Hurricanes are an unfortunate reality in Florida, which is why coverage is included in most homeowners’ insurance policies sold here. If a hurricane damages your home, you can seek compensation by filing a claim with your insurance company. But getting the full compensation you are due is no easy task. That’s why you need a hurricane claim lawyer who can negotiate with insurance companies and pursue a fair settlement. While they handle all the tricky parts of your claim, you can focus on rebuilding your home and life.
How Common Are Hurricane Claims in Florida?
While Florida advertises itself as the Sunshine State, residents know that hurricane season is anything but sunny. The following insights offer a deeper understanding of the scope and scale of hurricane risk in Florida:
- A recent analysis revealed that Florida is the most at-risk state for hurricane impact, with projections showing it will remain the most at-risk in the coming decades.
- In terms of monetary cost, Florida currently accounts for approximately $7 out of every $10 in hurricane-related damages and will continue to do so for the projected future.
- The top 20 cities most at risk of encountering a major hurricane in the coming decades are all in Florida, indicating a widespread vulnerability across the state.
- Although certain areas of the state are more at risk than others, all parts of Florida’s coastline have experienced landfall from at least one hurricane since 1850.
- The southeast coastline of Florida is particularly susceptible to land-falling hurricanes, followed closely by the panhandle region.
- While areas around Tampa, Jacksonville, and the Big Bend are less likely to experience a direct hurricane strike, they remain vulnerable to landfall each year. All parts of Florida can feel hurricane impacts even when landfall occurs elsewhere in the state.
- In terms of overall costs from billion-dollar disasters, Florida ranks second in the U.S. since 1980, with cumulative costs nearing $370 billion, mostly from hurricanes.
Understanding Hurricane Insurance Coverage
Understanding how hurricane insurance coverage works is key to protecting your home in Florida. Here’s what you need to know:
- Standard homeowners’ insurance policies in Florida cover wind damage but not flood damage. You need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy for flood protection, usually through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
- Your policy likely has a hurricane deductible that differs from your standard deductible. Your hurricane deductible is based on a percentage of your home’s insured value. With most policies, you must pay a deductible worth 2 percent, 5 percent, or 10 percent of your home value before your coverage kicks in.
- Your hurricane deductible applies after a “trigger” occurs. In Florida, this trigger is typically when the National Weather Service declares a hurricane watch or warning. Once triggered, this higher deductible applies, not your standard deductible.
Filing a Hurricane Claim
After a hurricane, your first priority should be the health and safety of everyone in your household. Only when it’s safe to do so should you begin documenting the damage to your home and contacting your insurance company to file a claim. The insurance company will likely send an adjuster to assess the damage. Remember, the adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you. Their goal is to minimize the company’s payout.
The adjuster will inspect your property and estimate the cost of repairs. Adjusters are busy in the aftermath of a hurricane, as there are many other claimants in need of compensation. As such, they might overlook damage that should otherwise be covered by your policy. Insurance companies might also delay processing your claim or offer a settlement that’s too low. They count on the fact that many homeowners are eager to settle quickly and do not know the true values of their claims.
This is where a lawyer can make all the difference. An experienced hurricane claim lawyer understands these tactics and can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. They can properly assess the damage to your home and demand the fair settlement you deserve. A lawyer can also handle all the claim paperwork and legal details so you can focus on recovery and restoration.
If the insurance company denies your claim or offers an unfair settlement, a lawyer can challenge these decisions on your behalf. They can also initiate a lawsuit if they believe the insurer is acting in bad faith or otherwise violating the terms of the policy it issued you.
Common Challenges in Hurricane Claims
Filing a hurricane claim in Florida can be a complex and sometimes frustrating process. Homeowners often face several challenges as they seek the compensation they deserve, including:
- Complex Policy Language: Insurance policies often have complex language and conditions and can be difficult for the layperson to understand. This complexity can make it hard to know what is or isn’t covered or whether a denial is above-board or a violation of the policy.
- Undervalued Damage: Insurance adjusters might underestimate the extent or cost of the damage to your property. This can lead to offers that are too low to cover your repair costs.
- Delays: Insurance companies are often overwhelmed with claims after a hurricane, leading to delays in processing. This wait can be stressful and might prolong your repair timeline.
- Disputes Over Coverage: There might be disagreements about what your policy covers, particularly the difference between wind damage and flood damage.
- Pressure to Accept Quick Settlements: Your insurer might imply that their first offer is the only one you will get, which might be less than what you are entitled to.
- Denials: The insurance company might even deny your valid claim under some pretense, such as claiming the damage was due to a lack of maintenance rather than the hurricane. While many denials are legitimate, others are the result of bad-faith tactics on the part of insurance companies.
Don’t take on these challenges alone. Instead, hire a lawyer if your home is affected by hurricane damage in Florida. A lawyer can interpret the language of your insurance policy, argue against unfair denials, and push for a timely and fair resolution to your claim.
Contact a Hurricane Claim Attorney in Florida
Was your Florida home damaged by a hurricane? Help is just a phone call away. The hurricane claim attorneys at Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers are eager to hear your story and provide the support you need. Call us today at (813) 605-1100 to arrange your free consultation.