The aftermath of Hurricane Irma has left home, condo, and business owners across Florida dealing with billions of dollars in property damage and the daunting task of filing a hurricane insurance claim to recover from that damage.
In the face of such big payouts, insurance companies could try to create unnecessary hurdles for property owners looking to get their lives and businesses back on track. These roadblocks are essentially a way of victimizing policyholders twice: first the storm and then denied or low-balled claims. You don’t have to stand for this, though.
Remember, we’re here to help, and we’ll do it for free. You don’t pay a penny unless we win for you — and even then, Florida state law makes it possible that your insurance company would pay all attorneys’ fees and costs.
To help you better understand what you’ll have to deal with when it comes to filing a hurricane insurance claim, below are some of the biggest questions people ask.
What’s the difference between windstorm damage and flood damage?
Windstorm damage involves damage to a property caused by high-speed winds arising from hurricanes, tornados, and other storms. Windstorm damage tends to cover some water damage, as well, such as rain leaking into a home or business after the roof or windows are damaged by high-speed winds, resulting in mold and mildew growth.
On the other hand, flood damage involves water damage from rising waters or storm surges. Homeowners and business owners insurance policies generally do not cover flood damage.
However, the distinctions between the two can be very hard to differentiate. And, many times the home has sustained a combination of wind damage, water damage, and flood damage. When that occurs special rules apply — rules that your insurance company likely will not tell you about.
Also, in order to get out of paying, it is the insurance company’s responsibility to prove the damage to your home was caused solely by flood damage, and not windstorm damage or a combination of flood and windstorm damage. If your home or commercial property sustains flood damage, it may be worth consulting our hurricane insurance lawyers to see if you could be covered for it.
Do homeowners, condo owners and business owners insurance policies cover fallen trees after a hurricane?
It depends. Most homeowners and business owners insurance policies cover damage and provide debris removal if a tree falls onto the property and causes damage as a direct result of a hurricane.
However, if the tree was rotting or at risk of falling down before the storm, many insurance companies may claim that the loss is not covered, citing negligence on the part of the home or business owner for not removing the tree ahead of time. If your insurance company says that, they are wrong and you should contact us for help.
Will my homeowners insurance policy cover roof damage after a hurricane?
Most homeowners insurance policies will cover damage to your roof that occurs as a result of a hurricane, such as shingles getting ripped off by heavy winds or damage caused by a toppled tree. Generally, the insurance company will agree to replace some damaged shingles or repairing part of the roof.
However, what many policyholders don’t realize is that they could be entitled to complete replacement of their damaged roof under their policy regardless of the age of the roof. If you’re unsure whether your entire roof should be completed replaced after a hurricane, a hurricane insurance attorney can help you find out.
What happens if my home is uninhabitable after a hurricane?
The majority of homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for “additional living expenses” in the event your home is uninhabitable after the hurricane. These expenses typically cover the cost of a hotel or rental home while your home is being rebuilt.
Meals eaten while taking care of rebuild-related tasks, pet boarding fees, moving costs, and other expenses may also be covered under “additional living expenses.”
Do business insurance policies cover business income loss in the event of a hurricane?
Yes. In addition to covering hurricane damage to the business property, business insurance policies cover income losses incurred as a result of a storm.
However, it’s not always easy to get the full amount you are owed for your business income losses, and insurance companies are notorious for challenging and minimizing your income loss claims. When it comes to these complex business income loss calculations, it may be best to contact an experienced hurricane lawyer for help.
Can I buy flood insurance before a hurricane?
Generally, no. Most insurance companies stipulate that flood insurance policies will not take effect until 30 days after the date of purchase. If a hurricane is approaching and you do not have flood insurance yet, it’s likely too late to purchase it to cover you during that particular storm.
A hurricane is coming. How should I prepare for a potential homeowners or business owners insurance claim?
The most important thing you can do to prepare for your claim is to document everything on your property. Take photos of your home or business, starting with large shots of the entire property and shots of all four sides of the building and the roof.
Afterward, photograph each room inside of the building, taking care to document any items of value, such as computers, furniture, and appliances. These photos can be essential in proving that a hurricane — and not pre-existing damage or wear and tear — was the direct cause of the damage in your claim.
Also, be sure to review your homeowners or business owners insurance policy to see what your policy specifically does and does not cover.
By when do I need to file my homeowners or business owners insurance hurricane claim?
As soon as you’re able. Most insurance companies have strict deadlines limiting the time you have to file your claim after a hurricane, so you should file as quickly as possible. However, if your insurance company says that you filed your claim too late, you should let one of our hurricane lawyers look at your claim for free. Florida allows many exceptions to the prompt notice requirements in the policy, and it is unlikely your insurance company will tell you about those exceptions.
Additionally, insurance companies generally take claims in a first-come, first-serve basis, so it’s in your best interest to file quickly in order to get a prompt response to your claim.
How long does it take to receive an insurance check after a claim?
The insurance company must either pay or deny your claim within 90 days of you submitting your claim. If you do not receive a check within 90 days, the insurance company may be wrongfully delaying your claim.
If this is the case, it might be time to consult with an experienced hurricane insurance attorney. The insurance company could even have to pay penalty interest fees if they are found wrongfully delaying a claim.
How much does a hurricane claim lawsuit cost?
Generally, if we win, the insurance company has to pay our attorneys’ fees and costs under Florida law. If we lose, we work for free. Either way, you are likely to get your legal representation free of charge. Contact us today to have us review your insurance claim and/or to help you fight your insurance company for the money you’re owed.