Hurricane Idalia could become the costliest climate disaster to hit the US this year. The category 3 hurricane unleashed flooding, rain, and a storm surge, leaving many coastal communities underwater. As reported by Reuters, early estimates from risk analysts at UBS valued the damage in Florida at $9.36 billion.
Damage to your home after a hurricane in Florida can be significant and varied, depending on the strength of the hurricane and your home's location.
What are the common types of damage that can occur after a hurricane?
Hurricane-force winds can cause extensive damage to roofs, siding, windows, and doors. Roof shingles may be torn, windows shattered, and doors damaged or blown open. Wind can also uproot trees and cause them to fall onto homes.
Hurricanes often bring heavy rain and storm surges, leading to flooding. This can result in water damage to your home's interior, including floors, walls, ceilings, and personal belongings.
If your home is in a flood-prone area, it may experience significant flood damage from the storm surge or heavy rainfall. Floodwater can cause structural damage, mold growth, and damage to electrical and HVAC systems.
Storm Surge Damage
Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water that can flood coastal areas during a hurricane. It can lead to severe structural damage and flooding, especially in low-lying areas along the coast.
Hurricanes can generate flying debris, including branches, trees, and other objects, which can cause damage to the exterior of your home, including siding, windows, and roofs.
Mold and Mildew
Water intrusion and high humidity levels after a hurricane can promote mold and mildew growth inside your home. This can be harmful to both the structure and the health of occupants.
Power outages and electrical surges are common during hurricanes. Lightning strikes and flooding can damage electrical systems, leading to fires or electrical hazards.
Severe hurricanes can cause structural damage to the foundation, walls, and support systems of your home, making it unsafe for occupancy.
Trying to file an insurance claim after your home or property is destroyed in a hurricane is a process many Floridians must go through but aren’t always ready for. Insurance claims are often complicated. Hurricane insurance claims are even more complex.
Filing a hurricane home insurance claim in Florida requires a systematic approach to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for the damages incurred during the hurricane.
What are the steps to follow when filing a Hurricane Idalia Claim?
Ensure Safety and Mitigate Further Damage
If it's safe, prevent further damage to your property (e.g., cover broken windows, tarp-damaged roofs, remove debris). Insurers usually want you to make temporary repairs, such as putting up a tarp, to stop any further damage to the house, even before an adjuster assesses the property. But take pictures before you make those temporary fixes.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Notify your insurance company as soon as possible after the hurricane, even if you're not sure about the extent of the damage. You may contact an expert insurance claim lawyer before contacting your insurance company to handle the process. It’s important to know what NOT to say when filing a claim that could cause a delayed or denied payout.
Document the Damage
Document all hurricane-related damage thoroughly. This includes taking photos and videos of damaged areas, structural damage, and personal property losses.
Please make a list of damaged items and their estimated values. Keep records of expenses related to temporary repairs, accommodations, and other hurricane-related costs.
Review Your Policy
Carefully review your insurance policy to understand what it covers, including any specific hurricane or wind damage provisions. Be aware of your policy's deductible, coverage limits, and any limitations or exclusions.
While a standard homeowner’s policy covers damages from wind and wind-driven rain, many charge separate wind deductibles, which means higher out-of-pocket costs. The deductibles are usually based on a percentage (roughly 5% to 10%) of your coverage rather than a flat dollar amount.
Homeowners Insurance doesn’t cover Flooding. How to File Flood Insurance Claims After Hurricane Idalia.
In general, damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, and water that comes into your home through the roof, windows, doors, or holes in the walls is covered by homeowners’ insurance. But damage from flooding or water that rises from the bottom up — from the overflow of a body of water, for example, or a storm surge — is not covered.
Standard flood insurance by the National Flood Insurance Program generally covers physical damages directly caused by flooding within the limits of the coverage purchased. If you suffered flood damage from Hurricane Idalia, you must file a claim through FEMA.
But even if you didn’t have flood insurance, it’s still worthwhile to contact a lawyer well-versed in insurance policies to see whether some of your expenses could be covered, such as wind damage to your roof or the additional living expenses you incurred while you were out of your house.
Flooding would be covered if your car insurance includes comprehensive coverage (which protects against physical damage not caused by an accident). In many cases, the water damage can be so bad that the insurance company will declare the car a total loss and pay the claim for the car's value (minus the deductible).
Complete Claim Forms and Provide Documentation
Our insurance company may require you to complete and provide additional documentation. Be prompt in supplying the requested information to avoid delays in processing your claim.
Maintain detailed records of all communications with your insurance company, including phone calls, emails, and written correspondence. Ask for everything in writing via email during phone calls and document the name of the person you’re speaking with from the insurance company.
Meet with the Insurance Adjuster
Your insurance company will assign an adjuster to your claim. The adjuster will contact you to schedule an inspection of the damage. Be present during the inspection to provide access to damaged areas and answer any questions the adjuster may have. Again, consulting with an insurance lawyer can help protect you during this process as they can direct you with what NOT to do or say to the adjuster.
Consult a Florida Insurance Lawyer After Hurricane Idalia
The best thing you can do for your hurricane insurance claim BEFORE filing is to contact a Florida insurance claim lawyer. Insurance policies are filled with legal jargon and can be challenging for the average person to understand fully. Insurance companies are not in the business of paying claims fairly; hiring an insurance lawyer who can handle the legal aspects will save you time and stress but, most importantly, avoid costly mistakes.
At Williams Law, P.A., our insurance lawyers specialize in interpreting insurance contracts and can help you navigate the complexities to ensure you receive the coverage you're entitled to.
If your insurance company is dragging its feet regarding your property damage claim, you should speak with an experienced insurance claim lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Florida law office at 800.451.6786 to schedule your free consultation. We help Florida residents fight the big insurance companies who fail to abide by their own policies. Remember, we work on a contingent basis, meaning you don't pay us anything until we win your case.