If your homeowner’s insurance company is trying to pay you less than you feel that you deserve, has wrongly denied your claim, or is taking too long to resolve your storm loss claim, our Fort Pierce property claim lawyers can help you navigate the claims process and advocate on your behalf with the insurer.
The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can work directly with your insurance company so that you do not have to do so.
Causes of Storm Loss Property Claims in Fort Pierce, FL
Even though we enjoy having millions of tourists visiting our beautiful state every year, severe weather also comes calling, often causing damage to homes and other buildings. We can experience storm losses from:
- Tropical depressions. The National Weather Service defines tropical depressions as tropical cyclones that have maximum sustained surface winds of up to 38 mph (34 knots).
- Tropical storms have maximum sustained surface winds between 39 and 74 mph (34 to 63 knots), according to the NHS.
- Hurricanes have maximum sustained surface winds of more than 74 mph (64 knots), says the NHS.
- Tornadoes. Hurricanes and other storms can create tornadoes, which can do a great deal of damage due to their power and unpredictability.
- Lightning. Because Florida sits between two massive bodies of water, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, it gets more lightning strikes than any other U.S. state, earning it the designation as the “lightning capital” of the United States.
- Damaging wind. Even when there is not a named storm, our tropical weather can involve strong winds that can take off a roof, send objects airborne, or shatter windows.
- Hail. Many types of storms in Florida generate hail that can damage property.
- Storm surge from a hurricane or another type of storm can cause significant water damage to buildings.
Be aware that a standard homeowner’s policy usually doesn’t cover flooding. You typically have to buy separate flood insurance for protection from this type of loss.
Things to Do After Property Damage from a Storm
Insurance companies can be sticklers for following the correct procedure, so you need to make sure that you do everything you are supposed to under your policy after you sustain property damage from a storm. The exact steps you should take will depend on the details of your situation. However, here are some of the common things people can do to protect their property damage claim after a storm loss:
- Notify your insurance company. Insurers need to make arrangements for appraisers, claims adjusters, and initial repairs right away, particularly after a significant storm in which many of their policyholders sustained damage. You should notify your insurance company the same day, if possible, that you get damage from a storm.
- Talk with a lawyer right away. Getting a lawyer on board at once can help you avoid problems that can hurt the settlement value of your claim. Also, the insurer will likely route your claim along a different path once you get a lawyer.
- Collect evidence of the damage to your property. When it is safe to do so, take photographs of the interior and exterior storm damage.
- Keep proof of your other losses. This category can include things like temporary lodging and replacing items that you needed immediately, like clothing.
- Take steps to prevent more damage. Put tarps over holes or board up broken windows to minimize the likelihood of additional harm to the property.
You might need to take additional measures, depending on your circumstances.
Pitfalls of Storm Loss Property Damage Claims
Your lawyer can help you avoid situations that can decrease the amount that the insurer pays on your claim. For example, if you miss a deadline, the insurance company might deny your claim entirely. If you use the wrong claim form, the insurer might refuse to allow your submitted form as proof of your loss.
The insurer might deny your claim on the grounds that your policy does not cover your loss. For example, the insurance company might say that the damage was from an uncovered cause like flooding, when the harm actually came from a covered loss, like a storm surge.
How Our Storm Loss Property Claim Lawyers in Fort Pierce, FL Can Help You
Although the law allows you to try to handle your storm loss property claim on your own, it can be to your advantage to work with a lawyer. We will read your policy, explain your coverage, and answer your questions. It can be hard to decipher what an insurance policy means and what it covers, so our lawyers can help you to understand details about your policy that you may not be aware of
We can gather evidence and build your case. The insurance company might have denied your claim because it wanted more proof of your loss. We know what insurers usually want and can provide the necessary items to get your claim resolved.
We can negotiate directly with the insurer so that you do not have to. When you have a lawyer representing you, the insurer is not allowed to harass you. If the adjuster calls, tell him to talk to your lawyer.
Was Your Hurricane Damage Claim Unfairly Mishandled?
If the insurer refuses to pay a fair amount for your claim after we provide the proof of your loss, or violates your rights under the Florida Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights, we can file a lawsuit to pursue the compensation you deserve for your claim. The insurer might also have to pay our reasonable legal fees for a failure to pay a claim in bad faith.
