Filing Property Insurance Claims For Hurricane Irma Damage
Hurricane Irma is the largest storm to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. With mandatory evacuations and 185 mph winds – the threat to human lives and homes is apparent. If your home, condominium, or business property has been damaged by a storm, hurricane, tornado, or other wind event, it is important to act quickly in order to protect your property and to preserve your ability to pursue a property insurance claim for the repair of this damage. If you do not take immediate action, your property may incur additional damage by being exposed to the elements because of the initial storm damage.
The attorneys at Williams Law, P.A., understand how to successfully file Florida insurance claims – and how to effectively represent our clients’ interests when insurers refuse to pay valid claims. We focus almost exclusively on helping clients throughout Florida with insurance claims from the start of a claim through trial, if necessary.
Although you should always consult with an insurance claim professional when placing a significant property damage claim, the following insurance claim tips will help you through the claim process.
Important Irma Deadlines
Deadline for Filing a Flood Damage Proof of Loss:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued letters advising all policyholders that the deadline to file a Proof of Loss for Hurricane Irma flood damage claims has been extended to 365 days from the date of the loss.
Deadline for Filing a Flood Damage Lawsuit:
Depending upon the language of your flood policy, in most instances you have just one year from the date of your insurance company’s settlement offer or denial letter to file a lawsuit.
Deadline for Filing Property Damage Lawsuit (ie: wind):
Depending upon the language of your homeowners or commercial insurance policy, in most instances you have just two years from the date of your insurance company’s settlement offer or denial letter to file a lawsuit.
Contact your property insurance company as soon as possible
Most property insurance policies mandate that you give notice to the insurance carrier “immediately” after the damage occurs. If you wait too long to contact the insurance company, the carrier may claim that it was “prejudiced” by your “delay” in notifying the carrier of your claim and may attempt to avoid covering your claim as a result.
Always get everything in writing
It is important to always document all communications so that you can avoid any conflicts or misunderstandings down the road.
Take pictures – lots of pictures
These pictures will be important to show the condition of your property after the storm and to document the damage. It is also crucial to document any damage to personal property (furniture, clothing, electronics) so that you can seek adequate reimbursement for the loss of such items.
Choose your repair company carefully
Always hire the best and most qualified repair contractor, and not necessarily the cheapest. Remember that you have the right to pick your own repair contractor, even though many insurance companies will try to steer you towards their own preferred vendors in an effort to minimize costs. You may want to get estimates from several vendors in order to compare and to make sure your property is repaired correctly.
Always request a copy of the repair estimate prepared by the insurance company
Make sure to review the estimate for any missed repair items. It may be important for you to retain the assistance of an attorney, public adjuster, or other insurance claim professional to evaluate the scope and pricing of the insurance company’s estimate.
Review Proof of Loss and other documents carefully
The insurance adjuster will often request that you sign a Proof of Loss or similar document prior to issuing payment to you for your claim. You must review this document carefully because, through the execution of this Proof of Loss, you are agreeing to the scope, pricing and method of repair set forth in the Proof of Loss. If you haven’t already done so, it may be crucial at this point to speak with an insurance claim professional who can explain your rights and duties relating to the Sworn Proof of Loss and the effect that signing the Proof of Loss could have upon your claim.
Make sure vendor contracts are approved by the insurance company
Before signing any vendor contract – whether for cleanup, repair, restoration or otherwise – make sure that the contract has been approved by the insurance company. Although you would always have recourse against your insurance company for its refusal to pay for your repairs, it would be better to know the insurance company’s position prior to your incurring the cost of the repairs.
Know what your policy covers
Be aware that your insurance policy provides coverage for things beyond just the repair of the damage to your home. For instance, if the damage or repair causes you to be out of your home or business for a period of time, your policy most likely provides coverage for Alternative Living Expense or ALE. This Alternative Living Expense coverage will reimburse the costs incurred to live elsewhere while the damage to your property is being repaired.
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If your insurance claim has been delayed, denied or underpaid, schedule your free consultation with our law firm today. Contact us online or call us at (800) 451-6786.