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.

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.

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.

5 12, 2021

What’s the Difference Between Water Damage & Flood Damage?

By |2021-12-05T13:08:13-05:00December 5th, 2021|Categories: Insurance Claims, Water Damage Law|Tags: , , , |

Once hurricane season has done its damage, many homeowners are left confused about what the difference is between water damage and flood damage.

While these may seem like two of the same things, they’re actually completely different in the property damage insurance industry.

Why is it important to know the difference between water damage and flood damage? Because one is often missing from your usual homeowners or hurricane insurance policy – so, if you’re aren’t aware, you could be left paying for substantial repair bills.

Here’s what you need to know:

What Is Water Damage in Florida?

Water damage usually is caused by internal issues within the house, such as a plumbing disaster.

For example, imagine you’re at home, watching a movie with the kids, when suddenly you see water flowing down the stairs like a waterfall because a bathroom pipe has burst.

That’s water damage.

Examples of Water Damage:

  • Burst pipes
  • Toilet overflowing
  • Bathtub or shower leaks
  • Refrigerator or freezer leaks
  • Washing machine leaks
  • Dishwasher leaks
  • HVAC systems failing to drain
  • Automatic fire systems

What Is Flood Damage in Florida?

Flood damage defines damage caused by Mother Nature’s external force. Whereas water damage is caused by plumbing, toilets or human error, Flood damage is caused by natural sources such as storms and rivers.

If a river in your neighborhood rises over its banks into your home, that’s flood damage.

Examples of Flood Damage in Florida:

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

What Does This Mean in a Property Damage Claim?

If you don’t have both included in your insurance policy, you’re at risk of not being covered for one of these types of damage.

Usually, Florida residents will have water damage coverage and not flood damage coverage.

Given that Florida is extremely vulnerable to violent storms and hurricanes, having flood damage in your policy is highly advised.

If you’re unsure, pull out your insurance policy document and read over the terms.

Is Flood Damage Covered in Hurricane Policies?

If a hurricane causes flooding in your home, you will not be covered by your hurricane damage policy in Florida.

Sadly, many people make this assumption and are left to cover a huge bill after a hurricane.

A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover all flood damage, even if it is caused by the most violent hurricane in history.

There is usually a 30-day waiting period when adding flood insurance, so it’s always advised to be proactive rather than reactive and buy the additional policy now.

What to Do if My Property Has Suffered Water Damage or Flood Damage in Florida?

File a Property Damage Claim

If your property has suffered water damage or flood damage in Florida, you can file a property damage claim to cover the expenses required for repairs.

However, this is easier said than done.

Property damage claims will require you to communicate and negotiate with insurance companies who have one intention – to pay you as little as possible.

In many cases, we’ve seen homeowners denied completely, as the insurance company claims it was because a window was left open, for example.

Undervalued claims are also a common trick used by insurance companies, as they pressure property owners into a lowball offer.

Accepting these offers leaves the owners without enough coverage for their repairs and they end up paying money out of their own pocket.

Speak to a Water Damage Attorney

That’s why it’s highly advised that you first speak to a Florida water damage attorney. We will communicate with the insurers on your behalf, avoiding their manipulation techniques and getting you the true coverage for your property damage.

Document The Damage

If safe to do so, you should also document the water damage or flood damage as this can become crucial evidence.

Take pictures of the property and keep receipts for appliances and any emergency repairs.

What Damage Is Caused by Water and Flooding?

When disaster strikes, either inside or outside of the home, your property may suffer severe flooding and water-inflicted damage. This can result in catastrophic damage that is expensive to repair and may not be immediately visible. This may include:

Structural and Electrical Damage

Large quantities of water can cause structural damage that can make the property unsafe to live in.

  • Buckling floors
  • Roof damage
  • Foundational cracks and movements
  • Weakened doors and window frames

Additionally, if you notice any broken or frayed electrical wires in your home after a flood, be very careful. These may be lethal and are warning signs to stay out of the home immediately until an electrician assesses them.

