Over the last few days, Central Florida has been pounded by torrential rain, tornadoes and high winds. These damaging windstorms and tornados were especially violent in Manatee, Sarasota, Lee, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. These thunder storms caused flooding in Shore Acres, wind damage in Siesta Key, and claimed the lives of two people in Duette. Now that the storms have past, we are left to deal with the damage done by this weather event. Fortunately, most people have homeowners insurance to help pay for the damage to their property, but as we have often seen, going through the insurance claim process can be a world of heartache all its own.
After the storm or tornado has past and/or the flood waters have receded, you should immediately contact your insurance company and place them on notice of your claim. The sooner you start the insurance claim process, the better chance all parties have of accurately calculating your damage and the cost to repair same. You should also take whatever ever steps you can to mitigate the damage caused to your property and otherwise take action to keep additional damage from occurring. You should also, to the best of your ability, make a listing of the damaged property. Although making a listing of your damaged property can be difficult – especially when the items are missing or totally destroyed – you are the best person to know the extent of your property. If you can’t properly itemize your lost or damaged property, most likley the insurance company will not reimbuse you for same.
After a storm or other weather event, you may also have to deal with emergency restoration companies. These companies will come to your house soon after the damage occurs and will do the immediate repairs or restoration that may be necessary to protect your home from further damage. These services usually include the placement of large fans or other equipment to dry out your property, the installation of tarps over your damaged roof, or other similar activities. Although these services can often be crucial for the protection of your property, always remember that these services are very expensive and that you only have a certain amount of money under your insurance policy limits with which to repair your home. If large sums of your policy limits are spent on these initial emergency repairs, you run the risk of not having sufficient funds remaining to repair the remainder of your home. Therefore, it is always important to obtain an agreed upon written estimate of the work prior to the performance of same.
Lastly, it is important to remember the difference between flood insurance and wind insurance. Your normal policy of property insurance does not cover flood damage – meaning damage caused by “rising water”, but will only cover damage caused by water which was “blown into” your home by wind. For instance, if your property was damaged by water that had been blown in through a window or a damaged roof, your normal homeowners policy would cover it. If the damage was caused by water rising from a nearby creek, your homeowner’s policy would not cover the damage. It is crucial that you understand the coverages available to you prior to authorizing any repair work to your home. If you authorize a contractor to dry out your home after a flood and then realize that you do not have flood insurance – you will be on the hook to pay the contractor out of your own pocket!
As always, should you have any questions regarding what coverage may be available to you under your insurance policy, please feel free to contact our office and we will do our best to answer any questions you may have regarding your property damage claim.