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How Do I Start An Insurance Claim After A Hurricane?

Hurricane Ian may wind up being one of the top five costliest storms in the U.S. and Florida’s costliest, with a best estimate of $67 billion in insured losses in Florida.  The storm devastated southwest Florida, including Naples, Fort Myers, and barrier island communities.  It also caused widespread damage throughout Florida and parts of the Carolinas.  The road to recovery will be a long one, however, filing an insurance claim after a hurricane is something that should not wait.

Begin the Process

Normally after a hurricane, homeowners have 180 days to file a claim, but your policy may vary.  It is in your best interest to file as soon as possible in order to ensure that your claim is processed correctly.  Your type of coverage and policy limits will outline many of the steps you should take to file an insurance claim.  Confirm that you have coverage against hurricanes or named storms before contacting your insurance company.

Even if you believe your damage isn’t severe, you should call your insurance company or contact them online.  Don’t assume your damage isn’t a big deal now.  Even small damage may lead to bigger problems down the line, like mold.  Failing to inform your insurance company now could lead them to deny your claim later.

Document Your Damage

It may take an adjuster a while to get to your property but while you wait you can document the damage with photos or videos for your claim.  The insurance company will most likely need this documentation before a claim can be filed.  It is also important to document your expenses and keep receipts for any preliminary costs, such as tree removal, purchases of tarps, and expenses such as food or hotel stays.

Prepare for the Insurance Adjuster

If the insurance company sends an adjuster to your property, be ready to provide them with as much information and documentation as you can about any damage.  The adjuster will provide you with a proof of loss form.  Make sure this is filled out as accurately as possible so the claim can proceed as smoothly as possible.

The Waiting Game

After a major storm like Hurricane Ian, it may take weeks or months for an insurance company to evaluate your claim because of the overwhelming number of responses.  When they do offer a settlement, it will probably be lower than you expected.  It is important to remember that you do not have to accept the settlement terms that offer.  Instead, consider hiring an attorney that will help you negotiate a fair settlement.

Flood Insurance

Florida law requires insurers to include hurricane coverage as part of their property insurance policy.  While hurricane insurance will typically cover damages caused by strong winds, it normally doesn’t cover damages caused by water coming into your home from floods.  For this type of protection, you will need a flood insurance policy.  By the insurance company’s definition, a flood is an excess of water on land that is normally dry, affecting two or more acres of land.  If you have a basement, furniture, electronics, clothing, and other personal items in a basement are not covered under a flood insurance policy.

My Neighbor’s Tree Fell on My House

Hurricane Ian toppled many trees, many on their neighbor’s property.  However, if the damage was caused by the storm, your neighbor cannot be held liable.  The only way they may be held responsible is if the tree was dead or rotting and they refused to fix the problem beforehand.  Please read Who is Responsible for Cutting Overhanging Tree Branches?

Here to Help

For many homeowners affected by Hurricane Ian, this is the start of a long and painful battle with insurance companies and adjusters.  It is unfortunate, but insurance companies can make the claims process slow and overly complex.

I’m Rob Robinson and I love living in Florida, however, hurricanes are always a threat to our way of living.  When a natural disaster like Hurricane Ian strikes, it is important for you to get the settlement you deserve in a timely fashion.  I understand the tactics of skilled insurance claim adjusters and I will work on your behalf to get you the maximum settlement possible.  As a sole practitioner, I can ensure that your insurance claim is handled with individualized care and attention.

Please contact my office as soon as possible to discuss your insurance claim from Hurricane Ian.

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