It’s that season once again in South Florida. As seasoned Florida homeowners, most of us know how to prepare before the storm. But how many of us truly know what to do after the storm if our home has sustained damage? As professional Miami insurance lawyers, we are here to help.
Mother Nature Has the Upper Hand
We were reminded once again about hurricane tragedies during the 2017 season. Witnessing the devastating effects of hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, we remember how Mother Nature has the upper hand during times of disaster. In most cases, we hope we as are prepared as possible and learn to pick up the pieces afterward. And that brings us to an important part of that: our insurance policy. How do we handle an insurance claim after a life-threatening natural disaster?
The aftermath of a hurricane can leave us with property damage at a minimum and an uninhabitable home at a maximum. Not only are you dealing with the destruction of your treasured possessions but you may be facing displacement from your home while it is being repaired. In many unfortunate situations, as we saw, people are still suffering the effects a full year later.
Is Your Insurance Company Your Friend? Maybe Not
After the damage caused by a hurricane or tropical storm, you want to believe your insurance company is your best friend. Unfortunately, this is the time when you find this is very far from the truth. After diligently paying premiums for years, you find that what you get in return is often denials of coverage, delays, and constant battles over what will be repaired to your satisfaction and what is to the “satisfaction” of the insurance company. Often, these are very different things.
Things to Remember
There are some important things to remember if you find that you must file a claim after property damage caused by a storm.
- Mitigate – do what is possible without putting yourself in danger to mitigate any further damage. Many insurance companies will advise you to place a tarp on your roof in the event of roof damage.
- Don’t discard anything until you have at least taken a photo or video. Make a full documentation of any damages.
- File a claim immediately to get into the system. At times like this, insurance companies will be overwhelmed with claims. Even if you believe your damages to be minor, time may indicate that they are larger than you suspected.
- Keep receipts of any expenses, particularly ones in cash. If you can’t return to your home, keep a full accounting of any expenses.
- Get information from anyone you had dealings with regarding your storm damage. It never hurts to have witnesses of your damage.
- Create a detailed inventory of anything damaged or lost.
- Be very careful when hiring contractors after a storm. This is when unlicensed, uninsured, unscrupulous contractors will come out of the woodwork. Check for business licenses, proper insurance, whether they actually have a brick and mortar presence. Never pay in cash.
- Never hire unlicensed private adjusters. Ask to see their Florida license.
- Keep an ongoing journal of any communications you have with your insurance company, who you spoke to, and what was discussed.
Be aware that there are timelines for flood insurance claims. There may also be timelines as set out in the details of your particular insurance policy.
If you need help with an insurance claim after experiencing hurricane or tropical storm damage, call our Miami insurance lawyers at Korin Law, P.A.