About Jonathon Douglas

A true Florida native, Mr. Douglas graduated from Northeast High School in St. Petersburg before attending the University of Florida where he earned Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees, both with Honors. From there, Mr. Douglas attended Stetson University College of Law where he learned and practiced the art of trial advocacy. Before graduating, Jonathon clerked for the Honorable Shawn Crane and interned at the State Attorney’s Office and Public Defender’s Office. After graduation, he began his work as an Assistant Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial Circuit and then moved on to defending the rights of the accused in State and Federal Courts as an associate with the Hebert Law Group. While at the Hebert Law Group, Jonathon defended high profile and nationally televised cases.
2 08, 2022

10 Signs That Your Insurer Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim

By |2022-08-02T08:53:00-04:00August 2nd, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , |

An undervalued or underpaid property damage claim can force you to pay the remaining repair bills yourself, which could be thousands of dollars.

Insurance companies are notorious for doing everything they can to minimize their outgoing costs. Remember – they’re for-profit and care more about their finances than your stress levels or bank balance.

But that doesn’t mean you have to accept their low-ball offers. You should, as a paying customer, receive the maximum possible settlement.

Here are the top red flags that your insurer has undervalued your property damage claim:

How to Know If Your Insurer Has Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim

1. Their Estimate Seems Too Low

If you feel that the estimate is too low, trust your gut and intuition. More often than not, if you suspect it’s too low, then it probably is.

A good way to be sure is to gather as much evidence and information about the damage from day one. Gather receipts and independent quotes to repair the damage.

If the insurance company’s estimate doesn’t come close to yours, they may have been acting in bad faith or made careless errors. In which case, it’s time to act and contact a property damage attorney for swift legal support.

2. The Insurance Adjuster Rushed the Property Inspection

Soon after you open your claim, an insurance adjuster will visit the property to assess the damage and determine what needs repairing or replacing. Sometimes, these adjusters will rush their job.

Whether they’re careless or have bad faith intentions, it can leave you with a lower settlement offer than you need.

If you experience an adjuster quickly walking around the property without paying attention to the details, then alarm bells should be ringing.

3. Your Insurance Claim Is Being Processed Quicker Than Expected

While everyone wants quick service after a disaster, a big red flag is if things go unusually quickly. For example, you might be given an offer the same day you call them. This might also come in a ‘take it or leave it’ style of offer.

Your settlement should cover the true value of the property damage and nothing less.

4. Damage Was Overlooked

Review the insurance settlement document carefully to ensure all damaged elements are covered under the policy.

If damage has been overlooked in your settlement offer or communications with your insurance company, you need to act.

The insurance adjuster may have made a mistake or acted in bad faith, forcing you to pay out of pocket to repair your property.

5. Part of Your Claim Was Denied

Similarly, if any part of your claim was denied, then your property damage insurance claim may be undervalued.

Denial of claims can come in all sorts of forms (which are mentioned below) and are commonly used to save insurance companies money.

If your property damage claim has been denied or partially denied, it’s not game over. The case can be reopened. Contact a property damage attorney as soon as possible.

6. You’ve Been Offered the Actual Cash Value, Instead of Replacement Costs

Your insurance carrier may also offer to pay the actual cash value instead of the full cost required to replace or repair the property.

‘Actual cash value’ is what the property or appliance is worth today, not what it will cost to replace or repair it.

7. They Claim You Caused Damage

If your insurance carrier believes or accuses you of causing damage (or failing to mitigate damage), it’s a common sign that they’re cutting out parts of your claim. For example, they may say water damage was because you left a window open – when in reality, you didn’t.

8. Repair Quotes Are Less Than Expected

It’s advised that you receive an independent quote from a contractor for repairs, so you can ensure you’re not getting undervalued by your property damage claims insurer.

If the repair quotes are less than expected, it’s time to call an attorney to avoid covering the remaining bills.

9. You’re Told Not to Contact an Attorney

If you’re warned that you can’t contact an insurance lawyer without voiding your insurance policy, then do the exact opposite!

This threat is nonsense and hints that the insurance company wants to hide its bad-faith tactics. They may be lowering your settlement payment.

10. You’re Told About a Loophole or Lack of Coverage

Another common sign that your insurer has undervalued your property damage claim is when you’ve been told about a lack of coverage or loopholes.

While in Florida, you need to be aware of the difference between flood and water damage, you should be sensitive to any claims that you can’t get coverage for certain areas of the home.

If you do hear this, there’s a good chance you’re being tricked. Carefully review your policy documents and contact an attorney as soon as possible.

What To Do If Your Property Damage Claim Has Been Undervalued?

If your insurer has denied or undervalued your property damage claim, contact a property damage insurance lawyer immediately.

They will aggressively fight on your behalf to get the maximum possible settlement, closing down any tricks or manipulation attempted by the insurer. You deserve a fair settlement and their legal expertise will get it.

If necessary, they will be able to take legal action, but in most cases, the mere presence of a reputable lawyer is enough for the insurance company to wake up and act fairly.

Read related: The 10 Mistakes You Should Never Make When Filing Home Insurance Claims

Florida Property Damage Attorneys

Free Consultations!

If your insurance carrier has undervalued or denied your property damage claim after a disaster, then our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

26 07, 2022

Florida, the Lightning Capital of the United States

By |2022-07-26T12:24:44-04:00July 26th, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , |

As a peninsula surrounded by water, Florida sees weather disturbances every year. Florida’s heat, humidity, and winds create the perfect conditions for thunderstorms.

If you live in Florida, you’re probably well acquainted with the turbulent weather patterns. You’ve probably also witnessed a good amount of lightning. But, hopefully, you’ve never had or will need to deal with lightning damage. However, if you live in Florida, that likelihood is higher than in other states. If your home has been subjected to lightning-related damages, contact a Florida property damage attorney today who can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Florida, the Lightning Capital of the United States

Florida is no stranger to turbulent weather patterns as a state that regularly experiences hurricanes and tropical storms.

Lightning is an incredibly frightening force of nature that Florida is all too familiar with. It can cause fires and power surges, leading to extensive property damage.

Florida sees so much lightning annually that the National Weather Service has given it the distinction of “lightning capital of the US.” In the past month alone, there have been numerous lightning-produced house fires, one in Tampa and another one in Valrico, to name a few.

The area between Orlando and Tampa is a high-risk zone with the highest lightning strike rate in Central Florida. If you live in this area, you are probably familiar with regular thunderstorms throughout the year.