Appliance Damage

Appliances are expensive purchases that can be destroyed in seconds by water. Appliances at floor level are usually severely damaged in floods, beyond repair. Appliances are usually covered in flood damage or water damage claims.

Mold and Mildew

Mold can begin to grow on the same day the water or flood damage occurs. Mold can cause health issues and severe damage to building materials, drywall, flooring, insulation and personal property.

Professional mold cleaning and repairs can be covered in a property damage claim.

Septic and Well Water Systems

Septic tank filters can get clogged by flooding debris, limiting its use. Similarly, wells can become contaminated.

Termite and Bug Infestation

Moldy and flooded areas can quickly become the perfect home and breeding grounds for rodents, termites and unpleasant bugs. Cleaning out these will require professional services that should be covered in water damage or flood damage claims.

Recap – What’s the Difference Between Water Damage and Flood Damage Claims?

  • Water damage is caused by internal disasters, such as burst pipes and plumbing accidents.
  • Flood damage is caused by acts of nature, such as hurricanes and flooding rivers.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Water Damage and Flood Damage Claims

Free Consultations!

If your property has suffered damage due to 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.

2 09, 2021

Common Types of Property Damage Claims

By |2021-09-02T09:56:02-04:00September 2nd, 2021|Categories: Fire Damage Law, Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims, Tree Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

There are various types of property damage claims in Florida that can help you rebuild and repair following the devastating effects of natural disasters and accidents.

Property damage occurs more often than people think, so it’s important that you have the necessary homeowners insurance. Note that in some cases, you may need to buy an add-on to your homeowner’s policy.

Here are the most common types of property damage claims in Florida and how a property damage attorney can help:

Wind and Hail Damage

The most common type of property damage claim is for those caused by wind (34%). On average, a wind damage claim accounts for $11,200 worth of damage.

These claims cover damage caused by hurricanes, hail storms, tornadoes and other strong storms. Storms bring strong winds that can rip the roof apart or throw debris at your walls, leading to expensive repairs. Common wind damages include:

  • Broken Outdoor Furniture
  • Broken Windows
  • Damaged Air Conditioning Units
  • Damaged Roofs
  • Damaged walls from flying debris
  • Damaged solar panels
  • Fallen or uprooted trees
  • Missing or broken shutters
  • Severely damaged exterior paintwork, stucco or cladding
  • Structural Damage
  • Water intrusion

Water Damage

Water damage causes damage fast. Long-lasting damage too. Whether it’s a broken pipe, plumbing failure, hurricane or flood, these are expensive repair jobs. It’s important to remember that while the extent of the water damage may be obvious, it’s best to get a proper appraisal with the help of a property damage attorney – to ensure you and your insurance company don’t miss anything.

In 2018, 23.8% of property damage claims were for water damage. Common examples include:

  • Damaged appliances
  • Damaged furniture
  • Discoloration on walls, ceilings and floors
  • Mildew
  • Structural damage
  • Termite and bug infestation
  • Weakened foundations

Fire Damage

32.7% of property damage claims come from fires. Fires are brutal. Whether they’re started in the kitchen or lightning strikes, they spread fast and burn pretty much anything in sight. They also spread smoke and chemicals throughout the property. It’s vital that your insurance policy covers fire damage, as they can strike anyone at any time.

Be warned that insurance companies find ways to blame homeowners for fires, from accusations of arson to violating your policy. That’s why you should always contact a property damage attorney to get a fair payment.

On average, this type of property damage claim accounts for $79,785 worth of damage. Examples include:

  • Appliances and electrical items damaged
  • Damaged electrical systems
  • Damaged plumbing systems
  • Destroyed furniture
  • Discoloration of walls and belongings
  • Foundation damage
  • Odor from smoke
  • Roof damage
  • Structural damage

Sinkhole Damage

If you live in Florida, then sinkholes should be included in your homeowner’s insurance policy. There are more reported sinkholes in Florida than in any other U.S. state.

