In the US, the risk of hurricanes makes property insurance pivotal. Especially along the south east coast, there always seems to be hurricanes or upcoming hurricanes in the news and it can cause nightmares for homeowners.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), four in every ten hurricanes make landfall in Florida. In fact, Florida has more than twice as many ‘direct hits’ as the state in second place on the list of hurricane experiences; Texas. After these two, other locations where hurricanes are a constant threat include North Carolina, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
If you live in one of these states, we hope you have property insurance as protection. Considering winds can reach 110mph, your home needs more than just physical protection.
Depending on the extent of the hurricane, you might experience the following;
- Smashed windows
- Damaged outbuildings and sheds
- Doors ripped from their hinges
- Roof damage
As well as these smaller examples, some unfortunate residents have their home destroyed almost completely. If not completely, they lose a huge chunk of the home they’ve worked so hard to build. When the damage exceeds a certain point, you might consider filing a claim with your insurance provider.
Filing a Claim
If you’ve experienced damage, it’s time to claim on the insurance since you’ve been paying the premiums for so long. Confusingly, every policy seems to be different these days. Not only are there dozens of insurance providers, they each offer their own variations of popular policies. With this in mind, the first step after a hurricane needs to be to check your policy.
Step 1 - Check Your Policy
Are you covered for the damage experienced? Different policies may cover;
- Damage to your property
- Damage to contents inside the home
- Damage to outbuildings, garages, swimming pools, decks, or other structures belonging to the property
- Personal liability and medical payments for third parties
- Loss of use for homes that have experienced too much damage to remain habitable
Step 2 - Are You Covered?
Of all the potential locations for damage we mentioned previously, the roof seems to be the most common recipient. Considering the most dangerous part of hurricanes is the strong winds, these can start before the ‘main event’ and stick around for some time afterwards too. Even after the hurricane has passed through town, strong winds may follow. Of course, some hurricanes will be so concentrated that there’s absolutely no wind after passing through.
Either way, the wind can cause structural damage. Meanwhile, hurricanes accompanied by rain can cause flooding in the home; this brings up an interesting topic. Will your property insurance policy pay out for water damage?
This depends; when flooding is a result of water that has entered through the doors, windows, roof, or even holes on the wall, you will be covered. Furthermore, any flooding that occurs through wind-driven rain will also be covered. On the other hand, an overflow in a local body of water will not be protected. If the flooding came from the bottom upwards, you’re likely to be left disappointed. In this case, you should have full flooding insurance.
Step 3 - Contact an Attorney
Before filing your insurance claim, we urge you to get in touch with a professional attorney who has experience in hurricane damage and claims. At Cannella Legal, we’ve seen far too many people place their claim and then simply wait. Soon enough, a check comes through the door and they feel thoroughly underwhelmed at the amount.
If you receive a check before then signing and cashing it, this is you confirming receipt of the money and accepting it as payment (i.e. you can’t cash the check in the meantime while requesting more). As soon as the check is cashed, negotiations are over, and the case is closed.
If you’ve already claimed and you’ve received an amount that isn’t close to what you need, an experienced hurricane claims attorney can help. After getting in touch, they will review your policy, assess the damage, and see whether you have a case for a larger amount.
For example, Cannella Legal will take on your case and fight for the money you deserve. Depending on the case in question, the insurer might decide to settle after seeing our evidence, or they will be happy to go to court. Thankfully, we have the resources to allow this to happen. If they sent less money than requested or even denied a claim in bad faith, they will be forced to pay our fees.
Importance of Evidence
If you’re reading this as a precaution or after re-entering your home after a hurricane, we’re sorry to hear about the damage. As soon as you walk in, your initial reaction will be to start tidying as much as you can…stop. Instead, grab the camera (or your smartphone) and get some images of the damage. Although it can be hard to see your home in this state, it could be pivotal later in the process.
When claiming, and we can assist with this, you should be looking to compile as much evidence and information as possible. Especially after a hurricane, you know the provider will be receiving a huge volume of claims. If yours is incomplete and needs more detail, this will slow everything right down; it’s better to include everything from the start.
As well as contact information and dates, you can include details regarding emergency services and their role. Was a police report made? In some cases, homeowners are able to claim with utility companies alongside the insurance provider so keep this in mind.
In our experience, damage to a home is more than what can be seen on first look. Where water is involved, this can get into all the plug sockets and even into the walls. As you repair, this may drive up the costs (while also reducing the value of your home).
If you’re still unsure of whether or not you should claim, insurance companies these days need to have a very good reason to reject you. With Cannella Legal by your side, their evidence would have to supersede our own and this will be hard for them to achieve. Luckily, insurance providers can no longer call a hurricane an ‘Act of God’ and then forget about you.
Choose Cannella Legal
With our experience, we know what the insurance companies look for, how they try to wriggle free from their responsibilities, and their history with letting down honest policyholders. Therefore, we’re on a mission to help those who deserve money to rebuild their homes (and their lives).
When you call us, the whole process will start with a consultation. You can tell us everything, we can assess the damage and the estimate you received, and we’ll be on your side. If an insurance company rejects a claim and is later found to have acted in bad faith, they will be obligated to pay for your attorney fees. Therefore, it’s a risk-free situation. Call us today; we would love to assist you!