The high frequency of lightning in Central Florida can be attributed to its geographic location and highland climate, compared to lower temperatures on both sides of the peninsula.

As the lightning capital, Florida is the leading state for lightning-related property damage claims. While lightning damage may seem like a freak accident with a low probability, you’d be surprised how common they are in Florida. In fact, lightning strikes cause about $400 million in damage annually in the US.

Lightning Damage Statistics in Florida and the US

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), Florida is the top state in the nation for lightning insurance losses. Here are some additional statistics:

  • In 2021, there were 5,339 lightning damage claims in Florida
  • The total value of claims in 2021 amounted to $88.3 million
  • The average cost per claim in 2021 was $16,552

Some national statistics on lightning-related damage claims in the US:

  • While 2020 was the fourth consecutive year with a decrease in the number of lightning damage claims in the country, the average cost of claims more than doubled since 2017
  • Lightning-related claims dropped 6.9% from 2019 to 2020, but the value of the claims increased by 124.6% ($920.1 million in 2019 to $2.1 billion in 2020)
  • While Florida takes the lead with the highest count of annual claims, California usually has the highest average cost per claim due to the severity of destruction from lightning-produced fires.
  • The average cost per claim in 2021 for California was about $154,574.

What Types of Damage Can Lightning Cause?

There is an average of $451 million in direct property damage caused yearly by lightning. The damage that results from lightning can be much more damaging than homeowners realize.

When lightning strikes, it can cause electrical surges that result in deadly fires and severe damage. It can damage appliances, electronics, computers, phone systems, electrical fixtures, air conditioning systems, and the entire electrical foundation of a home.

If lighting hits the inner parts of the walls in a house, it can cause a surge in the electrical circuits, which would cause a house fire. In addition, lightning can potentially ruin your home’s plumbing system. If lightning hits any of your plumbing, it can cause leaks and water damage.

Even lightning that does not directly strike your home but hits the ground can cause issues for your home. The shock waves created by lightning can ruin the foundation of your house.

Steps To Take After Your House Gets Damaged By Lightning

If you want to file a property insurance claim after your house gets struck by lightning, you’ll need to follow a few crucial steps.

First, take pictures and note all damages to your property. Next, contact your insurance company and make a claim. Create a thorough list of all damaged items and property. Then, call your local fire department as soon as possible, and note the date and time you called them. The next step is to contact a professional electrician or plumber to inspect your house and document the damage caused by lightning.

Sometimes insurance companies deny claims because homeowners do not provide sufficient evidence to prove that lightning caused the damage. That’s why it’s vital to take pictures of all damage from lightning, like holes or asphalt.

Lastly, the most critical step will be to get a Florida property damage attorney who can guide you through the claims process and help protect your legal rights as a homeowner.

How Long Do I Have To Make a Lightning Damage Claim?

Florida’s statutes allow homeowners to file a damage lawsuit five years after the lightning strikes. However, bear in mind that insurance companies require policyholders to file a claim much sooner, usually within 60 days of the incident.

Once you submit an insurance claim, the insurance company will investigate your claim and respond. In addition, they will probably offer you a settlement to compensate you for repairs and other damages you may have incurred.

Florida Property Damage Claim Attorneys

Sadly, Florida homes suffer the consequences of natural disasters like hurricanes and lightning every year. When that happens, you need an experienced property damage attorney who will fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve. Furthermore, having strong litigators who can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf means you can focus on repairing your home.

Contact an experienced Florida property damage attorney today for a free consultation, or call (727) 381-2300.

12 07, 2022

The 10 Mistakes You Should Never Make When Filing Home Insurance Claims

By |2022-07-12T11:07:32-04:00July 12th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: |

Are you about to file a property damage insurance claim? Stop! Don’t begin until you’ve educated yourself on these top 10 home insurance claim mistakes!

First up, you must know the truth about insurance companies – they’re for-profit and care far more about their profit margins than you! They’ll do anything in their power (and more) to undervalue your claim or outright reject it, leaving you to pay tens of thousands of dollars for property repairs.

Here’s what you shouldn’t ever do when filing an insurance claim:

1. Forgetting to Read Your Policy

Your insurance carrier will try to take advantage of you if you aren’t aware of your home insurance policy. As you won’t know what is covered, there’s a good chance they’ll say what happened isn’t part of their coverage or that your home falls into a loophole.

So make sure you read the entire homeowner’s policy contract, including endorsements. If you still find that the insurance carrier makes false claims, or tries to confuse you, then call a property damage lawyer for professional assistance.

2. Waiting Too Long to Inform Your Insurer

If your property has suffered damage, contact your insurer immediately.

A delayed report can give your insurer time to make false claims such as “you failed to timely report your claim” or “you failed to mitigate the damage”.

Plus, most homeowner insurance policies have conditions that require timely notice of damage. Finally, the sooner you inform your insurer, the quicker those repairs and payments can happen.

3. Failure to Document Enough Evidence

Evidence is essential in any insurance claim. But the common home insurance claim mistake is not gathering enough evidence!

You must take photos of everything, from the glaringly obvious to slightly damaged appliances or your damaged doors and windows. Then when you’ve taken them all, take some more! Take a video and record what happened on the day of the incident.

You should also inventory all the damaged and undamaged property, including repair costs and purchase price. If you can enter your home safely, gather any receipts too.

Finally, document every communication you have with insurance adjusters and representatives. Keep a list of their names, contact information and the time and date of each call. Safely store all paper documents.

4. Discarding or Cleaning Property Damage Too Soon

Don’t discard damaged appliances or property unless instructed by authorities or your insurance company. Even if the property is burnt or flooded, ensure it stays at the location until an adjuster has inspected it!

If you don’t do this, your homeowner’s insurance adjuster may claim there’s no proof of the damage so they can’t include it in your settlement. To help the process, make an inventory list of all damaged property and costs.

5. Failing to Mitigate the Damage

Another disastrous home insurance claim mistake is not taking steps to prevent the property from suffering further damage. Your insurance company may reject or reduce your settlement if they find this was the case.

For example, if a storm has broken doors or windows, then you should make temporary repairs. Or, if there is a damaged water pipe on the property, you should turn off the water supply.

6. Admitting You Were to Blame

Imagine you thought you may have made a mistake such as leaving a window unlocked during a storm that caused water damage. Don’t admit it! This may see your claim reduced or rejected.

Alternatively, you may have made no mistakes at all but the insurance adjuster may ask questions that trick you into admitting fault. Stay alert and never take the blame!

