The storm damage insurance claim process begins by submitting an initial claim with your insurer. What happens next will depend on whether your insurance provider pays your claim in full, offers partial payment, or denies your claim.
If you are not satisfied with your settlement, you may opt to participate in state mediation or even take legal action.
What is the First Thing You Should Do If Your Property Sustains Storm Damage?
If your home suffers losses during a storm, the first thing you should do is complete a room-by-room inventory for any insurance claims you may file. You can find an inventory list and more guidance from the Florida Chief Financial Officer.
Once you have surveyed the damages, you need to determine if the value of your covered losses exceeds your policy’s deductible. If yes and the sum justifies a claim, you should begin the insurance process as soon as possible. Start by contacting your insurance provider. Upon written request, they will issue a proof-of-loss statement for you to document your losses, according to Florida Statutes § 627.425.
You do have a limited amount of time to file a claim, file a supplemental claim, or reopen a claim for windstorm or hurricane damages. If you have losses you did not discover immediately, make sure you contact your insurer as soon as you realize you have a problem. You may also have multiple claims. Hurricane insurance is separate from your regular homeowners policy, and flood insurance may be under another policy, as well.
Before meeting with an insurer, seek legal assistance from specialized storm damage lawyers. They will help you understand your rights and legal options, together with your policies’ terms, conditions, and vulnerable points that could be used to deny or minimize your claim. It is also important to have a lawyer present at any conversation with an insurance adjuster. It is a clear sign that you did your homework, you know what you want, and you won’t take less than you deserve.
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Many Hurricanes Mean Florida Has Laws Particularly for Storm Damage Claims
Florida has more hurricanes than any other state, according to the National Hurricane Center. Because it is a peninsula, virtually every area has the potential to experience damaging high winds and heavy rainfall during the storm season. This can lead to a high rate of storm damage claims.
To protect residents in the event of storm damage, Florida has a Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights, Florida Statutes § 627.7142. Outlined in the statute is a timeline for the insurance claims process:
- Once you submit your claim, your insurance provider has 14 days to acknowledge your filing.
- The insurance company has 30 days from when you submit your proof-of-loss statement to inform you that your claim will be fully paid, partially paid, or denied.
- Within 90 days, your insurer must issue you full payment, partial payment, or a denial.
What Does a Homeowners Insurance Claim Cover and How Will You Get Paid?
Homeowners insurance generally pays for coverage of your real property and the contents of your home and personal belongings. It also covers Additional Living Expense (ALE), which pays for alternative lodgings, food, and other necessities if you cannot live in your residence while it is undergoing repairs.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), you often will not receive your full payment in one installment. You will likely receive multiple checks for your property repairs, belongings, and ALEs. In some cases, your mortgage holder may receive your checks, and in other instances, the insurance company may pay your contractor for repairs directly.
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What Should You Do If Your Claim Is Not Fully Paid or Is Denied?
If you disagree with your insurer’s decision, you have two options:
- Mediation – The Florida Department of Financial Services facilitates mediation, which is conducted by a neutral, trained mediator who will try to settle your dispute. The insurance company pays for mediation, and you do not have to accept any offers they make during the process. Our lawyers can help you determine if your claim is eligible and prepare you for mediation.
- Appraisal – If your policy allows it, you can hire your own insurance appraiser. Your appraiser will attempt to reach a compromise figure with the insurance company’s appraiser. If the appraisers cannot agree, you and your insurer can split the cost of an umpire. A decision made by any two of these three parties is binding.
You Can Take Action in Civil Court
If you cannot reach an adequate settlement through a storm damage claim, you may have the right to sue your insurer for your losses. You have a limited time to take legal action. Our lawyers can tell you more about time limits.
The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine Can Help with the Insurance Claim Process
The legal team at the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can help you through every step of your storm damage insurance claim. We will make sure your insurance company is honoring your rights as a homeowner.
We will push back against underpaid or denied claims and fight for the highest settlement available for you under your policy. Find out more about how we can serve you by calling our offices at 1-800-747-3733 for a free consultation.
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