- Future Florida hurricane seasons are expected to bring larger and slower-moving hurricanes, increasing property damage risks.
- To improve insurance claim success, take photos of property damage, create an inventory of damaged items, and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
- Hiring a Florida hurricane damage lawyer can help maximize compensation and navigate insurance company delays or denials.
After beaches and Disney, the state of Florida is most famous for its hurricane season. In Florida, hurricanes are a recurring threat, and it’s crucial that Florida residents be prepared – not just for the storm itself but for the property damage in the aftermath. The Russo Firm can help you file a property damage claim and the compensation your home insurance owes you.
Florida Hurricane Statistics
In 2022, Hurricane Ian alone claimed 92 Floridian lives and caused anywhere from $30-$60 Billion in property damages.
Hurricanes are unlikely to slow down any time soon, according to FSU’s Florida Climate Center. Hurricanes will likely become larger and move slower in the future, increasing hazards like property damage. Unfortunately, insurance claims can be a messy process, and Florida hurricane damage claims are no exception.
Steps to Take Before a Hurricane
Before the hurricane strikes and once all your preparations are done, make sure to do the following to increase your chances of a successful hurricane damage claim.
- Take inventory of all your valuables
- Take photos of your property, paying close attention to valuables
- And even better, take a few long videos of your property. Walk through your house with your phone and record everything: your art, appliances, valuables, electronics, etc. Do the same thing on the outside of the house.
- Find and read your home insurance coverage policy.
Steps to Take Immediately Following a Hurricane
Once you and your loved ones are out of immediate danger, there are a few important actions that can greatly increase your chances of success with an insurance claim.
- First, take extensive photos of the damage to your property. You want as much documentation as possible to support your claim. It’s also a good idea to create an inventory of damaged items.
- Next, take steps to mitigate the damage. Don’t make any permanent repairs until you know you’ll be reimbursed – instead, take any temporary repairs that you can to avoid further damage to your property, which could jeopardize your insurance claim.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in Hurricane Damage Claims
It can be difficult to navigate insurance claims, especially when you’re dealing with a natural disaster. It’s easy to make mistakes. Unfortunately, insurance companies are always looking for reasons not to pay. Every dollar they pay out takes away from their profits.
For a little piece of mind, here are a few common mistakes to avoid in your Florida hurricane damage claim.
Not Understanding Your Insurance Policy
A good grasp of your coverage is essential when you’re navigating an insurance claim. Knowing what is and isn’t covered can be crucial for hurricane damage, especially when many Florida home insurance policies cover windstorm and flood damage separately.
Not Keeping Proper Documentation
You should have a record of everything that happens in your case. The initial damages to your property should be well documented, along with any costs of repair. It’s also a good idea to communicate with your insurance company in writing and keep copies in your records.
You cannot have too many records. If it’s useless later, so what? If you don’t have a copy of that one letter, that could be a problem.
Not Filing on Time
You don’t have to worry about insurance right away—usually, you have up to a year to file. But waiting until the end of this deadline will not be good for anyone. You should file as soon as possible.
Failing to Prevent Further Damage
As the homeowner, it is your responsibility to avoid further damage to your property, a process known as “mitigating your damages.” A tarp over a broken window, for instance, will make sure that any damage to the interior was verifiably caused by the storm and covered by your insurance policy.
You can also hire companies that specifically provide tarping services for roofs or tarp it yourself.
Communicating Without a Lawyer
Technical details matter when filing an insurance claim, and insurance companies have lawyers, adjusters, and other experts reviewing what you send them. If you have major damage or foresee a problem, you should probably speak to a property damage lawyer before giving a written or recorded statement.
Taking the First Offer
Most insurance companies will make a low offer at first, hoping you’ll have bigger problems to deal with than negotiating for a better payout.
Avoid taking the first offer—it’s usually less than they’re required to cover you for.
Understanding the Florida Hurricane Damage Claims Process
The Florida hurricane damage claims process can be confusing. There are a lot of people to talk to and details to get right. Here’s a simple version of the process:
- First, collect any information you may need in your case. Review your coverage and document any damages.
- Next, contact your insurance company and, preferably, a qualified attorney. You usually need to inform your insurance provider soon after the damage. Speaking with a Florida hurricane damage lawyer is helpful here—it can sometimes be confusing to know what exactly you need to say to the insurance company and when.
- Finally, report the claim. You’ll need to include your policy number, the address at which the damage was sustained, and a brief description of the damages. Refer to your policy for specifics.
- From there, your insurance provider will contact you with how to proceed next. Working with an attorney can also help keep you informed on this process. When you work with an attorney, especially on a delayed or undervalued claim, they can get you way more money than you would on your own, even after their fee.
What Happens if My Hurricane Damage Claim is Denied?
If your insurance claim is denied, don’t panic. It’s not over yet.
First, you can appeal the decision directly with the insurance provider. They’ll provide a reason that they denied the claim—often insufficient evidence or failure to file on time—and you can address those issues in your appeal.
If you would feel more comfortable having a professional who does this all the time handle your case, you can hire a lawyer. They will make a demand on your behalf, be aggressive in negotiations, and may take the insurance company to trial if necessary.
What Compensation Can I Receive for My Damages?
In Florida, especially on the coast, many insurance policies are created with hurricanes in mind. Often, coverage will include losses sustained from the high winds and rain but not any subsequent flooding. Hint: adding flood insurance to your claim is very important if you live in a flood zone.
Many Florida insurance policies, particularly on the coast, will also include a deductible, an amount that you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket before the insurance policy kicks in.
Typically, you can expect Florida hurricane claims that are covered by your policy to pay for:
- Replacing or repairing your roof, windows, fences, and other damage caused by the storm.
- Water damage cleanup costs, depending on whether you have flood insurance or how the water damage was caused.
- Tree removal or clean-up services.
- Replacement of your valuables that were lost during the storm.
- Repairing any damage to your car caused by falling objects.
- And anything else that the storm cost you within reason.
Reasons to Hire a Florida Hurricane Damage Lawyer
In general, it’s a good idea to hire a lawyer if you suffered significant property damage, your claim was denied, or your claim was seriously undervalued.
A good attorney with experience handling Florida hurricane damage claims can get things done quickly and accurately while getting you the maximum compensation.
Plus, it can take a huge burden off your shoulders in the aftermath of a hurricane.
If the insurance company is delaying your claim or refusing to negotiate, you’re going to want a lawyer to represent you. They have a team of lawyers on their side, and they’re looking for any excuse to avoid paying. So you better have a team on your side too.
Contact The Russo Firm ASAP If Your Home Was Damaged by a Florida Hurricane
When you’re dealing with hurricane damage to your home, the problems that pile up can feel overwhelming. You may not have the time, energy, or necessary skill to deal with getting stonewalled by insurance companies.
That’s where The Russo Firm comes in. Difficult times are a little easier with a good lawyer watching your back. We can get you the best results possible on your claim while you focus on your home and your family.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do I have to file a claim after hurricane damage?
In the state of Florida, you have one year after the hurricane makes landfall to file a claim for damages.
However, as you’re dealing with repairs and other issues, other costs may arise, or your initial estimates may need adjusting. These “supplemental damages” claims are not subject to the one-year time limit.
One important note here: you have a year to formally file an insurance claim, but you should inform your insurance provider of the damage to your property right away. It can only help your case, and it’s often a requirement in your insurance policy.
How much does it cost to hire a Florida hurricane damage lawyer?
The Russo Firm will never charge you upfront. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning if we recover compensation for you, we take a percentage of it. In most cases, the homeowner ends up receiving way more money when they have a lawyer, even after the fees, than they would if they handled the claim on their own.