Read Related: What’s the difference between water and flood insurance?

7. Assuming Your Insurer’s Calculations Are Correct

So the insurance adjuster has visited your property, assessed the damage and calculated the total repair costs and replacement costs. How do you know that figure is correct?

Many people assume it is and then a few months later are forced to pay for repairs out of their own pocket. Construction costs are especially prone to wide variations between insurer quotes and reality.

In reality, you can always question the calculations. You can receive your own repair quotes and you can question it all. You have the right to do so.

If you disagree, let the insurer know – provide your own estimates for the repairs. With rising construction costs, supply chain disruptions and inflation, there is a good chance the cost the insurance company believes will make you whole, will not. Once you get your own estimates, submit them to the insurance carrier and demand that they pay the estimates you provided.

8. Assuming the Insurer’s Offer is Final

If you’re unhappy with the insurer’s offer, you can negotiate. If they reject your claim, you can appeal. They cannot close your case to silence you.

If you’ve been unfairly denied or underpaid in a property damage claim, then contact a property damage attorney as soon as possible.

9. Thinking You Can’t Reopen a Home Insurance Claim

Most homeowners insurance companies will inform you that the case is closed once they’ve paid you. But that’s just their way of saying they’re not dealing with it anymore.

Actually, you can reopen a claim so long as you did not sign a full and final settlement release. You may need to reopen a claim if you find the settlement offer wasn’t enough to cover the extensive damage, or that repair work was more extensive than predicted.

These situations are far from easy though as insurance adjusters will try to manipulate you or shut you out. Therefore you should hire a property damage attorney for aggressive professional representation.

10. Trying to Tackle a Complex Home Insurance Claim Alone

Whether your case is complex because of its size or because your insurer is playing games, a common home insurance claim mistake is handling it without a lawyer’s assistance.

While trying to handle the emotions of a damaged home, you’ll also need to deal with manipulative insurance adjusters and a lot of paperwork!

Property damage lawyers work on your behalf to deal with insurance companies. Their presence alone can often end the insurer’s tricks and bring a far higher offer.

In most cases, the offer you’ll receive with a lawyer’s assistance (including the lawyer’s fee) is larger than without.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered damage and you’ve been undervalued, denied or unfairly treated in your claim, then our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

7 06, 2022

10 Must-Know Home Insurance Claim Adjuster Secret Tactics

By |2022-06-07T13:52:43-04:00June 7th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , |

Every homeowner must know the common home insurance claim adjuster’s secret tactics. Insurance companies are for-profit and care far more about saving money than helping their customers out.

These tactics are completely unfair but go unnoticed due to desperate home insurance claimants. Sadly, studies show these tactics help boost insurance companies’ profits every year.

By becoming aware of these common home insurance claim adjuster secret tactics, you can avoid manipulation and gain the maximum possible settlement for your home insurance claim.

Common Home Insurance Claim Adjuster Secret Tactics

Secret Tactic 1: Tricking You to Admit Fault

Throughout the industry, insurance companies try to trick claimants into admitting fault. But by admitting fault, or partial fault, your claim can be worth significantly less.

In property damage claims, the common secret tactic is to claim you either:

For example, they might say that you didn’t lock your windows, which caused flooding during a storm, or that your appliances were damaged long before a fire.

If you’re unaware of these tactics, it’s easy to get tricked into admitting fault. It can happen so easily, from a question such as “Were your windows locked?”

In some cases, you might even experience ‘gaslighting’. Which is where they’ll trick you into thinking you were the cause.

We know it’s difficult if you’re in a vulnerable position. Insurance claims adjusters use tricky questions to shift the blame. Don’t give in easily. They’re not your friends.

Secret Tactic 2: Delaying

Your insurance claims adjuster is likely to try delaying tactics. They’ll know from experience that most people get tired of delays when they’re desperate for money and repairs.

From not calling you back or answering emails, they’ll do whatever they can to push you into accepting a low-ball offer.

Don’t give in. If you experience delaying tactics, then you’re a victim of bad faith and can call a property damage attorney.

Secret Tactic 3: False Deadlines

In their goal to get you to accept a low-ball settlement offer, insurance agents will tell you that you have until a specified date to accept the offer or leave empty-handed.

The truth is, this is a scare tactic. It’s a made-up deadline that you do not have to accept. In reality, you always have a chance to negotiate a better settlement offer and are not obliged to accept their low-ball offer before a deadline.

If this does happen to you and you’re afraid, you can contact a property damage attorney who will quickly call the insurance company and set things straight.

Secret Tactic 4: Policy Loopholes

Insurance policy documents are usually long and complicated. That’s intentional.

Many of our clients say that their insurers state the property damage isn’t covered in the insurance coverage. The reason given is usually some technical loophole.

More often than not, this is a lie. You’re their customer and you paid for this policy.

Secret Tactic 5: Requesting Unnecessary Documentation

Insurance adjusters require various documents, such as receipts, photo evidence, bills and reports. But a common insurance adjuster tactic is to ask for documents that aren’t needed because they know you don’t have them.

For example, you might get asked to provide a repair or construction bill from ten years before the property damage event. This is just another trick to wear you down to accept a low settlement offer.

Secret Tactic 6: Undervaluing Your Claim

When you get a low-ball offer, it’s probably not because you over-estimated damages. It’s more likely because insurance adjusters don’t want to pay you more and they want to wear you out.

The most common way this occurs is by claiming repairs can be completed for far less than the real price.

Do not give in. If you’re unhappy with the settlement offer, you can receive an independent inspection of the property and get contractor quotes. These can be used to prove that the claim has been underpaid or undervalued.

Property damage attorneys are of great use in these situations. They have the resources to prove the real costs of the damage so you don’t end up out of pocket later down the line.

Secret Tactic 7: Advising You Not to Use an Attorney

Insurance companies are scared of attorneys because they know that they’ll reveal their tactics as bad faith behavior.

Your insurance agent may try to tell you that hiring an attorney is either unnecessary, a contract violation or a waste of money. None of this is true.

Using an attorney almost always produces a higher settlement, even after deducting attorney fees.

They can fight aggressively on your behalf through the claims process to avoid attorneys’ manipulation tactics and bring you the maximum possible settlement.

Secret Tactic 8: Acting Like They Care

Be warned of any overly friendly insurance adjuster. They’re not your friend; they work for an insurance company.

While it’s always appreciated that you’re treated with respect and sympathy, the red flags come when they try to ‘befriend’ you. They use this approach to get your guard down, so they can use information against you.

