Storm damage is sometimes covered by car insurance in Florida. The outcome will depend on several factors, like the specific cause of the property damage to your car and the terms in your insurance policy.
Florida’s vulnerable location makes vehicles susceptible to damage from tropical storms, hurricanes, and other severe weather events. Fortunately, standard auto insurance policies in Florida provide coverage for storm-related damage if certain conditions are met. Understanding these stipulations is key to getting claims approved after storms.
Comprehensive coverage is part of an auto policy that covers damage to an insured vehicle from most environmental causes, including wind, hail, flooding, fallen trees/debris, lightning strikes, and fire. Comprehensive claims are paid regardless of who or what caused the damage. However, insurers usually require that the storm be officially declared a hurricane, tropical storm, or other catastrophic weather event to qualify claims for reimbursement.
If a severe thunderstorm or other isolated storm damages a vehicle, insurers may deny a comprehensive claim unless government authorities classify the event as a formal natural disaster. Obtaining documentation like local weather reports can help prove an event’s severity even if not officially declared. Photos, videos, and inspection reports clearly showing storm-related damage also strengthen claims.
In addition, comprehensive coverage does not apply if a vehicle is damaged while being driven during a storm, such as hydroplaning off the road. This would require a collision claim subject to deductibles. Comprehensive coverage only applies to parked vehicles or those damaged by falling trees/debris when not in motion. Understanding these provisions is key to receiving comprehensive claims payouts.
Consulting with an experienced attorney can help Florida vehicle owners maximize insurance reimbursement and establish necessary proof for storm-related auto damage claims. An attorney can compel insurers to provide fair compensation that vehicle owners are rightfully owed.
Your Insurance Policy Determines Your Covered Losses
Your insurance policy will state what it covers and what it excludes from coverage. There is no uniform or standard insurance policy. Every auto insurance company writes its own policies, and each company decides what it will and will not cover.
Some companies offer policies ranging from “bare bones” to more comprehensive “white glove” coverage. There is a significant difference in the costs between these types of insurance policies. You will have to read your policy to determine what it will cover and exclude. We can take a look at your policy and explain its terms to you.
There are several types of car insurance coverage in the state of Florida: personal injury protection (PIP), property damage liability (PDL), gap, collision, and comprehensive. PIP and PDL insurance are required when you purchase a car. Collision and comprehensive insurance coverage are optional policies.
When Storm Damage Will Be Covered
Storm damage to your car would only be covered under a comprehensive policy. It offers coverage for weather, fire, and other non-collision types of scenarios. Comprehensive insurance policies only pay out the current market value of your car, so it may be worth purchasing if you own a newer vehicle.
Many individuals decline to purchase comprehensive auto insurance coverage because it does add significantly to overall premiums. However, experience storm damage or any other non-collision damage and don’t have this type of coverage. You may not be able to recover any money at all for repairs or replacement.
If you want to add an optional policy to your car insurance coverage, such as comprehensive so that your auto is protected from any future storm damage, you need to make that purchase prior to any projected or approaching storm. In other words, you cannot add comprehensive policy coverage for your vehicle after news of an impending hurricane has already been announced.
Taking Before and After Pictures of Car Can Help Your Claim
Be sure to take “before” photographs of the interior and exterior of car, and keep them in a safe place to have on hand should your car sustain storm damage. Having “before” and “after” images of any personal property, including a car, is helpful when filing insurance claims.
If your car is damaged by a storm-related incident, do not make any repairs until after your insurance agent is able to assess and approve them.
The Cause of the Damage Makes a Difference
The specific event that damaged your car will control which insurance policy, if any, will pay for your losses. For example:
- Hail or other flying objects damaged your car. In this situation, your automobile policy might pay for your losses.
- Flooding damaged your car. Many insurance policies do not protect you in the event of flood damage. You would have to buy separate flood insurance, and not everyone qualifies for this coverage.
- The storm destroyed your garage, which collapsed on and damaged your car. Your homeowners insurance might protect you in this circumstance. The determination of coverage will depend on the specific facts and your policy.
We understand that insurance questions can be complicated and frustrating. People often purchase insurance and assume that the thing they own, like a car, has protection if it ever gets damaged. Unfortunately, policies contain many exclusions that can give the insurance company a reason not to pay your claim.
