Despite being known as the Sunshine State, Florida still has its fair share of devastating natural disasters. In fact, just last year, Hurricane Elsa brought some heavy rains and strong winds along its path, uprooting trees and flooding a number of homes and commercial properties.
Having a homeowners’ insurance policy covering hurricane damages can be a huge relief during such trying times. Unfortunately, many policyholders will soon find out that another trauma is waiting for them once they file their insurance claim.
As we all know, most insurance companies make it difficult for policyholders to recover their well-deserved compensation. Most insurers can wrongfully delay, underpay, or deny claims, even if you’ve been faithfully paying for your premiums every month. After all, they are in the business of money.
If you’re currently experiencing such frustrations, the best thing to do is contact a hurricane insurance lawyer like Atty. Rafael Gonzalez. He can help fastrack your claims process, get you the right amount of compensation you deserve, and represent you in court during insurance lawsuits.
When a hurricane makes landfall, it can destroy structures and even wipe out entire communities in a matter of hours. Evacuees who seek safety during the storm usually find their properties in tremendous damage as a result of torrential rains, storm surges, and strong winds.
Here are some of the most common types of damages a hurricane can inflict on your properties.
Strong winds brought by hurricanes have the power to uproot trees and lift large debris off the ground. This debris may turn into high-speed projectiles that can wreak havoc on your home’s structure. This includes:
What’s worse is that when these winds pick up speed, they can turn into deadly tornadoes that can uproot and destroy your whole house.
Hurricanes can also bring deadly storm surges that cause an abnormal rise in the sea’s water level. As it overflows into communities, the rampaging current can destroy everything in its path一infrastructures, landscapes, and even croplands.
Even if there’s no storm surge, a few hours of non-stop rain can still result in flooding, damaging low-level structures on your property. Flooding can also cause other moisture and water damages to your home, such as:
If unaddressed, these damages can weaken your home's foundation, causing it to gradually rot or instantaneously give out.
The risk of a fire destroying your property also runs high during a hurricane. Some of the most common origins of fires during a storm include:
Additionally, flooding can also cause fire and electrical hazards inside your home due to submerged electrical circuits, appliances, and other electronics.
Land, real estate, and commercial buildings are not the only ones at risk during a hurricane. It can also destroy vehicles, machinery, expensive equipment, furniture, and other personal items.
Some policies may also cover damages and loss of other types of properties. It’s best to review your insurance coverage with legal counsel so you can ask an attorney everything you want to know.
Experiencing a massive storm can be a stressful and scary ordeal. It does not only inflict destruction to your property; it can also leave permanent emotional and mental trauma. However, not acting quickly and making the right decisions can put your wallet at risk, costing you a huge lump of money in the coming days.
If your property had sustained damages, big or small, due to the storm, it’s best to take the following steps to ensure that your claim is filed properly and promptly.
The first thing you should do is contact your insurance provider and notify them about the storm damages to your property. There’s no definite number of days required for reporting a claim. However, insurance carriers need policyholders to notify them of hurricane damages as soon as possible.
So once you confirm that there are indeed damages to your property, it’s best to report it immediately.
After notifying your insurance provider, it’s time to determine the extent and severity of your property’s damage by doing a full assessment. While evaluating the place, bring your phone with you and take shots of your entire property.
You can start by taking photos of your house or commercial infrastructure on the outside featuring all four corners. Make sure to take a photo of the damages at every angle to give the viewer a complete picture of the damage.
You can also record a video to include clear descriptions of the damages as you show them on camera. Some other documentation you may need to support your claim later on include:
Once everything is documented, you can now take some preventive measures to avoid further damages to your property. For example, you can temporarily cover the roof hole with a tarp to prevent rain from getting in. If your basement is flooded, you can pump out the water to salvage some items or prevent fire and electrical hazards.
Make sure to inform your adjuster or claims specialist about the mitigating actions you took. Some insurance providers require policyholders to take steps to prevent additional damages from occurring to their property. If you don’t do anything, they may cite this as a reason to undervalue or deny your claim.
You can now file your claim and wait for your insurance carrier to schedule a property damage assessment. This means that an adjuster will visit your property to view and document the actual damages.
If you don’t feel at ease in filing a claim on your own, you can seek the help of a hurricane claim attorney, like Atty Rafael Gonzalez, to assist you with the whole process. He can help or take on the task of talking to your insurance provider, filing a claim, and settling possible disputes.
He can also review your policy details and help you understand its coverage more clearly. This way, there won’t be any surprises or loopholes later on if it comes to a lawsuit.
Most carriers and policyholders often disagree with loss or damaged property value. Insurance providers may also inappropriately delay, cover only a fraction of your damages, and even outright deny your claim.
When such things happen, it’s best to hire a hurricane damage attorney to assist you in getting fair compensation. An experienced hurricane insurance lawyer, like Atty. Gonzalez of Ask My Attorneys can help you navigate the whirlwind of legal gymnastics that usually happens during insurance claims.
Most standard home insurance policies cover water and wind-related damages to your property. But in Florida, home insurances have a fixed set of deductibles specifically for hurricane damages.
Unfortunately, no. There’s a separate flood insurance policy that covers flood damages sustained by your property.
Some property damages caused by a hurricane (e.g., mold buildup, warping floors) may only appear after a few weeks. If these damages show up a few weeks or months after the hurricane, then you may be able to file a subsequent claim. Just make sure to document pieces of evidence and file them promptly.
Covering hurricane damages requires insurance companies to give out a significant amount of money to policyholders. So to mitigate their “losses,” expect adjusters to use every tactic they can to reduce your claim value or avoid paying you altogether. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
When you encounter the red flags mentioned above, it’s time to take legal action by seeking the best hurricane claim attorney.
With a lawyer by your side, you can avoid all these unnecessary dealings and pursue the optimal compensation that you deserve.
Atty. Rafael Gonzalez is an experienced hurricane insurance lawyer who has been helping victims of hurricane and storm damages for more than 20 years. He’s here to hold these insurance companies accountable for delaying, denying, or underpaying your claim during these trying times.
Besides being an excellent hurricane damage attorney, Atty. Gonzalez also specializes in other law practices, including personal injury.
Get your life back on track with an excellent property insurance lawyer by your side!
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