It’s not uncommon for adjusters to be paid bonuses for low settlements, and you’re just another opportunity.

Secret Tactic 9: False Promises Made by Insurance Companies

A home insurance claims adjuster might make promises for your benefit that, in reality, are a conflict of interest. Their priority is always the insurance company, not you!

They might, for example, say they’ll pay for a particular type of repair work and then later tell you that it was ‘excessive’ so it won’t be covered.

Secret Tactic 10: Painful Compensation Negotiations

Never forget that you can negotiate with an insurance company for a property damage settlement offer. But be warned, they will make it as difficult as possible.

They won’t just give you the figure you want at the first request, or the second. This is going to take some work, patience and nerve.

It is highly advised that you hire a property damage attorney, as they will negotiate on your behalf. The mere presence of a reputable attorney can be enough to make an insurance company’s negotiations go far, far quicker and result in a fair settlement.

Contact a Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim Attorney Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make a property damage claim, negotiate or tackle an unfair insurance claim adjuster, our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate insurance disputes.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

17 05, 2022

How Do I Get the Most Out of My Homeowner’s Insurance Claim?

By |2022-05-17T12:46:48-04:00May 17th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Did you know that insurance companies will do everything in their power to minimize your homeowner’s insurance claim? Undervalued claims will leave you out of pocket if you need to make further repairs. As their customer, you deserve to receive the maximum possible payment.

Whether your home has been damaged by a hurricane, a flood, fire or any other disaster, you must act appropriately. Sadly, you can’t just leave it to your insurer. They’ll take advantage of your backseat approach and undervalue your claim.

As property damage attorneys, we’ve seen it all. Here are our top tips for optimizing your homeowner’s insurance claim:

Tips for Optimizing Your Homeowner’s Insurance Claim

Contact a Property Damage Attorney

All of the steps below are advised, but you can make your homeowner’s claim process much easier and stronger by working with a property damage attorney.

A property damage attorney tackles insurance companies and their tricks every day. They don’t fall for manipulation and know how to negotiate the best settlement offer.

They’ll also remove the stress you’re likely facing by handling all communications, from paperwork to phone calls.

If you run into any disputes with your insurer, they’ll also take the appropriate action. Some common disputes homeowners face with their own insurance companies are:

  • Undervalued Claims
  • Denied Claims
  • Delaying tactics
  • Manipulation or bullying tactics
  • Incorrect policy coverage
  • No or slow responses
  • You’re blamed for the damage
  • They claim the damage already existed.

Retain Evidence

In every homeowners insurance claim, evidence is key. Take pictures. When you’re done, take more.

Take all these photos before you clean the property or make temporary repairs.

There’s no such thing as too much detail here. From cracks in the floor to bowing ceilings and smoke stains, don’t leave anything undocumented.

You should also record detailed notes about everything you remember happening – such as when the disaster started, how long it lasted and what you heard or saw.

If possible, take notes from neighbors, witnesses and fire teams.

Finally, keep all receipts. If it’s safe to do so, that includes the receipts for your appliances. But it also includes repair bills and temporary accommodation expenses.

Remember, that before you make repairs related to mitigation or tear out, many homeowners policies require that they conduct an inspection. If you begin tear out or mitigation work and do not allow the insurance company to inspect before the work begins or tear out of the damaged items occurs, you may be subject to reduced coverage limits. One more reason to consult with a homeowners insurance attorney for your property damage claim.

Identify your Damages

You should first list everything that the incident has damaged and that needs replacing or repairing (such as appliances, furniture and electronics). As it relates to personal property, or “contents”, your list should note the date you purchased the item and the purchase price. Try to note model numbers.

Most homeowners insurance claims however fall under Coverage A, or damage to the actual home or commercial property. Be sure to document damages to your home or commercial property. For example, buckling floors after a water leak, or damaged drywall from water instruction after a windstorm. Being able to accurately show the damage will be critical in building a strong homeowners insurance claim.

Properly File Your Claim

Once you’ve completed the steps above, it’s time to file. Don’t delay. You should file your claim immediately to avoid the insurance company claiming that the delay somehow prevents coverage.

Before making a claim, read your policy to understand your coverage in detail.

Insurance adjusters regularly take advantage of homeowners who don’t know what they’re entitled to. But if you know what the policy covers, you reduce that risk.

It’s also essential that you know all the deadlines and contractual obligations. If you don’t, you could risk causing a delay in the process.

During the call, never accept a low-ball offer. This is not the time to accept an offer, as you haven’t even had the property professional assessed. It’s ok to negotiate a settlement later.

Make Temporary Repairs

Some damage shouldn’t be ignored. For example, a hole in the roof needs immediate work to avoid the rest of the house being damaged by rain and wind.

If you don’t take these immediate steps to make temporary repairs, the insurer may claim you failed to mitigate the damage – which could see your coverage reduced or denied entirely.

For example, if a broken window isn’t boarded up, you may lose your burglary coverage.

Keep all the receipts of professional repairs or materials you purchased to fix the damage. You will be able to include this in your homeowner’s insurance claim later.

Document All Communications

Ask for the insurance agent’s name and title.

If there are any problems or disputes later in the homeowner’s claim process, then this information could be very helpful. You’ll be able to refer back to the agent who previously spoke to you.

You should keep every email, letter or document you are sent. You should also take notes during your phone calls.

Get Independent Estimates

In some cases, it can feel like the insurance company has given an incorrect estimate. They use their own adjusters, so it’s sadly not rare to hear these stories.

In these cases, it can be wise to get an independent evaluation of your property. If you’re working with a homeowner’s insurance claim attorney, they will likely have the resources to help you gain an independent estimate.

You can then use quotes and estimates to negotiate with your insurance company, arguing that their settlement offer is insufficient for the required repairs.

Review Your Policy Again

Adjusters make mistakes. Sometimes these are intentional; sometimes they’re just errors.

If a claim is rejected because the insurer says you don’t have coverage, then dig out your homeowner’s insurance policy and read the fine print.

If you believe the decision doesn’t fit the policy, don’t give up. It’s time to contact a property damage attorney and solve this mess.

Contact a Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim Attorney Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make a property damage claim or have been unfairly denied, undervalued or tricked by your insurance carrier, then contact us today.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate insurance disputes.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

19 04, 2022

The Hidden Damages of a Fire Loss

By |2022-04-19T13:19:27-04:00April 19th, 2022|Categories: Fire Damage Law|Tags: , , |

Every fire loss is devastating, but there are often significant hidden damages that insurance companies overlook. While hidden damages of fire loss can be hard to detect with a quick survey, they should never be ignored. First, you’ll need to claim it in your property damage claim. And second, if ignored, they can lead to expensive structural issues or health concerns.