Sinkholes are often hard to detect but can pull your home to the ground. If you see even a small sinkhole, it could signal a bigger problem further below.

In Florida, homeowners are required by law to offer coverage for catastrophic ground cover collapse, but comprehensive sinkhole coverage is optional.

Insurance companies are notorious for working their way out of paying for sinkhole damage, which is why you should contact a property damage attorney to fight for you.

Hurricane Damage

When Florida’s hurricane season hits, property damage claims go through the roof. They become one of the most common types of property damage claims.

Hurricanes are particularly devastating, with even the most robust buildings often suffering some form of external damage.

It’s important to note that Florida’s homeowner insurance covers hurricane damage caused by wind, but flooding is not. That’s why it’s often advised to take out an additional flood damage policy to cover all bases.

Theft Damage

Burglary and theft incidents are frightening but also costly. From stolen items to smashed windows or possessions, you deserve to be compensated for this damage. 1 in 400 insured homes makes a property theft claim every year.

Although these damages are protected under home insurance policies, insurers are often reluctant to pay out the necessary fee. They may blame you for lack of security or undervalue your items. Thankfully, property damage attorneys are experienced and comfortable with taking on these big insurers and proving that you deserve the full payout.

The FBI found that 74% of burglaries occur in residential neighborhoods.

Tree Damage

Florida property owners are well aware of the damages caused by trees in storms and hurricanes. Strong winds can rip trees from the ground, causing them to smash into windows and walls while devastating the yard.

But did you know tree damage can occur naturally too? From encroaching roots to falling tree branches, it happens every day.

Tree damage claims may seem simple, but they’re often complicated. Roots and branches can cross property lines causing confusion and claim denials from insurers.

If your property has incurred tree damage, you should contact a property damage attorney to help make a case that brings you the damage cover you deserve.

What to Do If Your Property Has Been Damaged?

If your property has suffered damage, you can make one of these types of property damage claims to receive financial cover for the losses, repairs and rebuilding.

Sadly, insurance companies do not just hand out money without making it difficult. They have a variety of tricks up their sleeves. They often try to blame you, undervalue your losses, deny claims, use delaying tactics and more – all to pressure you into accepting a low ball offer.

But you deserve better. That’s where we come in. As property damage attorneys, we help fight insurance companies to get you the money you’re owed. We’ll prove the costs of your damages and won’t give in to the tricks and pressures of insurers.

Property Damage Attorney in St Petersburg, Florida

Free Consultation Today

If your property has suffered damage or you’re facing a problematic insurance company, then contact us today.

Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by U.S. 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 tackle the insurance companies.

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

7 08, 2021

Tips for Filing Insurance Claims for Hurricane Property Damage in Florida

By |2021-08-07T08:16:55-04:00August 7th, 2021|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims|Tags: , , , , , , |

Nearly every year we see significant hurricane property damage in Florida as hurricane season tears trees from the ground, causes significant flooding and worse. For example, when Hurricane Harvey hit, it caused around $125 billion in damages in Florida.

If your home or business has suffered in a recent storm, then a hurricane insurance claim can help you make repairs and recover your financial losses.

While it may seem a simple process, people make many mistakes when filing property damage claims for hurricanes, so it’s best to follow these tips:

Types of Hurricane Property Damage Claims

The following insurance policies are often used to cover damage caused by hurricanes:

Windstorm Insurance

Florida insurance companies offer this policy as an additional deductible. The cost varies depending on where you live. It is often used for damaged roofs and exteriors damaged by strong winds or debris from hurricanes.

Flood Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance does not cover storm surges or flooding. Instead, flood damage from hurricanes is covered in flood insurance which is purchased as an additional deductible. Flooding in Florida is common during hurricane season. Just one inch of water can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage.

