HURRICANE CLAIMS

Hurricanes in Florida cause devastating and costly damage to homes, businesses and property. A hurricane can destroy your entire home as well as valuable personal possessions. Roof damage can cause the house to be uninhabitable, forcing you and your family to relocate for an extended period of time.

Even if you have an insurance policy that covers your damage, there is no guarantee the insurance company will honor your claim and give you the compensation you deserve.  Oftentimes, homeowner insurance companies try to minimize payment of damages that you may be entitled to under your policy. Remember that their goal is often to pay as little as possible, which in turn can help maximize profits of the insurance company.

Insurance companies will first investigate a claim to make sure you are even covered. They may look at all of the policy exclusions to figure out what they don’t have to pay, or may start looking for policy benefit or coverage defenses. The main issue we see after a major hurricane is the flood versus windstorm damage issue. If your policy excludes flood damage, the homeowner insurance company may try to deny the claim if they can argue that the damage was caused by water or storm surge and not wind or flying debris.

What Damage May Be Covered After Hurricane Irma?

The answers depend on what insurance you have and what property is damaged.

Automobile – Damage to your car may be covered either by your Comprehensive coverage or Collision coverage, depending on the cause of the damage. Generally, if a tree falls on your car, your Comprehensive coverage should apply. You may be entitled to get the vehicle repaired, to a rental car, to money for the loss of use of your vehicle, and for diminished value of your car. Some of the damages you could recover depends on the language of your policy and the coverages you selected.

Damage to Your Home – The insurance that applies to pay for damage to your home may depend on the type of damage you have and the cause of the damage. If your home was damaged by flooding, your flood insurance may apply. If your home was damaged by wind or flying debris, your homeowner’s insurance should apply. Sometimes the language in your policy helps to determine what is covered.

Landscaping Damage – Like damage to your home, it depends on the cause. If flooding caused the damage, then your flood insurance may apply. If damage was caused by wind or debris, then your homeowner insurance may apply.

Damage to Outside Property – If you sustained damage to a shed, play set, grill, or other outside property, you may be entitled to reimbursement or replacement. The coverage depends on whether the damage was caused by flooding or wind/debris.

Disputes may also arise over the value of damaged items. We suggest that you try to itemize everything you had damaged, and come up with a value for each item that you would accept. Find support for this, like comparable items for sale online. This may make it easier to come to an agreement over what the claim should settled for.

What Can I Claim Under My Homeowner Policy?

Your policy is typically fairly general as to what it covers. Some of the damages you may be entitled to:

·         Living expenses while you are staying outside of the house

·         Money for spoiled food

·         Gas back and forth to your hotel or where you are staying

·         Hotel expenses

·         Roof repairs or replacement of entire roof

·         Painting of interior house if any walls were damaged

·         Replacement of flooring if floors sustained any damage

·         Cleaning services to clean the home after construction is completed

·         Replacement value of damages personal property

·         Mold remediation services

·         Fence repair costs

·         Hurricane shutter replacement if damaged

There are other claims you may be entitled to make under your policy. If you had any damage, you should speak with an attorney that is experienced in property damage claims before settling your claim.

Be Careful When Hiring Independent Adjusters

After a hurricane, you may see many advertisements for independent insurance adjusters. Some may even knock on your door. These people typically make a living charging you a percentage of your claim and helping to write an estimate of your damages. The problem is that if the claim doesn’t settle and you need to hire an attorney, you may then have to pay both the adjuster and attorney a percentage of the claim, leaving little left for you.

If you have to make a hurricane damage claim, you may consider hiring an attorney first before an independent adjuster and have someone on your side from the beginning. While you may pay a percentage of the claim, you would likely have done so anyway with an independent adjuster and the attorney has the ability to file a lawsuit if necessary.

Attorneys’ Fees May Be Paid By The Insurance Company

Florida law allows judges to award you attorneys’ fees and costs, paid by the insurance company. The attorneys’ fee award may help to pay all or some of your total fees or costs. 

FLORIDA STATUTE SECTION 627.428 REQUIRES AN INSURANCE COMPANY TO PAY ITS POLICYHOLDER’S REASONABLE ATTORNEYS FEES AND COURT COSTS IF THE POLICYHOLDER OBTAINS A JUDGMENT AGAINST THE INSURANCE COMPANY. 

If you have an independent adjuster, the law does not apply to them. This is another reason to choose an insurance attorney over an independent adjuster.

If you need legal assistance with a hurricane insurance claim dispute, the Russo Law Firm can help. We understand how difficult it is to rebuild and start over in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane. So in an insurance dispute, it is crucial to retain an attorney who thoroughly knows the law and can aggressively advocate for your rights and interests. At The Russo Firm we employ a full legal team of attorneys, investigators and legal support exports who can investigate the damage to your property and deal with the insurance company so you don’t have to. You deserve legal representation to counter the insurance representatives who try to save their companies money. Once engaged, our firm will send a qualified claims adjuster, engineer and/or general contractor who works for us to make sure that your claim is properly evaluated and you are fairly compensated. Our consultations are always free and if we’re engaged, it will be on a contingency fee basis. Plain and simple:  If we do not recover money damages for you, we are owed nothing, no fees or costs!

We are currently handling claims throughout the state of Florida through our east coast offices from Key West to Jacksonville and our west coast offices in Naples, Fort Myers and north.  

Please feel free to call our office at 844-847-8300 or email us at info@therussofirm.com for any questions or assistance our team can provide you.