Bad faith practices concerning hurricane claim coverage can happen when an insurance company uses unfair tactics to deny, delay, or underpay a legitimate claim by:
- Refusing to settle for the coverage promised in your policy
- Failing to promptly investigate your claim causing unreasonable delays, which can affect your right to claim
- Insisting you submit an unreasonable amount of evidence causing delays
- Unreasonably denying repair bills
- Alleging the damage to your property was caused before the hurricane
- Misrepresenting policy coverage
- Disputing the coverage provided in your policy
- Losses incurred for temporary repairs to secure or weatherproof your home
In some situations, outrageous conduct by the insurance company can result in the judge assessing punitive damages against the insurer.
When to Consider Hiring Legal Representation
While simple claims usually settle without trouble, there is a lot more at stake for you (and the insurance company) in hurricane storm damage claims. The damage to the home you work so hard for can be devastating, which can increase the chance of disputes related to:
- Claims where the damage is so destructive it can be difficult to prove your losses
- Large and expensive or legally complex claims (hurricane damage claims often are)
- Disputes related to policy coverage or cause of damage
- Unfair treatment by an insurance company
If you have any of the issues above, it can be beneficial to seek legal advice before talking to an insurance representative. Our first consultation is free, so there is no downside in reaching out to find out about your legal options.
Additionally, we provide our representation on a contingency fee basis, so it takes the financial stress away from pursuing your claim. We finance the cost of building your case and only recover our fees upon obtaining a favorable outcome for your claim.
How to Protect Your Right to Compensation for Your Hurricane Damage Losses
You should always do what makes sense in your situation. Here are a few suggestions of things you can do to protect your right to collect full policy benefits for your losses from a hurricane or tropical storm damage:
Notify Your Insurance Company
We understand that it can be chaotic after your house gets damaged from a significant storm system, but you have to let your homeowner’s insurance company know right away that your home got damaged and you will be filing a claim. The insurer might send a team to the area to board up and secure damaged buildings to prevent further damage and looting that could cost the insurance company more money.
Lists and Photos
If it is safe to enter the home, go through and make detailed lists of all the items damaged by the storm. Take plenty of photos from different angles to document the condition of the house inside and out.
Securing the Building
If your insurance company does not secure your home right away, you should make a reasonable effort to prevent additional damage to your house and its contents. Do not try to reach your home until the officials allow it and make your safety the first priority. You do not want to get hurt trying to put a tarp on a hole in the roof or boarding up broken windows.
Keep Your Receipts
Because you will be living on the go for a while, it will be easy to lose receipts. Get a gallon-size resealable plastic bag and put in it all your receipts for food, lodging, gas, clothing, supplies to secure the house, other items, and all other expenses you incurred because of the storm.
When you get a chance, jot down notes about the receipts. Do not give the insurance company or anyone else your only copy of the receipts. Make a few copies of the entire file of receipts and keep each full copy in a different location.
Compensation Available In a Hurricane Property Damage Claim
This year’s forecasts from the Climate Prediction Center indicate a 65% chance of an above-average hurricane activity season, so it is important to be prepared and check you have the necessary homeowners insurance.
It can be beneficial to understand the insurance coverage you have for your property and the compensation available to help you rebuild and repair should the worst happen. To give you an idea, the most common types of recoverable losses (depending on your policy coverage) after a hurricane can include:
- The cost to repair or rebuild your home, including its contents
- Recovery for the repair or replacement of garages, sunrooms, or other outbuildings
- Replacing or repairing outdoor structures such as decking, pools, or fences
- The cost of alternative accommodation while your home is being repaired
- Costs incurred to remove debris caused by the storm from your home
If you and your family have been affected by a hurricane, our lawyers can help you manage and resolve your claim efficiently and effectively. We will fight for the best possible outcome for your situation and deal with every aspect of the legal process, including settlement negotiations, dispute resolution, or court proceedings where necessary.
Getting Help for Your Fort Pierce, Florida Storm Loss Property Claim
The lawyers at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can fight for you to get the compensation you deserve for your storm loss property claim. When you are trying to rebuild your life and repair your home or commercial property, you should not have to be battling with your insurance company. We can take that task off of your shoulders so that you can take care of your other business.
We pride ourselves on delivering personal, attentive legal services to our clients. We will advocate aggressively to help get your claim resolved. – Contact our storm loss property claim lawyers in Fort Pierce today to schedule a free consultation.
We Can Help.