Hurricanes are a common occurrence in Florida. Each year, the Sunshine State endures a six-month long hurricane season. From June 1 to November 30 tropical storms and hurricanes can form in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and make landfall in Florida and other Southeastern states. Although some parts of Florida are less vulnerable to hurricanes than others, hurricanes can hit any part of the state and cause extensive and even catastrophic property damage.
If you own property in Florida, it’s in your best interest to prepare yourself for a hurricane damage claim in the event your home or business does suffer damage from flooding, wind damage or flying debris.
In the aftermath of a hurricane, there may be thousands of people filing property damage claims, which means your insurance carrier will be looking for ways to reduce their inevitable losses. They will likely use every trick in the book to minimize your damages and underpay your claim. The better you’re prepared, the higher your chances are of maximizing your insurance claim settlement.
Make sure you know what your home insurance policy contains and purchase additional coverage if necessary. It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to deny or underpay claims on the basis of insufficient coverage. This is a common tactic used by insurance adjusters looking to resolve your claim as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Knowing exactly what your policy covers may give you the upper hand and show the adjuster they won’t be able to get away with their unethical tactics.
Most standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. Many homeowners assume that water damage and flood damage are the same thing, but this isn’t the case. Water damage policies cover damages caused by plumbing problems in your home, such as a burst pipe or water heater ruptures, but they exclude natural flood damage.
If you live in a hurricane-prone state like Florida, it’s essential to invest in a separate flood insurance policy which covers flood damage caused by natural disasters.
A homeowners insurance policy usually covers any belongings and appliances in your home that are damaged or lost in a hurricane. However, when you file a property damage, the adjuster will want to know which items have been damaged. They may even ask for some kind of proof of ownership, such as a receipt.
Create an inventory of valuable property to increase your chances of receiving compensation for damaged belongings. You don’t have to itemize every single thing you own (this may be an unrealistic and unnecessary task) but it does make sense to document your most valuable possessions, such as furniture, jewelry and electronics.
To get fair compensation for your most-prized belongings, gather as many details about them as possible, including purchase receipts, pictures and specific details that affect their value.
If your home has suffered damage, your insurance adjuster may try to delegitimize your claim by saying the damage existed prior to the hurricane. To prevent this from happening, document the condition of your home before hurricane season each year by taking pictures of the inside and outside of your home, including the roof, windows, door frames and gutters. You can use your smart phone to take high-quality pictures and save them on cloud storage.
If a hurricane strikes your neighborhood and you’re forced to evacuate, looking for insurance documents will likely be the last thing on your mind. When planning for a hurricane, make sure you have copies of your insurance documents handy so you can take them with you in case of an evacuation. Downloading them to cloud storage or to your phone can ensure you’re not struggling to locate them in an emergency. Moreover, having access to your insurance documents online guarantees they’ll be available when you’re ready to make a property damage claim.
Even the most prepared Florida homeowners can be treated unfairly when filing a property damage claim. If you’re dealing with an unethical insurance adjuster who’s trying to dispute the validity of your claim, it may be in your best interest to consult a lawyer.
At Kanner & Pintaluga, our experienced property damage attorneys are committed to helping Florida homeowners receive the financial recovery they deserve as policyholders.
To schedule your free consultation, call 800.586.5555.