How to File a Hurricane Property Damage Claim in Florida

If you’ve suffered hurricane property damage in Florida, then you need to notify your insurance company as soon as possible.

If you have a concrete understanding of your homeowner’s insurance policy, then you can do this as soon as possible.

If not, then it’s best to review the details of your policy. This can save you from missing any details that see you miss out on a fair settlement. If you have any doubts, contact a property damage attorney.

How Long Do I Have to File a Hurricane Insurance Claim

You often have a shorter window of time for claims for hurricane property damage in Florida than other insurance claims, such as car accidents.

Florida’s property damage statute of limitation is four years from the date of the damage. If you don’t make your hurricane insurance claim before then, then it’s likely you will be denied.

Once you’ve made your hurricane insurance claim, your insurer will have two weeks to acknowledge it. Then, they’ll investigate your property damage.

Investigate The Damage

Step one is making your own in-depth investigation of the property. Insurers will later carry out their own investigation, but that’s often to see if your claims are legitimate rather than checking for anything you’ve missed.

List all your damages. This includes broken windows, damaged walls, roofs, flooded floors, damaged valuables, computers, furniture, appliances and more. If something’s been damaged, make a note of it on a list. You’ll use this later when filing your claim.

Take Pictures of the Property Damage

Before making any claim for hurricane property damage in Florida, you must take photos of the damage.

Evidence of the damage will significantly support the legitimacy of your claim. Take photos of everything on your list and every room of your home. Store them in a folder in your email or cloud, so you can access them at any time.

Check With Your Insurer Before Discarding Damaged Items

Don’t discard any damaged items or materials until your insurance adjuster has seen them. The last thing you want is for your insurer to claim there’s no evidence of the damaged items. However, if your local municipality asks you to discard the items for safety reasons, then taking photos is a good backup.

Keep All Your Receipts

From repair receipts to the original receipts of appliances, computers and more – keep them. They’re evidence of how much you paid and how much you deserve to be compensated by your insurer. Store them in an organized place so they’re ready to show if your insurer asks.

Keep Records of Who You Talk To

Document anyone you speak to at the insurance company. Note their name, what was discussed and the date the call happened on. This can help with any problems of insurers going back on their word or providing misguidance.

Review All Documents Carefully

It may seem obvious, but many people just skim-read documents. For example, a ‘proof of loss’ document will be given to you to sign by your insurance adjuster. This will detail the pricing of your repairs. You must read this carefully to check that every repair has been included.

If reviewing documents is daunting, then contact a Florida property damage attorney for their legal expertise to ensure you make no mistakes.

What to Expect from Your Hurricane Insurance Company?

You have the right to repair and replace the damages on your property and receive compensation to cover those costs. Your insurance company must also:

  • Provide notice within 14 days that they’ve received your claim.
  • Provide notice that your claim is being paid or denied or investigated within 30 days.
  • Provide notice that they’ve finished reviewing your claim, denying your claim or paying partial or fully for your claim within 90 days.
  • Ensure that any claim filed includes a maximum amount payable and a deductible, which will later be subtracted from the total compensation paid to you.

It should also be stressed that insurance companies are notoriously difficult to work with. They don’t hand out money easily. Their adjusters and lawyers will work hard to find ways to pay you as little as possible. From claiming you don’t have evidence of the damage to saying you left a window open (in flood scenarios), we’ve seen it all.

Gain Legal Expertise from a Florida Property Damage Attorney

Naturally, you might be apprehensive. That’s where we can help. As Florida property damage attorneys, we’re very familiar with the tricks insurance companies pull in hurricane insurance claims.

We’ll ensure you meet the deadline to file a claim and have a solid case. Our team works to collect evidence, so there’s no chance for an insurance adjuster to come along and underpay.

We also don’t give in to low ball figures. We get you the money you deserve in your hurricane insurance claim.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Hurricane Claims

Free Consultations!

