You can’t prevent hurricanes as a Florida resident, but you may be able to prevent issues with insurance coverage if your home or property gets damaged by a hurricane or tropical storm. Taking the right steps after a hurricane can help you prepare a stronger insurance claim and get the coverage that you deserve. Use the following tips to help ensure coverage after hurricane damage.
Double-Check Your Insurance Policy
First, understand the terms of your insurance policy. Find out what it covers and what it does not cover ahead of time, such as when you first purchase a policy. Read the fine print on your policy documents carefully, checking for exclusions and policy limits. If you do not have a copy of your insurance policy, ask your insurer to send you one. Understanding your policy can also help you follow your insurer’s rules, such as claim filing requirements, for a valid claim.
File Your Claim on Time
Report your hurricane damage to your insurance company without delay. Most insurance companies have rules or deadlines on when to file a claim, such as within 72 hours of discovering the damage. Note, however, that Florida’s deadline for filing a property damage lawsuit is four years. Filing a claim promptly can ensure that you meet any applicable deadlines, as well as avoid issues such as the insurance company accusing you of insurance fraud.
Mitigate Your Losses
You are responsible for mitigating, or minimizing, the amount of damage that you suffered from a hurricane in Florida. Your insurance company expects you to take reasonable steps and actions to reduce any further damage to your property while you wait for repairs or an evaluation. For example, if the hurricane damaged your roof or windows, you are expected to patch any holes to avoid further water damage inside of your home.
Prove Your Losses
Before you touch anything or make temporary repairs, however, you should always photograph and carefully document your damaged property. Your insurance company will ask for proof of the losses or property damage that you are claiming occurred due to a hurricane. This evidence may include pictures, video footage, a comprehensive list of everything that was damaged in the natural disaster, and receipts or bills associated with repairs. The more evidence that you have of your losses, the greater your chances are of recovering fair compensation from an insurance provider.
Watch Out for Insurance Bad Faith in Florida
After you file your hurricane damage claim, be wary of the possibility of insurance bad faith. Bad faith refers to an insurance provider carelessly or intentionally mishandling a claim. Insurance companies have a legal responsibility to handle all claims in a good-faith attempt to resolve them. Failing to do so, either unintentionally or in an attempt to save money on a payout, is referred to as insurance bad faith.
If your homeowners or renters insurance company has rejected your hurricane damage claim without a valid reason, is offering less than you believe your claim is worth, or is taking an unnecessarily long time investigating or responding to your claim, these are all signs of insurance bad faith. You have the right to bring a separate lawsuit against an insurance company for cases of bad faith in Florida.
Has Your Home Insurance Company Denied Or Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim In Florida?
If your insurance company is dragging their 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 Tampa, Florida law office directly at 800.451.6786 to schedule your free consultation. We help Florida residents just like you 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.