In this guide, our property damage attorneys will explain what to look for, how to deal with it and why. Let’s get started:

Common Types of Hidden Damage in Home Fires

Smoke and Soot Damage

Smoke from a fire is black because it contains particles of what’s been burned. This leaves soot throughout the property. Smoke and soot damage should not be left for long as it can cause respiratory issues, skin damage, eye damage, heart attacks and cancer. It can also have lifelong health consequences for young children.

While soot can easily be cleaned from floors, walls and appliances, it should not be a DIY job if there are large quantities. Your home insurance policy should cover the costs of hiring a professional smoke and soot removal team.

Airborne soot is invisible, so you likely won’t know if you’re breathing it in. Plus, the longer it remains, the more damage it can cause to appliances and electronics. The longer it stays, the harder it becomes to remove.

Be sure to photograph all evidence of soot after the fire to include it in your property damage claim.

Signs of smoke and soot damage include:

  • Black stains
  • Smoke smells
  • Stained fabric
  • Paint discoloration
  • Signs of corrosion and rust to metal objects such as jewelry and appliances
  • Floor damage

Water Damage

After fire damage, the next most common property damage is water damage.

The large amounts of water sprayed by the firefighters can cause havoc throughout your property. From structural concerns to electronic damage, there will be lots to repair. Plus, you’ll likely have lost electronic devices, furniture and important documents to the water damage.

You must address these concerns quickly. If left unresolved, the water can seep into the property’s walls and foundations and continue to damage your home. And then comes the mold.

Mold

Mold is a nightmare at the best of times, but after a fire, it can grow rapidly and spread throughout the home.

Black mold is linked to severe respiratory problems, particularly in people, children and the elderly. Even your pets can suffer.

While you can clean up small amounts of mold yourself, you should call a repair team if the mold is substantial. In some cases, walls, joints and trusses might need to be replaced entirely. Large quantities of mold is also dangerous to remove as a DIY job, because you’ll be at risk of breathing in the spores.

Note: Most people cannot make claims for mold alone. But if there is a bigger problem causing the mold, then you can claim on water damage. Read our guide on whether your mold damage may be the signs of a bigger water damage problem here.

Sewage and Water Pipes

Pipes are not all made of heavy-duty metal; many are made of PVC that quickly melts during fires. Pipes can also leak toxic gasses and carbon monoxide, a lethal risk.

Insurance adjusters might overlook damaged water pipes, leaving you with a hefty repair bill in the future. Ensure that you include any evidence of damaged pipes or faulty plumbing in your fire damage property claim.

Important tip: If you believe your plumbing has been damaged from a fire, turn off your water at the main valve. Avoid using the water outlets until the damage has been assessed.

Gas Leaks

Firefighters will aggressively fight through floors, windows and walls if they need to rescue someone or put out the fire. This can result in accidental gas line damage which can cause dangerous gas leaks.

If you smell a gas leak, evacuate your home to a safe distance and call 911 immediately.

Gas leaks can result in large, lethal explosions.

You can read the Red Cross guide to dealing with dangerous homes and gas leaks after fires here.

Electrical Damage

Electrical damage is another common hidden damage in a fire loss. As the fire spreads through the home, it can destroy junction boxes, leave live hanging wires and melt components. After a fire, you should immediately have the electricity shut off by contacting your power provider.

You may not be able to see the damage unless you know what you’re looking for, but the risks of leaving electrical damage unresolved can be catastrophic. Sparks from damaged wires can trigger another fire.

Electrical repairs should be covered in your home insurance policy. An experienced inspector should check all the wiring in the home to ensure safety. Risks are not worth taking. Live wires can be fatal.

Appliance Damage

Appliances and electronic devices can overheat or melt internally, causing them to become unusable or dangerous. These defects are not often noticeable at first. Ensure you take photos of any potentially damaged appliances after the fire.

Damaged HVAC systems are also a common hidden damage in a fire loss. Ventilation and heating systems can get covered in smoke and soot, which if not cleaned or replaced will result in your entire property being fed toxic gasses, particles and residues.

You might not notice this until months later when the appropriate season arrives to turn the HVAC on. So making an inspection in advance for damage is highly advised.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Fire Damage Claim?

Insurance companies love undervaluing their customers’ claims. They’ll use every possible trick and excuse to make their outgoing costs as low as possible.

As you can see, fire loss can result in various hidden damages. If these are shown to the insurance company, they’ll likely completely ignore that you need financial help to clean up your property.

By working with a property damage attorney, you can ensure you get the insurance payment you deserve.

An attorney will not get manipulated or bullied by the insurance company and, if needed, will hire an independent property inspector and other specialists to reveal the true cost of your fire loss.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Fire Damage Claims

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered hidden damages from fire loss, then contact our Florida property damage attorney today.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

15 03, 2022

What Your Home Insurance Company Doesn’t Want You to Know About

By |2022-03-15T11:15:52-04:00March 15th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: |

Did you know that home insurance companies are raising their property insurance rates for property owners in Florida?

Despite what many assume, Florida property insurance rates are not rising due to property value increase (20% within the last year). There’s another reason— the climate crisis.

Climate Change Causing Higher Property Insurance Premiums

What insurance companies aren’t revealing to their customers, is that they’re scared of the increasing frequency of natural disasters. As the climate crisis brings an increase in destruction, insurers are reevaluating their risk. The result? Higher premiums.

High-risk areas are even at the risk of more expensive loans or rejected loan applications, as the weather informs lending decisions.

It’s hard to predict just how high Florida property insurance rates could go, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new flood insurance rate structure suggests it certainly won’t be going back down again.

Why Are Insurers Raising Premiums?

Insurance companies have always been at risk of making massive losses due to natural disasters. Within recent years, their losses have been high enough to make them panic.

During 2021’s first nine months, the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) recorded 18 major storms – resulting in over $1 billion in losses.

As of December 1 2021, the NCEI also reported that nearly half the U.S. is under ‘moderate to exceptional drought conditions, which is a clear sign that other types of disasters are on the way.

How Are Florida Property Insurance Rates Set to Increase?

FEMA, which manages the flood insurance program, has taken action to improve its balance sheet. The method of rating risk based on whether a house is in a flood zone has been replaced by a new formula which covers:

  • The distance from the property to a flood source
  • The frequency and severity of flooding
  • Property characteristics, including potential flood rebuild costs

Those changes will force 3.3 million homeowners into paying more for their existing coverage.

