As residents of Central Florida, we’ve had first-hand experiences with hurricanes, along with our friends and neighbors. We understand the effects that it can have on your family, your property, and your lifestyle.
After a hurricane, your home insurance company can be overwhelmed with a number of claims, and you may not get the attention you deserve. Homeowners, like you, may find it difficult to recover a fair and just settlement as your teams of adjusters are tasked with moving from claim to claim, and may find ways to pay you as little as possible or nothing at all.
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Hurricane Insurance Claims FAQ
Even though you have taken steps to protect your home or business, a powerful storm can still cause significant damage to your property. Here are some claim-related tips that may help in the event of an insurance dispute that arises following a storm.
What Can I Do Before a Hurricane?
Document your property: Take photos of everything. Begin outside and capture your home from all four sides. Take wide shots that include your lot, your roof, fences, and gates — even outbuildings like sheds or workshops. Rather than taking a photo of an individual object or piece of property, be sure to include a portion of your home in the background. This makes it easy to see that all of your photos are from the same property. While still outside, take some photos closer to show more details, again including the roof, gutters, doors and windows, carports, and more.
After you're done outside, move inside and capture wide shots of every room from multiple angles. Include floors and ceilings, then move to more detailed shots of individual objects — from furniture and electronics to appliances and more. Make a list of your contents as you take photographs. Documenting your home and personal property is essential in proving the condition of these items in the event of a loss.
Gather Important Documents: Collect your insurance policy, an inventory of your property, birth certificates, deeds, receipts, and other important documents. Seal them in a large waterproof plastic bag and keep them with you. Having these documents readily available after a storm can be helpful if you have to file a claim.
What Should I Do After a Hurricane?
Protect your property from further damage: Most policies state that you must take measures to prevent more damage to your property after a storm. This may involve using a tarp for your roof or a piece of plywood to cover a window as a way to secure your home or business. If your property suffers further damage after the storm, your insurance company may hold you liable for the damage and deny your claim.
Document any and all damage: Take photos of everything. Again. If you have to do emergency repairs, take photos of the damage before you make the repair. If the repair obstructs or hides damage from the storm, the insurance adjuster may question the damage under your repair. Take photos of any damage, from multiple angles, both from a distance and a closer vantage point. Creating a list of damages while taking photos will help identify your photography and with making a claim.
Call your insurance company: It’s important to file your claim as soon as possible — many policies require it. Include your photos and inventory list of damages to help both the claims process and your case in the event of a dispute.
What Does My Homeowners Policy Cover?
As it pertains to hurricanes, many homeowners insurance policies in Florida cover wind damage. So if your roof, patio, or siding suffers damage, you should be covered. Policies typically don’t distinguish a hurricane from a windstorm, with the exception of the deductible. If your damage was caused by a hurricane, there is a special deductible that must be met before the insurance company will pay out. However, any water that enters your home may only be covered under a separate flood insurance policy. The language used in your policy is important, though sometimes confusing — it’s not everyday that you have to make a claim or gain a full understanding of what is and what isn’t covered. Even more important is how the policy language is interpreted. The insurance adjuster may provide their interpretation of what it means, while leaving out some details of the coverage to you.
Why is it Difficult to Settle My Claim or Get Enough Money for My Hurricane Damage?
Insurance companies may use a number of tactics that make it hard to get money for your property damages, including:
- Deny a part of your claim
- Deny a claim because it is excluded wholly or partially from your policy
- Deny that your insurance coverage exists
- Avoid payment under one policy or coverage
- Try to settle under other policy coverage
- Have delays in processing your claim
- Delay the estimating and adjustment process
- Delay paying your claim
- Make false or inaccurate statements to you
- Create an estimate that is not equivalent to your available coverage
- Make an offer or payment that is undervalued or reduced
- Require you to sign a release that prohibits reopening the claim or additional claims against the damage from the loss
- Advise you that a lawyer is not necessary to manage or complete the claims process
- Send you a check or a letter that uses language such as “final” when you have reason to believe there is cause for an additional claim
If you suffer a loss from a hurricane, need to file or reopen a claim, or experience any challenges with your insurance company, reach out to Attorneys Garcia & Zalloum. We will evaluate your case, review your policy, and work to ensure that your claim is paid to the extent your policy allows and is paid in full.