Florida may seem like paradise, but hurricane season changes everything. Dark storm clouds and powerful winds replace the bright, sunny skies hundreds of thousands of tourists visit each year. Because Florida is a flat peninsula surrounded by water, hurricanes make landfall easily and tear through the state easily. And hurricanes happen fast, leaving many feeling helpless as they begin to file a property damage claim.
Since 2000, Florida has seen at least nine major hurricanes causing injury, death, and destruction. If you live in Florida, you need to prepare yourself and your family for the effects of a hurricane. At the minimum, that means having proper insurance to cover damages during a storm.
Unfortunately, homeowners often accept settlements that are far too low. Insurance companies sometimes try to give the lowest possible amount of compensation, but Steinger, Greene & Feiner understands that you deserve more. Our expert Florida property damage lawyers will evaluate your claim and negotiate on your behalf with the insurance adjuster.
We have helped thousands of families recover the compensation they need for home repairs – let Steinger, Greene & Feiner help you, too. Call us today at (800) 431-6841 for a free case consultation.
Types of Property Damage Claims
There is no such thing as “hurricane insurance.” Although these storms are frequent in Florida, you will probably have to purchase a separate deductible for hurricane damage if it is caused by a storm that the National Weather Service made official.
According to Nerdwallet.com: “Whether you’re buying homeowners insurance, flood insurance or windstorm insurance — or all three — make sure you have enough coverage to pay for the full cost of rebuilding your house and replacing your possessions. Your insurance agent can help you pinpoint the right amount.”
Floridians should consider purchasing the following insurance policies to protect against damage from hurricanes:
- Windstorm insurance. Insurers in Florida offer this type of policy for an additional deductible, which typically ranges from one to five percent of the home’s value. The cost varies depending on where the insured lives. For example, in coastal Florida, the cost of windstorm insurance can be upwards of $2,500. Most windstorm claims are made for damaged roofs, but this type of insurance also covers exterior parts of homes and separate structures like sheds and garages. It’s important to keep in mind that damage from hurricane or windstorm-related hail will be covered in this policy.
- Flood insurance. Damage from storm surges or catastrophic flooding is not included in homeowner’s insurance in Florida. Like coverage for windstorms, flood insurance must be purchased as an additional deductible on your policy. Floridians should seriously consider adding this policy to their insurance coverage because of the enormous threat of flooding. One inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage to your home. These are devastating damages that can be mitigated with supplemental flood insurance. Even if you live in an area that has historically seen little or no flooding, you should still purchase this type of coverage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that more than twenty percent of flood insurance claims and federal disaster assistance for flooding comes from areas marked moderate or low-risk.
Property Damage Insurance Claim Process
The first step in making a property damage claim is to notify your insurance company. If you already have a clear understanding of what is and is not included in your homeowner’s insurance policy, you can contact the carrier immediately. If you are not familiar with your policy, take time to review the details. Reading over your policy several times will better your chances of receiving a fair settlement.
Property damage claims often have a shorter window of time to file than other claims such as car accidents. It’s imperative that you know how much time you have to file. If you wait until after the deadline your insurance company will most likely deny the claim.
The property damage statute of limitations in Florida is four years. That means that a Floridian who suffered house or property damage from a hurricane has four years from the date of the damage to file a claim with their insurance carrier.
For help with this and other steps in making your claim, contact a property damage lawyer at Steinger, Greene & Feiner. We know exactly what insurance companies look for in accepting a claim. We will facilitate the process so you don’t have to worry more than you already are. Contact Steinger, Greene & Feiner at (800) 431-6841 today.
Once you have filed your claim, your Florida insurance company has 14 days to acknowledge that they received it. After this step, the insurance company will conduct an investigation. There are several steps you can take to ease this process and increase your chances of receiving favorable compensation.
Make a list of the damaged property.
Conduct your own in-depth investigation of your house, office, or property and make an itemized list of all damages. You can do this on a piece of paper or your mobile phone; it doesn’t matter what format the list of damaged property is on. It just matters that you have one.
In addition to the structure of your house or property, make a list of any damages to valuables such as computers, appliances, and furniture. It is also extremely helpful if you are able to locate purchase receipts for any of these items. If you can, attach them to the list so all documentation is in one place and can be found easily.
This is a crucial step you should take before filing your property damage claim. Any visual evidence you can present to the insurance company, including photos or videos of damage that occurred from the hurricane or tropical storm, will greatly support the authenticity of your claim. Make sure to take photos of any damaged valuables as well.
To keep track of all the photos you’ll be taking be sure to email them all to yourself and keep them in a folder in your email. That’ll give you quick and easy access to all your photos, no matter where you are and who you are with.
Review proof of loss and other documents carefully.
After you call the insurance company to notify them of your property damage, they will assign an adjuster to the case. An insurance adjuster is the person who will work to help settle the claim; they essentially act as a mediator between you and the insurance company. An adjuster will report back to the insurance company with what damage they observed and will determine what work needs to be done to the property.
Before issuing payment, the insurance adjuster will probably ask you to sign a proof of loss document. Within this document is information on the scope and pricing of repairs for your house or property. You must review this document very carefully to ensure that all necessary repairs will be included.
It is advisable to hire an attorney to review the proof of loss document and make sure nothing is left out. Our property damage attorneys at Steinger, Greene & Feiner will review these documents and stay in communication with your insurance company to make sure you are on track to receiving the compensation you need.
Choose your repair company carefully.
You shouldn’t hire the cheapest repair company just for their low pricing, and you don’t have to choose the company that your insurance suggests. Many times, insurance companies will try and get you to choose their preferred vendor to minimize costs. It’s a good idea to get estimates from several companies and choose the best option from there.
Again, have an attorney review your options. The property damage lawyers at Steinger, Greene & Feiner know what expenses and costs are reasonable in these claims, so call us for a free consultation at (800) 431-6841. We help residents who have been affected by fires with homes in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Coral Gables, Miami, Okeechobee, Port St. Lucie, and Tampa.