Check your policy and its exclusions in your existing car insurance coverage. If you have any concerns, consider purchasing additional coverage. If you live in storm-prone areas, the likelihood that you would benefit from comprehensive car insurance at some point is high. If you don’t have sufficient coverage and your auto is damaged by a storm, you may not be able to file a claim and receive any compensation.
If you are unsure regarding your insurance policy’s terms and coverage, talk to a storm damage lawyer to understand your rights, the policy loopholes and gaps the adjusters might use against you, and your legal actions. It is best to know what to expect before even talking with your insurer. Furthermore, if you must meet with an adjuster to discuss your policy, it is best to have your attorney by your side.
Sometimes, the Way the Damage Occurred Can Disqualify You from Coverage
On the other hand, if your car was in an uncovered parking area when it sustained storm damage from something like a tree falling on it, you will probably have to look to your automobile insurance policy for coverage.
Some policies exclude coverage when a policyholder drives through a water-covered street. The water depth can be hard to assess, and a car can get swept away in the current, causing severe damage to the vehicle.
Such an event could even result in injury or loss of life. This could be how your car was damaged. If so, your policy could invalidate your claim for driving on a flooded roadway. You might not get any compensation for your loss
An Act of God
Some insurance policies exclude coverage for damage sustained from an “act of God.” Your insurance policy might define this event a little differently, but here is one of the standard definitions that the insurance industry uses for an act of God:
“An accident or event resulting from natural causes, without human intervention or agency, and one that could not have been prevented by reasonable foresight or care – for example, floods, lightning, earthquake, or storms.”
Some people argue that the act of God exclusions in insurance policies defeat the very purpose for the coverage. The language of your policy will govern the outcome.
How a Lawyer at Our Firm Can Help with Your Storm Damage Insurance Questions
We can explain what your policy covers and whether your situation falls within your coverage.
Sometimes claims adjusters make mistakes about your coverage and benefits. Your insurance carrier might drag its feet, devalue your claim, or refuse to pay the covered loss. We can verify whether your insurer treats you fairly. If they do not, we could contact your insurer and demand payment for your policy’s benefits.
Our firm can negotiate with the adjuster and advocate for you. Unfortunately, some insurers will not take your claim seriously until you get a lawyer involved. Many people eventually give up and begrudgingly accept less payout than they deserve, but you do not have to do that when you have an attorney on your side. We can also:
- Take your case to court to seek a judgment
- Analyze the language of your policies
- Answer your questions
- Keep you up-to-date throughout the case
- Help you gather evidence of the damage
- Help you find new temporary living arrangements
- And more
Suing the Insurer for Bad Faith
Florida law allows us to file a bad faith lawsuit if the insurance company acts in bad faith when processing your damages claim. Florida Statutes § 624.155(1) says that we can take this action if the insurer fails to act fairly and honestly toward you when it could (and should) have settled your damages claim.
If we win this lawsuit, the law can force the insurance carrier to pay our reasonable legal fees and the court costs as well as your damages.
Tackling Your Storm Loss Case By Yourself Might Not be the Best Move
Do not let the popular belief that lawyers are expensive and intimidating stop you from securing legal help in a situation you are unfamiliar with. You might not be able to understand your insurance policy. We have taken cases like yours before and can guide you through the process.
There is always a chance you become confused at some point in your case and file paperwork incorrectly or ask for too little compensation to cover your losses. We will have your back and prevent situations like this.
How Our Firm Structures Our Payment Plan for Storm Damage Clients
We know you have a lot going on right now. You should not have to deal with securing payment for your lawyer at the same time as recovering from this incident. So, we have our clients pay us our fee through a contingency-fee arrangement. You will not have to pay us before we begin working for you.
Your lawyer will take their fee out of the award they win for you.
Getting Legal Help From the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine
At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, we help people get their lives back on track after significant losses, such as storm damage to their vehicles. Storm damage insurance claims can be nuanced and complicated. Our law firm can sort through all of the details and build evidence to support your car’s storm damage claim. We can then guide you through any negotiations or litigation.
We pride ourselves on consistently delivering responsive legal services. Call us today at 1-800-747-3733 for a free consultation and to get help with your insurance dispute. Our Florida legal team can inform you if your vehicle’s storm damage is covered by car insurance.
We Can Help.