If your home or business has suffered from hurricane damage in Florida, 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 hurricane insurance claims.

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

28 06, 2021

New Florida Property Damage Bill: What Does it Mean?

By |2021-06-28T08:38:47-04:00June 28th, 2021|Categories: Fire Damage Law, Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims, Tree Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed Senate Bill 76 into law which will have a significant impact on homeowner’s insurance claims in Florida.

Created to give relief to a large sector of the state’s insurance industry, the SB 76 bill will cause wide changes to the handling and litigation of homeowner’s insurance claims.

Here’s what the new Florida homeowner’s insurance bill may mean for you if you’re making a property damage claim in Florida:

No More Soliciting From Contractors

From July 1, 2021, contractors will be prohibited from soliciting property owners, including offers for making roof damage claims.

Specifically, contractors will be prohibited from advertising to ‘encourage, instruct or induce’ a consumer to contact contractors or public adjusters in order to make roof damage claims.

That means no more door hangers, flyers, signs, emails, magnets, pamphlets, business cards or people knocking your door with property damage claim offers.

This statute applies to anyone working for a contractor, either as an employee or specifically for soliciting. Contractors can also no longer interpret insurance policies or advise insured people without being a licensed public adjuster.

No More Offers for Roof Inspections

Florida Statute § 489.147 will also prohibit financial incentives for roof claims.

Contractors in Florida often offer rebates, gift cards, coupons and other deals in exchange for roof inspections.

Similarly, the new statute restricts the use of referral fees or rewards for any roof repair or replacement services payable by property insurance proceeds.

Reduced Time Frame to Make Property Damage Claims

SB 76 also expands the existing Florida property damage claim notice statute. Previously, property owners had 3 years to file and reopen property damage claims.

But now, beginning July 1, 2021, if you want to make a property damage claim, or reopen a claim you must do so within two years of the date the damage occurred.

A ‘supplemental claim’ is no longer allowed, unless you make notice of that claim within three years.

Additionally, this will now also cover all property damage claims, not just hurricane claims.

Note: This will not change the existing five-year statute of limitations for filing a breach of contract lawsuit under Florida Statute § 95.11.

What Are Reopened or Supplemental Property Damage Claims?

  • A reopened claim is a property damage claim that was closed, but has been reopened to help cover additional costs or damage that was previously disclosed.
  • A supplemental claim is a property damage claim for additional damages not previously covered, from the same situation as previously adjusted or for costs incurred during repairs.

Other Changes in the New Florida Property Damage Bill

  • Allows for larger annual rate increases for customers of Citizens Property Insurance, the government-backed insurer. Currently, the cap is at 10%, but that could gradually increase to 15% over the next five years.
  • Steps to limit fees of attorneys representing homeowners in lawsuits against insurers. This will be done via a formula that compares how much money is awarded in court judgments and how much was offered by insurers in claim settlements before the lawsuit.

What Impact Could This Have on Florida residents?

While insurers may claim the new Florida property damage bill will keep costs down, many critics are concerned these law changes will raise premiums on homeowners who receive coverage from state-backed providers as a last resort.

When Does The New Florida Property Damage Bill Begin?

Florida SB 76 takes effect July 1, 2021.

Why The New Florida Property Damage Bill?

The insurance industry argues that it has suffered considerable losses in recent years through property damage claims and this is an effort to minimize the number of claims.

Lawmakers also believe the bill is needed as private insurers have raised rates, forcing many homeowners to turn to Citizens for coverage.

At the bill-signing event in Sarasota, Senate sponsor Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton said, “I think we’ve gotten at the cost drivers here, the unscrupulous contractors, the unlicensed contractors. We’ve got significant penalties and responsibilities for them that will get at the costs. And then some of the claims reporting and some other areas that I think will definitely make a difference, and it will drive costs down.”

But Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami argued, “There is no sugar-coating this, it literally is going to raise the rates.”

