Property Damage Caused by Hurricanes
Anyone who owns property in Florida knows that the possibility of hurricane damage is very high between June and November. With the NOAA expecting an above-normal hurricane season, we might see thousands of houses and businesses destroyed by strong winds, heavy rains, and storm surge. Most home and business owners have some type of property insurance, along with homeowners and flood insurance, depending on where they live. After home and business owners pay their insurance premiums to ensure they are covered for storm damage, they expect their insurance companies to pay for necessary repairs or replacements for damaged items and structures following a hurricane. Unfortunately, insurance providers are not always willing to reimburse policyholders for their losses during a storm.
Many property owners become quite discouraged when they learn how difficult and frustrating it is to file a claim, collect what they believe is due to them, and have repairs completed correctly. If your property was affected by a hurricane or tropical storm and your insurance company is refusing or undervaluing your claim, consult with a lawyer immediately. They can figure out how much you actually owe and negotiate with the insurance company for full compensation. If the insurance company still refuses to pay, a good lawyer will sue them in court; you won’t have to pay a penny until they win compensation for you.
However, you are able to improve your chances of receiving compensation for hurricane or tropical storm-related property damage by the following:
Preparing for a Hurricane
- Confirm that your insurance is still active and review the specifics of what it covers, including the amount of your deductible. Renew your insurance immediately if it has expired.
- The majority of homeowners insurance only covers wind damage, not flood damage. Many insurance firms claim that damage sustained by a storm was caused by floods rather than wind. You should get flood insurance coverage to prevent them from doing this and to support your future claim.
- Take pictures of the inside and outside of your house or place of business from both a faraway and up close. In case your phone is damaged, store them online. These pictures will be necessary to prove that the damage was caused by the storm and not before.
In addition to hurricane-proofing your home, taking the steps mentioned above will put you in a better position to get the money you need to recover after a hurricane.
Recovering from a Hurricane
- Ideally, you’ve already taken “before” pictures; you now need “after” pictures to demonstrate just how much damage the hurricane caused. Take photos of everything, both inside and out, and make a list of any damage you see. You want complete payment for each and every item that has been lost, damaged, or requires repair.
- The insurance company may try to claim that the damage occurred after the storm or that it was your responsibility if you don’t cover up your house or business after a hurricane. Cover your property with a tarp to prevent further damage. Look up your “Duties After Loss” obligations in your insurance policy to find out exactly what the insurance provider expects of you. You don’t want any of the property damage you’ve suffered to be held against you.
- You must submit a claim under most insurance policies within a reasonable period of time, which might be a week or two. Verify your policy, but regardless of what it says, you should submit a claim immediately after all the damage has been documented.
If you follow all the necessary steps, the insurance company will find it difficult to justify rejecting your claim.
Why a Lawyer Might Be Necessary
Unfortunately, your insurance provider may still use tactics to reject, delay, or undervalue your claim even if you follow all the necessary steps.
- Delay processing or paying of a legitimate claim
- Claiming certain damages are not covered (even if they are)
- Requesting that you consent to the release of any further claims in writing
- Making inadequate offers that don’t fully compensate for all your damages
- Attempting to pressure you into accepting a bad deal
After a hurricane or tropical storm, if you have issues with your insurance provider, speak with a hurricane property damage lawyer. While you concentrate on rebuilding, a skilled attorney can assess your claim and deal with the insurance company. They will battle to obtain you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve so you may put your life back together.