Insurance Companies Are Desperate

When devastating years occur, insurance industry changes tend to occur.

In 1968, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created to protect property owners from flood damage losses. The NFIP also protects taxpayers who fund the program by reducing Federal exposure.

However, the NFIP requires extra funding from Congress from time to time and after years of inaction, has yet to be reconstituted and remains unable to pay its debts.

How Much Will Property Florida Insurance Rates Increase?

The average NFIP premium is currently priced at $734 per year. FEMA has stated it predicts 77% of flood insurance owners will experience a price rise.

How much? Between $88 to $240 per year! A lucky group will enjoy a lower premium, but the hardest hit will experience an increase spread over a few years.

Will I Be Affected?

So should you be worried? If you own property inside a specified flood zone, you are likely set to experience Florida property insurance rate increases.

However, it’s advised that anyone, especially Florida residents, obtain coverage. Floods can happen at any time and anywhere.

This is especially true for flood coverage. Floods are not covered by homeowners insurance and require a separate policy purchase. Read our guide on the difference between water damage and flood damage insurance here.

“The Insurance Business Is Reeling”

Jennifer Rasumussen, the author of a white paper detailing the future for policyholders, has said,

“The growing number of climate events has left the insurance business reeling. As the intensity and scope of future catastrophes grow, insurance rates for property owners will likely rise significantly.”

  • 39% of all home insurance claims in 2020 were caused by ‘catastrophic weather’
  • The rise in severe hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and other weather events linked to climate change has caused ‘significant risk’ for insurers.

You might assume that it’s just the coastal areas that are affected. But even inland areas are at risk of huge property losses for insurers. For example, in the first half of 2021, winter storms in Texas accounted for 40% of all U.S. total property losses. In fact, Texas has the highest threat level for wildfires – affecting 72% of the state’s population.

What Could the Climate Crisis Trigger?

The climate crisis is also putting a projected 1.2 million extra homes at risk of flooding over the next 30 years.

The mortgage business is extremely nervous about what should be insured and at what cost. The Mortgage Bankers Association is quoted as saying, “lenders will not be spared” by the knock-on consequences of climate change. Physical destruction will affect lenders, investors and loan programs.

Natural disasters could also trigger mortgage defaults and further stress on the housing system.

The Mortgage Bankers Association has said there have been important conversations regarding whether climate-related risks should be incorporated into underwriting decisions.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has informed various entities that they should have climate change as a priority concern when making purchasing decisions.

This could trigger lenders into demanding higher rates for loans on the high-risk property. How? With larger down payments or larger insurance policy costs. Maybe even a disaster policy? Or, at worst, a rejected loan.

Florida Climate Change Predictions:

  • More than 1,000 miles of Florida coastline are at risk from rising sea levels.
  • Increased Florida property insurance rates.
  • Record-breaking hurricanes.
  • Increase in flooding and harmful algals.
  • Tourism, agriculture and real estate development are threatened.
  • Sea level rises to lead to greater storm surges.
  • Billions of dollars of climate-proofing infrastructure will be required.
  • $26 billion worth of real estate is at risk of chronic flooding by 2045.
  • A ‘fully clean, carbon-free energy powered future’ is needed to save Florida’s economy, environment and people.

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2019 Report

Florida Property Damage Attorneys

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered damage and you’ve been undervalued, denied or unfairly treated in your claim, then our Florida property damage attorneys can help.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

15 02, 2022

Should Your Mold Insurance Claim Actually Be a Water Damage Claim?

By |2022-02-15T12:37:43-05:00February 15th, 2022|Categories: Water Damage Law|Tags: , |

If you’re looking to make a mold insurance claim, it’s advised to consider making a water damage claim instead as well.

Many people notice mold growth in their homes and quickly jump to file mold insurance claims. The problem you should be worried about may actually be a water issue, which is causing mold growth.

A mold insurance claim alone may be subject to limited coverages and may not ultimately uncover the real source of the problem. This is why filing both a mold and water damage claim may be required.

Mold Insurance Claims vs. Water Damage Claims

What Is Mold Damage?

Mold damage is the presence of mold in a building that causes damage to property, furniture and personal belongings. If left unaddressed for a long time, mold can weaken the structural integrity of the building as it damages walls, floors, roof and wood.

Mold can also be a health concern for inhabitants, as the spores can cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems, respiratory infections or asthma.

What Is a Mold Insurance Claim?

A mold insurance claim is a type of property damage claim that seeks compensation for cleaning and repairs of the mold damage.

However, mold growth claims are usually subject to lower insurance coverage limits. There usually must be a reason for the mold growth, such as a sudden, unforeseen disaster.

Insurance companies will almost certainly not cover a mold insurance claim caused by a preventable issue such as poor maintenance, appliance usage or poor ventilation.

What Is a Water Damage Claim?

Water damage claims seek compensation to cover the costs of repairs for damage caused by water.

Water damage is caused by internal issues such as a plumbing disaster. For example, if a pipe suddenly bursts, then it would cause water damage.

We regularly get calls about minor mold damage, which is actually caused by a far bigger water problem.

Determine the Cause of Mold

In the cases of mold, you may or may not be aware of a water damage-related issue causing mold growth. For example, you may have a damaged pipe inside a wall.

In these scenarios, you should make a water damage claim.

Determining the cause of the mold is the best way to know whether you should make a water damage claim. You may require an inspection of your property.

Possible Causes of Water Damage:

Mold may be caused by water damage problems such as:

  • Ruptured pipes
  • Ruptured water heater
  • Appliance malfunction and leaks
  • Other unforeseeable plumbing issues
  • HVAC systems failing to drain
  • Automatic fire systems

What if Mold Was Caused By a Natural Disaster?

If you have mold following a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, flood or rainstorm, then coverage will come under a ‘flood insurance claim’.

While water damage claims cover accidents caused in the building, flood damage claims cover external events that are unpreventable.

However, coverage will not be applied if you don’t take the necessary steps to minimize the damage by shutting windows.

Read our guide on Water Damage vs. Flood Damage

Possible Causes of Flood Damage:

  • Hurricanes and storms
  • Rainstorms
  • Rivers overflowing
  • Lakes overflowing
  • Flooding from the ocean

How Do I Make a Water Damage Claim in Florida?

