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Top 6 Reasons Hurricane Claims Are Denied

Tue May 17th, 2022 on     Insurance Claims,    

Hurricane season is right around the corner, and for those of us living in the sunshine state, it means it is time to be on high alert for any storms forming in the Atlantic Ocean. Hopefully, if you are reading this, you are well insured and ready for anything this year’s hurricane season brings our way. But what if your property is damaged in a hurricane, and your claim is denied? What are the most common reasons these denials occur? A Miami insurance claim lawyer from our firm explains.

Lack of Documentation

Your insurance company may deny your claim from coverage based upon a lack of documentation. Because of this, we highly recommend taking photos or a video of your home and property whenever it is predicted that a hurricane is heading your way. Keep this documentation in a safe place. Then, after the hurricane passes through, take more photos and videos of the damage that was caused. Having “before” and “after” photographic evidence of the damage the hurricane caused to your property will go far in proving your claim, and your Miami insurance claim lawyer will thank you for it! Remember, the insurance company will try to deny your claim whenever possible, so taking these extra steps is definitely worth it.

Property Not Secured

Sometimes, even when it is obvious that the damage experienced by your property is the result of a hurricane, the insurance company will deny coverage based on your failure to secure the property. This means that the insurance company is stating that had you taken precautionary steps in securing your property prior to the storm, the damage would not have occurred. In reality, no one really knows how high the winds will reach prior to the storm, and in many situations, residents are in a time crunch to leave before the storm hits. Evacuations take time, and you need to be sure you leave in enough time to get to somewhere that is safe.

High Deductible

Deductibles for damages caused by a hurricane are often pretty high. Because the deductible is high, the insurance company may claim that the amount of money needed to repair your property is less than the actual deductible, and therefore, you will not receive any money from the insurance company. When this occurs, it is best to obtain outside estimates as to the actual cost of repairs.

Some insurers have changed the way they charge deductibles on damages caused by hurricanes. Historically, deductibles have been based on a dollar amount. For example, if the deductible is $1,000, you will be responsible for paying the first $1,000 towards the repairs for your damaged property. However, some deductibles are percentage-based. With a 5% deductible, if the damage to your property is valued at $150,000, you would be responsible for the first $7,500 for property repairs. A percentage-based deductible does help prevent the insurance company from denying claims based on the deductible being higher than the damages caused by the hurricane.

Pre-Existing Damage

Your insurance carrier may try to deny your claim by stating that the damage caused by the hurricane was actually already there before the hurricane happened. In other words, the insurance company will claim that the damage was pre-existing. When the insurance company denies the claim, you do have the right to challenge their finding. Insurance companies sometimes use a denial as a way to delay having to pay a claim, and a Miami insurance claim lawyer can help you in these situations.

One of the best ways to prove that the damage is not pre-existing is to routinely take date-stamped photos of your property.

Failure to Mitigate Damages

The insurance company may deny your claim for damages caused by a hurricane due to your failure to mitigate the damages. Mitigating damages means taking reasonable steps to minimize the damages. For example, if there is something reasonable you can do after the hurricane passes, to prevent further damage from occurring, you should do it. Make sure you take pictures of the damage before you make the temporary repairs. Do not make any permanent repairs.

An example of mitigating damages may be when a portion of your roof is ripped off during a hurricane. After the hurricane passes through, it would not be unreasonable to place a tarp over the area where there is no roof to prevent future rain from also entering the home and destroying the property.

Flood vs. Wind

Many people are not aware that the majority of insurance policies exclude damage caused by flooding. Because of this, it is typically in the best interest of the insurance company to state that the damage caused to your property is the product of flooding rather than wind (as damage caused by high winds is covered). This excuse is used even in cases where it is clear the damage is the result of wind. For example, if hurricane-force winds blow the roof off your house, allowing water to enter the premises and destroy your belongings, your claim should not be denied, as it is clear the wind precipitated the damage.

If you are not sure whether or not your policy covers flood damage, it is a good time to check before hurricane season gets in full swing. A Miami insurance claim lawyer can also help you to interpret and understand what your policy does and does not cover.

Speak With An Experienced Miami Insurance Claim Lawyer at Ver Ploeg & Marino

If your property was damaged in a hurricane, and your claim for coverage was improperly denied by your insurance carrier, we are here to help. Contact us to schedule an appointment with a Miami insurance claim lawyer that can help you recover the compensation you are owed. We focus our practice on representing policyholders, and we understand the nuances of this area of the law.

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