When dealing with a hurricane or tropical storm, surviving the weather event is often only the beginning of the battle. The insurance company’s constant nit-picking of your claimed losses can drive you bonkers – especially while you are trying to put the rest of your life back together. Then, just when you think you may have worked out a reasonable resolution of your claim, the insurance representative says, “Oh, and by the way, we are going to apply a hurricane deductible to your loss amount.”
The Named Storm Deductible or Hurricane Deductible can take a huge bite out of your ultimate insurance claim recovery. Although some policies may vary, most homeowner insurance policies in Florida provide for a 10% deductible for hurricane or named storm claims. The real kicker though, is that this deductible is calculated as 10% of your POLICY amount, not of your claim amount. For example, let’s say you have a $500,000 policy of homeowner’s insurance, and then have the misfortune of incurring a $75,000 hurricane damage loss. After the application of the $50,000 deductible (10% of $500,000), the insurance company would only be obligated to pay you $25,000 for your loss. Good thing everybody always keeps a spare $50k around for just this type of emergency – right?
Dealing with the application of a hurricane deductible is another reason why you should never try to handle a catastrophic insurance loss without professional assistance. Whether you choose an insurance claim attorney or a public adjuster, either professional would handle the property insurance claim on a contingency fee basis and would only get paid if they bettered your recovery. Should you have any sort of questions whatsoever about either your insurance policy or the claims process, please feel free to contact our office anytime.
Even as the internet is full of Hurricane Harvey damage pictures, another storm is quickly approaching Florida from the eastern Atlantic. Tropical Storm Irma – soon to be Hurricane Irma – is projected to be a major storm and may make landfall along Florida’s coastline. The time is now to stop looking at flood pictures in Texas and realize that we could be in the same situation – or worse – if a major storm hit our shores.
Please take a moment to review my previous post on the crucial steps you need to take in order to protect your family during the storm. Also, you can click here to download a detailed Hurricane Supply Checklist. Make sure you obtain all or as many of these items as possible, because you may have to fend for yourself and your family for an extended period after the storm.
If you don’t already have adequate property insurance coverage, then it is mostly likely too late for you. Sorry, but it is not like we didn’t warn you. If you do have a solid policy of homeowners insurance, then at least you know that you will be able to seek recovery from your insurance carrier for any property loss you may incur.
If you have any questions regarding your property insurance coverage or need help with your claim, please either contact us online or call our office at (888) 898-5297.
Most people believe that when they buy homeowner’s or commercial property insurance that they will be covered for any damage that may occur to their property. Unfortunately, as many people have painfully learned during recent flooding events, the normal policy of homeowner’s property insurance does NOT provide coverage for damage caused by “rising water” or flood. This realization often comes too late for property owners and only after catastrophic damage has occurred to their property due to a flooding event.
The usual policy of homeowner’s insurance will only cover storm related water damage if it is caused by “wind blown” water, as opposed to “rising” water. A good example of “wind blown” water would be water that comes through a broken window or a roof opening caused by the storm. On the other hand, damage caused by the buildup of rain water which eventually enters the structure and causes flooding-type damage would not be covered under the standard policy of homeowner’s insurance.
As can be easily imagined, disputes often arise between property owners and their insurance companies over whether damage was caused by “rising” water as opposed to “wind blown” water. The property insurance company, obviously, would like to prove that the damage is from a flood event – and thereby not covered under its insurance policy – whereas the property owner would advocate that the damage was the result of water entering through an opening in the structure and thereby covered under the policy.
The best and safest course of action is for all property owners to obtain both property insurance and flood insurance – regardless of whether or not their structure is located in a flood zone. If you ever find yourself in a dispute with your property insurance company as to whether your damage is covered under your insurance policy, it is best to seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in property insurance claim matters.
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.
It may come as a surprise to many homeowners, but you may be able to substantially reduce your homeowner’s property insurance premiums by just looking through the provisions of your policy. Specifically, most homeowner’s insurance policies set forth numerous premium “credits” for which you can qualify based upon the age and condition of your home. These available credits are usually listed in the documents you receive along with your annual policy renewal – you know, the stuff you never read and immediately throw away.
For instance, you may be entitled to a substantial premium discount if your roof has wind mitigation straps. These straps literally “tie” your roof to your exterior walls and may help avoid the structural failure of your roof and walls during a high wind event. If your home was built after 2002 or if your roof has been recently replaced, your home most likely has these straps as the use of such was mandated after the building code was amended in 2002. You should hire a wind mitigation specialist to do an inspection and to determine whether your roof has these wind mitigation straps and whether you qualify for any other premium discounts. These inspections usually cost between $75.00 to $100.00 – a small investment considering the reduction in premiums you may be able to obtain.
As with many things, the devil is in the details, and this process will require that you take the time to read the onerous and often-times purposefully confusing provisions of your insurance policy – but you may be able to save several hundred dollars (every year!) in homeowner’s insurance premiums. Better in your pocket than in your insurance company’s wallet! As always, should you have any questions regarding your insurance policy, please feel free to give our office a call.