After you have determined that you have sustained water damage to your home, you should file a water damage claim:

Document the Damage

Document the damage immediately. Take photos of the damaged areas and evidence of the source of water – such as a damaged pipe, roof damage or water stain on a wall. If you have old photos of the home before the damage, get them ready to send to your insurer as they can show a before and after comparison.

Turn off water pipes and open windows to prevent further humidity issues but don’t clean or attempt to repair anything until an adjuster has reviewed the property – unless it is an immediate emergency (such as severe leaks).

Contact Your Insurance Company

Immediately notify your insurance company about the mold and water damage as soon as possible. A representative will ask you many questions about your claim to determine whether you have coverage under your homeowner’s policy.

It’s important to state you have photos of the damage and that it is caused by water or flooding – to avoid paying two deductibles. If it has been caused by flooding, you may need a flooding policy add-on.

Do I Need an Attorney for My Mold Damage?

Property damage claims can be quite stressful and tiresome. When it comes to mold damage, things can get even more complicated than usual.

Your insurer may try to blame you for the mold damage by saying things like, “The mold wasn’t caused by the water issue”, “You should have fixed it earlier” or “the mold is caused by poor ventilation”.

They may undervalue your claim or even outright deny it. Insurance companies are for-profit and will do everything they can to prevent paying you the money you need. That’s not right.

When you bought the policy, you expected to be protected in scenarios such as these.

As Florida property damage claim attorneys, we know their tricks. Having worked in the insurance industry ourselves, we don’t get bullied or manipulated by insurers. It’s very easy to get pressured into a low-ball offer, but we will communicate on your behalf to ensure you get coverage for the true value of your damage.

How to Prevent Mold Damage:

The best way to prevent mold damage is to prevent its growth. Florida is particularly mold-prone so it’s not unusual to have mold grow without big water or flood problems. You should:

  • Turn off your building’s water immediately if you suspect or see leaking or burst pipes.
  • Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to reduce humidity to 30-60%.
  • Ensure your home is properly insulated.
  • Install extraction fans in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Regularly clean out gutters.
  • Ensure your home has adequate ventilation – by installing ventilation holes if needed and allowing for fresh air.
  • Check crawl spaces, laundry rooms and beneath sinks for mold growth.
  • Replace hoses to appliances every five years to prevent leaks.
  • Remove any standing water immediately after photographing the damage.
  • Dry out any rugs or affected furniture.

How to Spot Mold:

If you’ve recently had water damage or flood damage incident, you may soon start to see mold growth in your home. Dealing with it fast can reduce the damage to your home and health. Here’s how you can spot it:

Smell

Mold has a very distinct smell. It can be compared to rotting leaves or may bring out the smell of paint on your walls.

The smell will be strong in the room where it is growing. If you smell it when you turn on your AC it is likely in that system. If you smell mold but can’t find it, it may be under an appliance, carpet or behind a wall.

Sight

Mold is often obvious and can be seen on walls, ceilings and wood. It will likely start as small black or gray spots or furry textures before growing into large merged stains.

However, sometimes it may be hard to find and be hidden behind furniture, sinks, appliances or in crawl spaces.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Water Damage Claims

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered water damage or flood damage in Florida, then contact us today for a free consultation.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

18 01, 2022

What Is an Insurance Dispute Lawyer?

By |2022-01-18T13:02:56-05:00January 18th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: |

Insurance dispute lawyers provide legal assistance when insurance companies fail to uphold their end of the insurance policy deal.

When homeowners purchase a homeowners insurance policy, they expect to be financially supported by the insurer when disaster strikes. Sadly, this doesn’t always happen. In fact, it’s rare that a check with the appropriate figure is simply handed over.

Instead, policyholders’ damages are undervalued, dismissed or manipulated into a lower amount causing the policyholder to miss out on the money they deserve.

An insurance disputes lawyer’s job is to hold insurers accountable and fight for what policyholders are entitled to.

In this blog, we’re going to run through an example of an insurance dispute case, with quotes from our lead Property Damage Claims Attorney, Jonathon W. Douglas.

‘I’m Helping Homeowners Recover What They’re Entitled To’

“When people ask me what a property claim is, it’s better described as an insurance dispute. I’m helping that homeowner recover, from their own insurance company, the benefits and policy proceeds that they’re entitled to.” – Property Damage Claims Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas

Example Scenario:

Imagine, for example, your home is severely damaged in a storm. The roof has been partially torn apart, which has caused interior water damage and physical damage to the exterior of the home. Appliances are destroyed, windows smashed and the home is now uninhabitable.

Disaster. But thankfully, you bought homeowners insurance which covered storms. You’d expect your insurer to step up and cover the repairs and other expenses, right?

So you make a claim, but the figure you’re offered is pathetic. It will only partially cover repairs and leave you significantly out of pocket.

At this point, it is clear that there is an insurance dispute. Your next question might be, “So why do I need an Insurance Dispute Lawyer?”

‘Insurance Carriers in Florida Are Unruly”

“These homeowners insurance carriers in the State of Florida are unruly.

Most of these insurance companies, in my opinion, simply have their own bottom line at stake. They’re not trying to pay what these claims are worth and they’re hoping that their own clients just go away.” – Property Damage Claims Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas.

Example Scenario:

After your claim has been undervalued, you confront the insurance company, claiming their offer is unfair and too small. Sadly, now their games begin. They will try a variety of tricks.

First, they might ignore you, letting weeks or even months go by before you get a reply. The reply is a refusal to re-evaluate your claim. So you ask again, challenging them. They come back claiming the extra coverage you’re asking for is either unnecessary, exaggerated or not covered in your policy.

At this point, many people give up. They are unsure of how to tackle the daunting insurers and may even see deadlines for their claim pass due to delaying tactics from the insurer.

At this point, or ideally far earlier, a professional legal expert can step in.

‘I Know How to Prepare My Clients for Those Tactics’

“My strategy for these clients is like it is for all of my clients – prepare the case for trial from day one and that will achieve an outcome for my client that will not only help them put their house back together but hopefully put their life back together financially.”

“I know the tactics that these insurance companies are using against their own insurers and I know how to prepare my clients for those tactics to set their cases up for success.” – Property Damage Claims Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas.

Example Scenario:

With the help of an experienced insurance dispute lawyer on your side, you go to battle with the insurer fully prepared. Now strong enough to protect your rights in the face of manipulation and other ‘bad faith’ tactics, you can prove the true worth of your damage claim.