Did You Know?

How to Make a Property Damage Claim?

If your property damage claim has been turned down by an insurer or if you’re unsure on where to start, then contact a Property Damage attorney as soon as possible.

Insurers are notorious for finding ways to avoid paying out what property owners deserve. From denying claims, to stalling and putting the blame on you, we’ve seen it all.

By hiring a property damage attorney, you can find help to navigate the claims process. They’ll take on the daunting team of lawyers that insurers are armed with and will give you the best chance at receiving compensation to cover your repairs.

Property damage claims often include:

  • Fire Damage
  • Sinkhole Damage
  • Storm and Hurricane Damage
  • Theft Damage
  • Tree Damage
  • Water Damage
  • Wind Damage
  • And More

Act Fast!

Acting fast to make your property damage claim has always been important. But starting July 1, 2021, you have even less time than before.

Be sure to file your property damage claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. SB 76 now shortens the time frame to file your initial claim, so time is of the essence! By contacting a property damage attorney, we can guide you through the claims process.

Property Damage Attorney in St Petersburg, Florida

Free Consultation Today

If you’re suffering from property damage and facing a problematic insurance company, 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 tackle the insurance companies.

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

25 05, 2021

Roof Damage From Storms In Florida

By |2021-05-25T08:53:33-04:00May 25th, 2021|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims|Tags: , , , , , , |

Unfortunately, roof damage from storms in Florida is not a rarity. Hurricane season can be a particularly stressful time for homeowners in the state who may face significant damage to their roofs and costly repairs. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), hurricanes have caused billions of dollars worth of damage to homes in the state.

Many homeowners feel safe with a comprehensive home insurance policy. However, when the damage occurs, they often run into challenges when attempting to recover their losses. Some homeowners find themselves haggling with their insurance company for weeks and even months only to be offered a mere fraction of their expenses. In some cases, roof damage claims are denied altogether.

If this has happened to you, do not give up. Contact St. Petersburg property damage attorney Jonathon W. Douglas. We can work to help you recover what you need to repair your roof and recover your financial losses. Schedule a free consultation with our property claims team today: (727) 381-2300.

Causes of Roof Damage

In Florida, strong storms and hurricanes are the obvious culprits when it comes to roof damage. Excessive winds and driving rain can lead to water intrusion as well as damage to shingles and roofs. However, there can also be other secondary causes for damage from a storm, such as:

Trees

Falling branches or entire trees during a storm can severely damage the roof of a house. Damage from falling trees is not always preventable as even healthy and strong trees can collapse in a violent storm. However, there are some things homeowners can do to reduce the chances of trees damaging roofs such as trimming branches back regularly and remove dead or dying trees altogether.

Lack of Maintenance

Roof damage from lack of maintenance and repair has a habit of showing up during inclement weather such as storms. Roofs need to be maintained on a regular basis. Damaged shingles should be replaced in a timely manner and gutters need regular cleaning. While a maintenance issue may not come to light in fine weather, it can rear its ugly head with vengeance in a storm, when cracked shingles or clogged gutters can cause flooding inside the home and structural damage.

Lightning Damage

Florida is often called the lightning capital of the world. Especially during storms, lightning can cause damage to trees, structures, powerlines, and homes. Lightning can cause damage to your roof as well as your electrical system and electrical appliances, potentially proving extremely costly.

Heat Damage

The heat in Florida can be excessive for months on end. Relentless beating down of the sun can severely shorten the lifespan of all roofing materials. Constant UV, sunlight, and heat can cause cracking and distortion. When a storm comes along, an already weakened and damaged roof may simply not be able to withstand the high winds, leading to water entering the property. Homeowners should check their roofs every so often and arrange for repairs when they notice any cracking, warping, or other damage.

