Knowing how to prepare for a hurricane damage claim before it hits is wise for all Florida residents. With more than 32 million U.S. homes at risk of hurricane damage, many people may need to file a claim in the future.
When a hurricane does hit, paperwork and documentation will either be too big a stress to handle or too late to search for. If you’re not prepared, your insurance company will use all sorts of reasons to minimize your settlement. They even try when you are prepared!
As experienced hurricane damage attorneys, we recommend taking the following steps to ensure you’re prepared for a hurricane damage claim in advance.
Steps to Prepare for a Hurricane Insurance Claim
Review Your Home Insurance Policy
Insurance companies try to take advantage of customers who lack knowledge. They often try to minimize costs by saying things like “you don’t have sufficient coverage” or “there’s a loophole”.
But if you know what your homeowners’ policy contains, you can fight back against their unfair denial and mind games.
Make sure you:
- Have an up-to-date copy of your insurance policy
- Keep a hard and digital copy.
- Review your policy, so you know the details of your policy
- Coverage limits.
- What your insurance covers;
- What your insurance doesn’t cover;
- What your deductible is.
If you don’t feel confident understanding the policy language when making a claim, contact a property damage attorney.
Think About Flood Insurance
Did you know that flood damage isn’t covered in a standard homeowners insurance policy in Florida? Water damage and flood damage policies are different.
Many people are unaware and are left to pay out-of-pocket for flood damage. If you live in a hurricane-prone area like Florida, then this is an essential thing to think about.
- Water damage policies cover damage caused by issues in the house, such as plumbing or burst pipes.
- Flood insurance policies cover damage caused by external factors, such as natural disasters and floods.
Document All Your Belongings
Insurance adjusters will calculate how much damage you’ve suffered, from your home to your belongings. However, they get things wrong.
They need to know what you’ve lost. And ideally, with proof of the purchase price. You should make a list of your belongings and if possible, store all receipts in a safe location.
However, it’s often near impossible to do this after a hurricane. When the house looks upside, it can be hard to remember every missing or damaged item – let alone the price or specifics.
You should keep an up-to-date list of all your possessions, including:
- Original price
- Purchase date
- Purchase location
- Model number
- Year of manufacture
- Specific details that affect the value
- Take photos
The more information you have about your belongings, the stronger your hurricane damage claim will be. With all this detail, your property damage lawyer can prove to an insurance company its mistakes if their settlement offer is too low.
Document the ‘Before’ Condition of Your Home
Sadly, insurance agents sometimes claim that property damage existed prior to the natural disaster.
To battle this when making your hurricane damage claim, you can show them photos of how it looked before.
To do this, take photos of your home (inside and outside) now. It will prove that your guttering, roofing, door frames, plumbing, windows, trees and other structural components are all in good condition and not to blame for hurricane damage.
Store Documentation in a Safe Place
Once you’ve done all the above, store it in a safe place. Ideally, make a digital copy and a hard copy.
The digital copy should be saved on a cloud storage space (or email it yourself).
The hard copy should be stored somewhere that isn’t vulnerable to external damage or water damage. Such as, in a cupboard high above the floor, in a safe or waterproof bag.
Take Documentation When Evacuating
When it’s time to evacuate from a hurricane, take the documents with you – if safe to do so. It is often hard to know when you’ll return and what condition the home will be in.
Taking the documents guarantees that they’ll be protected and available when it’s time to make a hurricane damage claim.
This is also a good time to mention that it’s wise to collect other important items, such as
- Estate planning documents
- Insurance policy documents
- Vehicle titles and registration
- Insurance documents
- Irreplaceable sentimental belongings.
Read the U.S. government’s official advice page for tips on preparing for a hurricane.
Are Your Contact Details Up to Date?
It may have been years since you signed up for your home insurance coverage. You might now have a new cell phone number or a new email address.
Ensure your contact details are up to date so that your insurance company can contact you easily after a hurricane. You should know what number to call to make a claim.
Know The Tricks of an Insurance Company
Knowing the secret tactics of insurance adjusters before you call them can help you avoid being manipulated into a low-ball offer or rejection.
Common tactics include:
- Tricking you to admit fault
- False deadlines
- Policy loophole claims
- Requesting Unnecessary Documentation
- Undervaluing Your Claim
- Saying it’s forbidden to use an attorney
- Being overly friendly
- False promises
- Slow and tiring negotiations
Contact a Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim Attorney Today
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.