Jacksonville, Stuart, Jupiter or another area within Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Palm Beach, or anywhere in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach or Monroe County, know that you if you hire a Miami, Florida chipped tile insurance claim attorney to handle your denied chipped tile insurance claim, according to this new opinion out of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, you may be fighting an uphill battle given this chipped tile or marble damage could be considered excluded under your Florida Homeowners insurance policy under the “marring” exclusion.

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