“I Uphold the Insurance Policies My Clients Purchased”

“In insurance litigation cases, I will make sure that I do everything I can within my power to hold the insurance companies accountable and hold their feet to the fire for the obligations they are required to uphold in accordance with the insurance policies my clients purchased from them.” – Property Damage Claims Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas

Example Scenario:

Your insurance dispute lawyer holds the insurance company accountable. If they can’t be pressured into doing the right thing through communication, the litigation proceedings begins.

With the constant pressure from your insurance dispute lawyer, the insurance company will be forced to take the full value of your claim seriously.

Note: Although a severely damaged roof in a storm is an extreme example, insurance disputes can arise in all manner of property damage claims – from fallen trees to water damage.

When Is an Insurance Dispute Lawyer Needed?

Contacting an insurance dispute lawyer from day one can help you successfully make a property damage claim without drama and wasted time. However, the following criteria will call for the need of an attorney:

  • Undervalued Claims
  • Denied Claims
  • Insurers use delay tactics
  • Insurers use manipulative or bullying tactics
  • Insurers incorrectly state your policy doesn’t cover your damage
  • Insurers don’t reply to your messages
  • Insurers claim there is a loophole preventing you from receiving the payment
  • Insurers blame you for the damage
  • They claim the damage already existed prior to the incident.

Contact a Florida Insurance Dispute Lawyer Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make a property damage claim or have been unfairly denied, undervalued or tricked by your insurance carrier, then contact us today.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate insurance disputes.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.

5 01, 2022

Can You Make a Tornado Insurance Claim in Florida?

By |2022-01-05T15:37:46-05:00January 5th, 2022|Categories: Insurance Claims|Tags: , , |

If your property or home has suffered damage from a tornado, we can help you make a tornado insurance claim. Doing so may help you rebuild your home and replace lost items or appliances.

Tornadoes in Florida

Although hurricanes make the headlines in Florida, tornadoes are extremely common, albeit far less severe.

While tornadoes plague the Midwest, Florida has more tornadoes per unit area, but they’re far weaker – at around EF0 or EF1 intensity.

Nevertheless, if a tornado works its way through your street, then it’s likely to cause significant property damage.

South West Florida has recently seen tornadoes cause homes torn apart, trees falling on cars, pool cages smashed and eye-watering property damage bills.

Fear not, twisters are just as valid as hurricanes so yes – you can make a Florida tornado insurance claim.

Here’s how:

How to Make a Florida Tornado Damage Claim:

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tornado Insurance Claims?

Natural disasters like hurricanes, storms, earthquakes and tornadoes cannot be stopped and tend to be covered by homeowners insurance.

However, it should be noted that flood damage (that is, water damage caused by storms and natural disasters) is not usually included in a typical homeowners insurance policy and must be purchased separately.

Click here to see our blog on Flood Damage vs Water Damage.

For example, if your home sustained roof damage from a tornado, your policy would likely cover the costs of repair, but it wouldn’t for the flooding that occurred as a result unless you have separate flood damage coverage.

Homeowners insurance will also likely reimburse any expenses if you cannot safely live in your home due to tornado damage.

Undervalued Claims

Sadly, having coverage doesn’t guarantee your insurance company will hand over a check easily, or with the figure you need on it.

Insurance companies are for-profit. They value their losses more than whether you get enough money.

People making tornado insurance claims in Florida are regularly undervalued. Which is a huge problem when trying to repair or rebuild your home and replace your belongings.

Speak to a Florida Tornado Damage Attorney

Fear not, we can help. As experienced Florida property damage attorneys, we regularly fight on behalf of homeowners to get the money they deserve.

Resolving Undervalued or Denied Claims

When you pay for your insurance, you expect to be protected in these scenarios. If you’ve been undervalued or denied in your claim, we can handle the communication on your behalf.

By presenting the evidence and not falling for their manipulation and tricks, we will bring you the results you deserve.

With first-hand experience of the insurance industry, our Florida property damage attorney team is respected by insurers which will also significantly help as they know we’re not going to be bullied.

Disagreements of Policy Coverage

In many cases, insurance companies try to trick homeowners into misunderstandings about their policy coverage.

For example, they’ll say they’ll fix a portion of your roof but not the entire roof.

In these scenarios, our Florida tornado insurance claim attorneys can help review your policy and handle all communications with the insurance company on your behalf.

Disagreements over Damage

Insurers may also claim the damage is less than you think. They might even say the damage already existed.

Our Florida tornado insurance claim attorneys will ensure the truth is respected and that the tornado damage is covered and not dismissed.

‘Bad Faith’ Insurers

If an insurance company unfairly denies, underpays, delays or tricks you it is called acting in ‘bad faith’.

In these scenarios, our Florida tornado insurance claim attorneys will protect your rights and if necessary file a lawsuit.

What If I’ve Already Made a Florida Tornado Insurance Claim?

If you’ve previously submitted a Florida tornado insurance claim then we can still help. Never accept a low ball offer, as we can step in and ensure all the damage is correctly documented and that the true valuation of your damage and repair cost is met.

How to Prepare for a Florida Tornado Damage Claim?

If your home or business has been damaged due to a tornado, then you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible to file the claim. However, it is always advised that you speak to a Florida property damage attorney first.

You may also have the urge to clean up your property immediately, but this may not be the best idea. An insurance company representative will assess the damage to determine how much they need to pay you, so don’t fix the evidence before that.

Ensure you take pictures of all damage before moving or salvaging anything. Keep notes, receipts, inventory and any evidence that could support your claim.

Florida Tornado Facts:

When is Florida’s Tornado Season?

Tornadoes in Florida form in different ways throughout the year. Most form in the spring or summer months as the strong sea breezes and tropical cyclones collide.

However, John Allen, an associate professor of meteorology at Central Michigan University, says:

“In North Florida, up towards Tallahassee, you can see high-end tornadoes with some regularity, but the further south you go, the less of a chance there is. You don’t have anything to worry about if you’re in Miami.

“You may not get the really high-end tornadoes, but Florida is susceptible to getting a large number of tornadoes up to EF2 intensity along with tropical system and that’s more than enough to kill someone or cause significant damage.”

How Many Tornadoes Are There in Florida Each Year?

  • Florida has an annual average of 66 tornadoes.
  • Florida has the third-highest number of annual tornadoes in the U.S.
  • An average of 1,253 tornadoes occur in the U.S. every year.

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Where Can I See Tornado Warnings?

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Tornado Damage

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered damage from a tornado or storm, contact us today to assist with your Florida tornado insurance claim.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate property damage insurance claims.

Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.