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Hurricane Season: Answers to Your Frequently-Asked Questions

Mon Oct 17th, 2022 on     Homeowners Insurance,    

The attorneys at Ver Ploeg & Marino have many years of combined experience working with windstorm/hurricane insurance, and we are standing by to review your hurricane damage claim or dispute to see how we can help. In the following sections, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about hurricane/windstorm property insurance, reasons for claim denials, and how an attorney can help with your claim. 

What Should I Do After My Property is Damaged by a Hurricane or Storm? 

One of the first things to do after your home has been experienced, after checking on the safety of everyone in the home and receiving medical treatment if necessary, is to document the damage. Take as many photos as possible of the damage to provide evidence when you are pursuing damage. 

To provide valuable evidence for an insurance claim, it is especially helpful to take photos of your home and valuables before storm season, yes before. When your home and belongings are damaged by the storm, having photos of their condition prior to the storm can support the amount and outcome of your insurance settlement. 

Has Homeowners’ Insurance in Florida Changed Recently?

New laws have come into effect in Florida that impact homeowners’ insurance. The level of coverage on many policies across the board was reduced while the amount of deductibles has increased. This has resulted in practical differences in recovering your insurance benefits now as compared to hurricane seasons in the past. 

In the past, homeowners’ insurance generally covered wind damage and hail damage, and in the event you could not achieve coverage, you could take them to court. Many recent Florida homeowners’ insurance policies require arbitration, which is a third-party mediation of the dispute that does not enter the courts where your rights may be best protected. 

The best way to ensure that your rights are protected in the event your home is damaged by a hurricane is by thoroughly reviewing your insurance policy and requiring that the insurance company abide by its policies. Working with a Florida hurricane insurance lawyer ensures that the insurance company is held accountable to their obligations and that you recover the full amount to which you are entitled. 

What Should I Look Out For in Florida Homeowners’ Insurance Policies? 

While it seems like having a law degree and practical experience as a lawyer is essential to understand your homeowners’ insurance company, it is still important to review your coverage. When you know what your coverage entitles you to, it is easier to recover it. One of the first things to look at when reviewing your coverage is the price of your premium and the amount of your coverage. 

Often, the price will be the main factor in the choice of homeowners’ insurance, but the unfortunate reality is the lower the price, the lower the coverage. It may be advantageous to save a bit of money in the short term, but if your home experiences catastrophic damage and your coverage only extends to minor damage, you’ll be left covering the related bills. 

Consider the value of your home and your personal property prior to deciding upon an insurance policy. Knowing the value of what you are insuring is the best way to purchase the coverage you need to protect your assets and property. Some of the most common policy issues that we have seen our clients encounter are damage resulting from the rain and hail of hurricane season. 

Personal property damage due to rain and hail can lead to substantial structural damage, moisture-related damage including mold, the complete loss of value of an automobile, and other costly outcomes. Carefully review your policy to ensure that your home, your personal property, and vehicles on your property are also covered. 

Will the Insurance Company Play Fair and Offer Me What I am Entitled To? 

The process of filing a homeowners’ insurance claim can be complex and time-consuming, and while you might think that the insurance company you pay premiums to works for you, they do not. Insurance companies work for profit, and they will do whatever it takes to increase their profit margins, which includes aggressively cutting costs. To the insurance company, their largest cost is payments made to claimants like yourself. 

Insurance companies have been known to willfully misinterpret insurance policies to improperly deny coverage or to reduce the amount paid out. A wrongful denial of your insurance claim can entitle you to a lawsuit to recover compensation for your damages. In some cases, the court will require the insurance company to pay your Florida hurricane insurance dispute attorney so that you pay nothing for your legal representation. If you think your hurricane damage-related claim has been wrongfully denied, reach out to a Florida hurricane insurance attorney now. 

How Much is an Attorney for Property Insurance Disputes? 

The amount that your property insurance attorney costs will depend upon the unique facts and circumstances of your case. During your free initial consultation, your attorney will collect some basic facts about the damage to your property and the circumstances surrounding it, as well as information about your insurance coverage. If you have yet to file a claim, we can help you through the process on an hourly basis to make the most of your settlement.

If your insurance claim has been wrongfully denied, has not been paid either in part or in full, or your rights are otherwise being violated, we can file a lawsuit on your behalf. In some circumstances, Florida Statute 627.428 requires that the insurance company pay the legal fees of the filing plaintiff in certain residential and commercial property disputes. Your attorney will determine if this might apply to your case, and if so, the insurance company will pay your attorney’s fees and you pay nothing out-of-pocket. 

At What Point in the Process Can a Hurricane Insurance Lawyer Help Me with My Claim? 

Working with a hurricane insurance attorney is advantageous no matter what stage of the process you are in. If your home has just been damaged, your lawyer will help you complete the claims process, which includes:

  • Collecting evidence – You can only collect damages that you can prove with evidence, and your attorney will assist you in gathering the evidence necessary for you to recover the full damages you are entitled to through your claim. 
  • Drafting your claim -The evidence then must be incorporated into an insurance claim that follows the necessary formatting requirements and includes all the evidence needed to convince the insurance company to cover your damages. 
  • Filing your claim – You must file with the appropriate insurance company by the deadline that is allowed. 
  • Negotiating your settlement – Ideally, a complete settlement can be negotiated with the insurance company without the need for a trial, as this provides you with full damages sooner than later so that you can repair your home and get on with your life. 
  • Taking the insurance company to court – When the insurance company wrongfully denies your claim, offers too little, or engages in any other bad faith activities, we will take them to court to require them to cover the full damages you deserve. 

Whether you are in the evidence collection phase of filing a claim or your claim has already been denied, a hurricane insurance lawyer can help. Contact our office today.

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