Insurance companies prohibit buyers from purchasing new homeowners’ insurance policies or increasing the limits on their existing policy if a natural disaster such as a tropical storm or hurricane is imminent.
If a hurricane watch is issued 24 to 48 hours before the hurricane is expected to make landfall, buying extra insurance or new insurance for your home may be impossible. Hurricane season in Florida begins June 1st and ends on November 30th.
Extra Insurance During Hurricane Season
One insurance policy is usually not enough to cover all the types of damage that can happen in your home after a hurricane. You may need to purchase insurance that provides coverage in case there is wind or flood damage as well. It is a good idea to purchase the insurance you need to protect your home in advance of hurricane season. Flood insurance, which is issued by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, usually institutes a 30-day waiting period on any new policy they issue.
Moratoriums for New Policies
Moratoriums, also known as binding prohibitions, are issued by insurance companies for certain high-risk areas. During hurricane season, insurance companies wait until 24 to 48 hours before the impact to issue a moratorium on buying new policies. Moratoriums can remain in effect until 24 to 78 hours after the hurricane has passed.
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What to Do After the Storm Is Over
If your home sustained damage from a hurricane or tropical storm, there are some actions you can take once the storm is over, including:
- Documenting the damage: Before beginning to put your home back together, take photographs or video of your home to illustrate the extent of the damage. It can be helpful to take before-and-after pictures or videos to better connect the damages to the disaster.
- Documenting your expenses: Document and keep receipts of any expenses you incurred before, during, and after the hurricane.
- Updating your insurance coverage: This may be a good time to look at the insurance coverage you have and determine if it was enough to cover all your losses. If not, purchase extra insurance before the next hurricane watch or warning is issued later in the season to ensure your home is protected.
Another thing we recommend you to do is contact a hurricane lawyer to review your documents, evidence, and insurance policy. Moreover, when you meet with an insurance adjuster after the storm, it is best to have an attorney by your side. This way, they will not try anything unsavory like processing delays, small payments, claim denials, etc.
Review Your Policies Carefully
As part of the mortgage loan process in Florida, your mortgage lender may require you to have flood and wind damage insurance on the property securing the loan, especially if your home is in a flood zone. These types of insurance will cover damage to your property after a hurricane has hit since there is no such thing as ‘hurricane’ insurance. This means you might already have the supplemental insurance you need.
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When to Purchase More Insurance
Timing is everything when it comes to having the right insurance to cover your property in the event of a hurricane. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that hurricanes will increase in intensity and that intense hurricanes will occur more frequently over the next few decades. Scientists have found that global warming is making hurricanes more dangerous every year, so making sure you have the right coverage for your property before a hurricane hits is advised.
If you live in Florida, you will experience hurricanes and tropical storms that are dangerous and destructive. The best defense against catastrophic hurricane damage is to have comprehensive coverage that protects you against floods, wind, and other damage from hurricanes. Don’t wait until disaster strikes.
Securing the Payment You Need
Even in cases where the property owner does everything right – they buy sufficient insurance well in advance of a storm, document the damage done, and file a claim with their insurance provider in a timely fashion – it may be more difficult than it should be to get the money you need to rebuild.
Despite stating they are in business to help others, insurance companies too often prioritize their own bottom line. They may try to reduce your payout or deny payment altogether by stating that:
- You did not buy your policy early enough to cover the storm damage.
- You did not buy the right type of insurance to cover your home’s damage.
- The damage was caused by something other than the storm, so it is not covered under your policy.
In many cases, the insurance company will want to investigate your claim before authorizing a payment. They may visit your property, examine any relevant documentation you have, and talk to you about how the damage occurred. This investigation may be conducted in good faith, or it may be done to poke holes in your claim.
How to Deal with Insurers
Not all insurance adjusters will try to avoid a fair payment. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. Hiring a property claim attorney can signal to the insurer that you are taking your claim seriously and will not allow them to undervalue your claim.
If an insurance adjuster tries to contact you, it is important to cooperate with them. It is just as important to protect your rights. You can respond to their inquiries by:
- Keeping your responses as short as possible – this way, they have less material with which to undermine your claim
- Informing your lawyer whenever they contact you and tell them what was said in the conversation
- Attending all insurance meetings with your lawyer rather than going alone
- Allowing your lawyer to handle all communications and meetings with the insurance adjuster
It may also be a good idea to let a property claim attorney go over your insurance policy if the insurance company refuses to honor your agreement. Your lawyer can help you understand your rights and tell you whether or not the insurance adjuster is treating your claim fairly.
Talk to a Property Claims Lawyer to Learn More
If a hurricane or other natural disaster damaged your home and your insurance company has denied or undervalued your property claim, we may be able to help. Call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine today at 1-800-747-3733 for a free consultation. We can review your insurance policy and advise you about your options.
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