If you have an insurance policy that covers any roof damage from storms in Florida you could be in for surprise when your claim is denied. If this has happened to you and you are struggling to get your due from the insurance company, contact St. Petersburg property damage attorney Jonathon W. Douglas to learn all of your legal options.

What to Do If You Have Roof Damage from a Storm

Wanting to fix any damage to your roof immediately is only natural as not doing so can cause further damage. However, before you do any repairs, try to document the damage as extensively as you can. Ways in which you can maximize your chances for recovering a settlement from the insurance company include:

  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible
  • Taking photographs and videos of all the roof damage outside and inside
  • Recover all receipts and bills for home repairs and roof maintenance
  • Take steps to prevent further damage
  • Determine what it will cost to fix the damage with your own contractor

Your insurance company will most likely send their own adjuster to assess your roof damage. If the insurance company offers you a settlement that differs markedly from your contractor’’s assessment or is far too low to cover your damages, you should consider speaking to a property damage attorney as soon as possible. An experienced roof damage attorney can negotiate with the insurance company and help you recover an adequate settlement for your damages. If the insurance company proves unwilling to compensate you adequately, you may consider filing a lawsuit and taking the case to court with the help of your property damage attorney.

Reasons Why Your Insurance Company Might Deny a Claim

Property damage claims seem reasonably straightforward. In theory, homeowners purchase a policy, then file a claim when their roof is damaged, and subsequently get paid. Unfortunately, it rarely works this way. In many cases, homeowners can struggle, sometimes for years, with recovering their due. An insurance company can deny a claim for a number of reasons and then the homeowner is left to fight for their settlement. Reasons why an insurer might deny a claim for roof damage from a storm in Florida can include:

  • Improper maintenance
  • The roof is too old
  • Wear and tear
  • Pre-existing roof damage

If your insurance company denied your claim for whatever reason, you should consider speaking to a property damage attorney to find out about all of your options and ensure your legal rights remain protected. In some cases, claims are denied in the first instance but you can still receive compensation from an insurance company. We can review your insurance policy, appeal against the denial, and help you get the payment needed to repair your roof.

Contact St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas Today

The sooner you start the process of recovering the insurance settlement you deserve, the sooner you could repair your property adequately.

Fighting the insurance company on your own can be a frustrating and lengthy battle. However, it does not have to be this way. We are experienced in handling Florida’s largest insurance companies and have helped countless clients recover the settlement they needed after suffering roof damage from storms in Florida.

Get the process started and speak to our property damage team today: (727) 381-2300.

27 04, 2021

Water Damage Claims Due to Florida Hurricanes

By |2021-04-27T08:09:58-04:00April 27th, 2021|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims|Tags: , , |

Living in paradise in Florida can come with certain downsides such as hurricanes, storm surges, and flooding. Natural disasters and high insurance premiums go hand in hand. However, homeowners are generally willing to pay high premiums in order to protect themselves from the devastating consequences of hurricanes, such as structural damage and water intrusion.

Unfortunately, despite having insurance coverage, getting the compensation you have a right to under the law from the insurance company can be an uphill struggle after a storm. Moreover, some policies, while covering wind damage, may deny claims for water damage and flooding.

If your insurance denied or underpaid your water damage claim due to a Florida hurricane, a water damage lawyer can help you recover your due. St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas knows how to handle hurricane claims and could help you prove that water damage to your home occurred due to a wind event such as a major storm or hurricane. Contact us today to find out how we can help you recover the insurance coverage that you paid for: (727) 381-2300.

Your Next Best Steps After a Hurricane

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2020 saw a record-breaking $22 billion dollars’ worth of weather and climate disasters. One thing is for sure: hurricanes are here to stay. Knowing what steps to take immediately after experiencing a hurricane can protect your legal rights and make it easier to recover your due from your insurance company. Most importantly, acting quickly can help your property suffer from any additional post-hurricane damage and deterioration. Your best steps after suffering property damage can include:

Contact the Insurance Company as Soon as Possible

Ask your insurance company to send out an adjuster as soon as possible to inspect your property, damages, and begin the process of filing a claim. The sooner you contact your insurer and start a claim, the sooner you can potentially receive funds to repair your property and move on with your life after a devastating hurricane.

