Even though Florida is paradise the vast majority of the time, when the weather turns sour, it can be devastating. Our state has been hit by several major hurricanes in recent years, which have not only led to hundreds of lost lives but also billions of dollars in damage. Insurance companies have had to close because they simply couldn’t handle a multitude of people trying to file a property damage claim after hurricane season.
If you’re having a hard time with your hurricane insurance claim, the experts with The Eberst Law Firm may be able to help. We will fight for your rights if the insurance company offered you an unfair settlement or denied your claim entirely. If you would like to learn more, please give us a call at 1-888-CALL-JON or contact us online. We’ll be more than happy to answer whatever questions you may have, and to tell you how we may be of assistance.
Types of Property Damage Caused by Hurricanes
Two of the main reasons hurricanes cause so much destruction, of course, are incredibly powerful winds and storm surges. Even if a storm doesn’t hit land as a Category 5, it can do an extensive amount of damage. Here are just a few examples.
- Roof damage – No matter how strong a roof may be, it’s often no match for the sustained winds of a powerful hurricane. Even Category 3 or 4 storms can completely destroy a wide range of roofing materials, including shingles, tile, and more.
- Interior structural damage – When a home or building loses its roof, of course, that makes the interior even more susceptible to wind and rain. Doors can be blown from their hinges, windows can be broken due to flying debris, and much more. Expensive furniture, electronic equipment, and other possessions will often be destroyed, and critically important documents will be lost forever. To make matters worse, insurance companies are notorious for making it very difficult for homeowners to obtain the full value of their claims.
- Foundation damage – When winds are in the Category 5 range (156 mph or higher), nothing is safe – not even a home’s foundation. If a storm is powerful enough, it could actually lead to a house shifting, cracking the foundation in the process. If this happens, the home will not be habitable until extensive repairs are finished.
- Damage to equipment – Air conditioning and heating units can be turned into twisted heaps of metal in an instant, as can other vital equipment such as pool equipment, generators, appliances, and more.
- Damage to utilities – Even if a home is able to weather a storm fairly intact, the damage to power lines and water systems can be so extensive that people will have to leave their homes for weeks – possibly even months.
Types of Insurance that Cover Hurricane Damage
There are two main types of homeowners insurance that cover damage done by hurricanes – windstorm and flood insurance. Here’s a quick look at both and how they’ll affect your ability to file a property damage claim after hurricane season.
This is a policy available – for an additional deductible – that will usually cover anywhere from 1-5% of the value of the home. The amount of coverage offered will typically depend on where the home is located. If you have a home right on the coast, the cost of your windstorm insurance will cost much more than if you’re inland. The most common claim will involve roof damage. It could also include a garage, shed, or an exterior portion of a home’s structure.
There are a lot of homeowners who mistakenly assume that their regular policy also covers them against flooding. But this isn’t the case at all. You have to purchase separate coverage for flooding. But it’s worth the expense, considering that as little as an inch of water throughout a home could cause as much as $25,000 in damage.
The Process of Filing a Property Damage Claim After Hurricane Season
If you need to file a claim for hurricane-related damage, check your policy and get in touch with your insurer. After you file, the insurance company has two weeks to tell you that they received your claim.
There are a few things you can do to improve the chances your claim will be accepted. First, make a thorough list of everything that has been damaged, including your home as well as your possessions. Taking pictures of all the damage can go a long way toward convincing the insurer that your claim is authentic. Send them to your insurance company and email the photos to yourself, so you make sure you have a record.
Once you notify the insurer, they’ll send out an adjuster, who will report the damage they observed. They’ll also notate whatever work needs to be done to repair it. The adjuster will likely ask you to sign a document known as “proof of loss.” Make sure you look at this very carefully first and make sure each and every damaged item is included.
What if the Insurance Company Declines my Claim?
If the insurer denies your claim, don’t panic. Your first move should be to hire an experienced property damage attorney. Unfortunately, insurance companies will often misinterpret their own policies on purpose in order to deny homeowners their just compensation. These policies are often written in a way that only an attorney understands. They’ll look yours over and be able to tell what types of shady tactics the insurer is trying to use.
How Can a Property Damage Attorney Help Me?
An attorney can help you gather the evidence to prove your losses and draft and file your claim as well. If the insurer still refuses to offer a fair settlement, your legal representative can negotiate with them on your behalf. If that still doesn’t work, your lawyer can take the insurer to court if necessary.
Contact Eberst Law Firm for Help Filing a Property Damage Claim After Hurricane Season
Every team member with The Eberst Law Firm is passionate about seeing our clients achieve the justice they deserve. Schedule a free case review by contacting us online or calling 1-888-CALL-JON. We’re eager to help you file a property damage claim after hurricane season.