After a hurricane in Fort Lauderdale, FL, there are steps you should take to protect your right to compensation for your losses. What you do in the first few days will have a lasting impact on you financially.
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Contact Your Homeowner’s Insurance Company
As soon as the danger passes, you should contact your insurance company if your home was damaged in the storm. Your policy most likely requires you to provide the insurer with prompt or timely notice of a loss. Policies seldom define what they mean by prompt or timely, so you should let them know right away; on the same day as the event, if possible.
The insurance companies mobilize groups of professionals to go into an area after a hurricane and assess the damage. They need to know where to send these teams. With hundreds or thousands of claims for them to process, you want to get on the list immediately.
Services That Your City Provides After a Hurricane
Fort Lauderdale is very experienced when it comes to hurricanes. The city government has a response plan to perform these tasks after the storm passes:
- Go through all areas of the city to assess the amount of debris and damages and prioritize the hardest-hit areas.
- Erect temporary sites to manage debris.
- Collect the debris with specialized equipment. They will remove the items blocking access to emergency vehicles first. The second priority will be unbagged storm debris placed at the curbs.
While removing debris is an essential function after a hurricane, this task does not address damage to your home. You will have to look to your homeowner’s insurance for help with repairing or rebuilding your house.
Take Photos of the Storm Damage
The condition of the storm damage can change from one day to the next, particularly if there are ongoing rainstorms and other weather events. You should document thoroughly how the damage looked before anything changes. As soon as it is safe to do so, you should photograph everything that might be relevant to your insurance claim, both inside your home and outside.
Videos can help portray a more accurate picture of the overall situation than still photos, but both stills and videos can help the insurer process your claim. Get close-ups and distance shots. Do not overlook damaged personal property that will be part of your claim.
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Protect Your Home
If you have exterior damage, you should board it up or secure a tarp over it to prevent further harm, if you can do so without risking your safety. Some policies will exclude coverage for additional damage that happens if, for example, holes in the roof allow water to flow into the home.
Check with your insurer about what to do if you have exterior damage. Some companies prefer to send their own crews to secure homes until proper repairs can take place.
Keep All Your Receipts
Your homeowner’s insurance might provide benefits that reimburse you for the cost of lodging, meals, and other travel expenses if you had to leave your house because of damage from a hurricane. You will have to submit documentation of these out-of-pocket costs.
Make it easy on yourself and designate something, like a large resealable plastic bag, where you will immediately place all receipts. The bag will help you keep the papers together and protect them from rain or other water damage.
Work With Your Insurance Company on the Claim
As soon as your adjuster asks you to send them a document, sign a form, or submit to an inspection of the premises, do so. Remember that your claim is only one of hundreds or thousands. A delay of a few days on your part can mean that you might have to wait additional weeks or months to get your claim paid.
Talk to a Lawyer
In many cases, insurers process most hurricane damage claims within a reasonable amount of time and pay a fair amount to their policyholders. When you do not receive this kind of outcome, you might want to talk to a lawyer.
At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, we can contact the insurance company on your behalf and advocate for you. We can work with the adjuster to discover why the carrier denied your claim or refused to pay you a fair amount. We can negotiate with the company and try to get you the compensation that you deserve.
Sometimes, the only way to get an acceptable result is to file a lawsuit. If the insurer refuses to resolve your claim honestly or fairly, we can use a Florida law that lets us sue the carrier for bad faith. If we win, the judge can order the insurance company to pay your claim, the court costs, and our attorney fees.
Our law firm goes the extra mile for our clients. We deliver responsive legal services. We also handle personal injury cases. Call us today at 1-800-747-3733 for help with your Fort Lauderdale hurricane damage claim.