Hurricanes can cause a great deal of property damage which is why people who live in hurricane zones typically pay for a combination of flood and home insurance coverage. While many people throughout parts of Florida have insurance, you should know that insurance companies don’t always cover the damages.
It may be hard to accept that in some cases insurance companies will deny you coverage or provide you with insufficient compensation. That said, it is a reality for many policyholders throughout the state.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when your insurance company refuses to pay for hurricane damage or gives you a lowball offer.
Check Your Policy and Understand Why You May Not be Covered
Certain insurance companies don’t cover repairs to your home — or any damage caused by a hurricane if the policy doesn’t include coverage for natural disasters. It’s important to find out exactly what your insurance policy covers before taking legal action against your insurance company.
You should know that there aren’t insurance policies designed specifically to cover hurricane damage in Florida. Instead, policyholders need a combination of flood and homeowners insurance to give themselves the coverage they would need.
While you can use a homeowners insurance policy to cover wind damage caused by a hurricane, it’s also important to have flood insurance. In the state of Florida, homeowners insurance must cover wind damage resulting from a hurricane by law. However, water damage is a whole different story which is why homeowners looking to insure themselves against possible hurricane damage should also take out a food insurance policy. For damage that was uninsured, you can try to seek assistance from FEMA for financial relief after suffering certain kinds of damage from a hurricane.
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Negotiate a Fair Settlement with Your Insurance Company
The first thing most people do when dealing with an insurance company after their property sustained hurricane damage is to try to negotiate a fair settlement with them on their own. Unfortunately, most insurance companies will try to lowball you with an offer that is far below what you stand to earn if you take them to court. If you opt to negotiate with the insurance company, you should know that you have 3 years to make a claim citing hurricane damage.
When you’re already under stress from going through the hurricane itself; the last thing you need to do is let the insurance company drag the situation out. You should keep a written record of every conversation you have with the insurance company as you may need that information if you take them to court.
Be sure to include the date you called or e-mailed them, the names of the people you spoke with, and a brief summary of the conversation. In many cases, the insurance adjuster will want to meet with you in person to inspect the damage. Be sure to document the date, time, and place of the meeting, and bring someone with you. Having a lawyer with you can be beneficial as they can keep the insurance adjuster in check.
Suing Your Insurance Company
If you can’t settle with your insurance company, you may have to consider a lawsuit. Insurance companies can be very creative in generating reasons to reject a claim for hurricane damage.
One of the biggest mistakes you could make when filing a claim for hurricane damage with your insurance company is to believe that they are on your side or that they will be fair. You have to remember that an insurance company is a business, and that means its primary function is to make money. The more they pay out in claims, the less money make which is why they can be very resistant when handling a claim.
Insurance companies can try to reject a claim involving hurricane damage by insisting that the policyholder didn’t take enough preventative action to prevent the damage. Alternatively, they can try and argue that the damage in question was pre-existing and was not caused by the hurricane.
This is why it’s so important to take pictures of the property before and after a hurricane strikes. When you can show the condition of the property both before and after the storm, it makes it more difficult for an insurance company to say that the damage was pre-existing.
Another argument that an insurance company could use to try and reject a claim is that the policyholder committed an error in the claims process or that they don’t have enough evidence.
Many people choose to get a lawyer when their insurance companies use such arguments against them in an effort to reject their claim. After getting a lawyer, you can take your insurance company to court to pursue appropriate compensation.
When you have a good lawyer that knows how insurance companies work, you can earn much more than what the insurance company would have given you voluntarily. It’s important to remember that when someone’s home has been severely damaged or destroyed by a hurricane and they have an insurance policy, they should be able to expect fair compensation. That said, taking an insurance company to court is often the best way to get it.
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Hurricanes are some of the most destructive weather events in the world. Sadly, there is no way to completely prevent them or avoid them when they occur. This means that you should prepare yourself for the worst by purchasing a good insurance policy that covers all of the potential damages that can occur as a result of a hurricane.
If your insurance company refuses to pay for hurricane damage, you can put the tips you learned here into action and be sure you get what’s rightfully yours.
In Need of Legal Advice? The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine Can Help.
Contact us today to explore your legal options and determine if you qualify for financial compensation. You may be able to collect a higher amount than what your insurance company is offering you after filing a claim for hurricane damage.
Call the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine at 1-888-816-9520 for a free consultation.
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