Protect Your Property from Additional Damage

You should take immediate steps after a storm to ensure that your property does not deteriorate any further. Actions can include:

  • Boarding up any open windows and doors
  • Securing tarps over any roof openings
  • Mitigating water intrusion and reducing moisture by using dehumidifiers
  • Keeping the air-conditioning running to avoid mold growth

Document all Damage to your Home

One of the most important steps you can take after a storm is to document all damage to your home with photographs, videos, and comprehensive notes. If your entire home has suffered some degree of damage, make sure you provide a room-by-room inventory. Do not forget the outside of your home and, if applicable, document damage to your screens, pool, and patio areas.

Collect Evidence of Repair Expenses

The insurance company will want you to provide evidence of any repairs you have made, including receipts for replacements of cabinets, furniture, windows, and the costs of repainting your home, to name just a few examples.

Consider Consulting with a Water Damage Lawyer

It is never too early to protect your legal rights and get advice from an experienced water damage lawyer after suffering damage in a hurricane. An attorney can advise you on how to handle your insurance claim and help you recover adequate compensation for your damages. Contact St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas today for advice on your unique situation.

Why Has the Insurance Company Denied My Water Damage Claim?

While no two insurance policies are the same, homeowners can be entitled to various benefits under their homeowner’s policy, including but not limited to:

  • Costs of repairs to the home
  • Costs for replacing damaged furniture and fittings
  • Costs to replace damaged or lost personal property
  • Costs for temporary accommodation while the home is uninhabitable

Although it can feel unfair and frustrating to those who suffered significant damage to their homes, it is not at all uncommon for an insurance company to drag its heels and refuse or minimize a water damage claim after a hurricane.

Reasons that insurances state for refusing or underpaying your claim can include:

  • Your policy excludes damage from flooding or has other exclusions
  • Your coverage limit is too low to cover all your damages
  • You failed to provide comprehensive evidence of your damages
  • The insurance company claims you were negligent in protecting your home
  • The insurance company claims there was pre-existing damage to your home

Depending on your individual damage and the fine print of your insurance policy, there can be other reasons for your insurance company refusing an adequate payout. However, it is important not to panic as an initial refusal to compensate homeowners adequately can be common when it comes to water damage claims in a Florida hurricane.

Individuals faced with a denied claim should not give up trying to recover the compensation they are owed under the law. As a homeowner in Florida, you generally have recourse when an insurer underpays or denies your claim. A water damage lawyer can help you get clear on your options and rights for recovering what you deserve.

How a Water Damage Lawyer Can Help You

According to Insurance.com, the average cost of windstorm insurance in Florida can be around $2,600 a year. If you purchased an adequate insurance policy for storm and hurricane damage, you should not be left out of pocket when you have a valid claim. A seasoned water damage lawyer is familiar with the tactics that insurance companies use to minimize or deny claims. Ways in which a determined attorney can help you include but are not limited to:

  • Verifying details of your insurance policy documents comprehensively
  • Communicate with the insurance company adjuster
  • Tracking your claim
  • Ensuring the insurance company is not short-changing you with a law payout
  • Filing a lawsuit against the insurance company if needed

Contact an Experienced Water Damage Claim Attorney Today

If your home suffered water damage due to a storm or hurricane, you do not have to struggle during this difficult time on your own. Our legal team can help you stand up to the insurance company and leave no stone unturned in pursuing the settlement that you deserve. While we handle your claim, you can concentrate on fixing your home and getting some normality back after a devastating hurricane.

St. Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon W. Douglas can advise you of your legal rights and help ensure they remain protected. Call us today to schedule a free consultation: (727) 381-2300.