Pinellas County Flooding and Hurricane Insurance Claim FAQs

By |2023-09-19T15:23:33-04:00September 19th, 2023|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , |

Reading these Pinellas County flooding and hurricane insurance claim FAQs can help you avoid exploitation and undervaluations from insurers.

With winds of up to 125 mph, Hurricane Idalia has caused devastating damage to parts of Florida with Pinellas County suffering from ocean flooding and hurricane wind damage. If your property has been a victim of this, please review our flood and hurricane insurance claims FAQs below:

Can I File a Hurricane Insurance Damage Claim in Pinellas County?

  • Yes. As an insurance policyholder, you have the right to file a property damage claim following a hurricane in Florida.
  • However, please read below to understand your rights for flood damage.
  • Recent Florida property damage law changes now mean that it is only worth hiring a property damage lawyer if your home has suffered significant high-value damage.

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

  • Water damage and flood damage are considered very different things in the insurance world.
  • Water damage is damage caused by internal issues in your home, such as plumbing leaks, broken pipes or human error.
  • Flood damage is damage caused by Mother Nature’s external forces, such as ocean or river flooding and storms.

Read Related: Full Guide on Water Damage vs Flood Damage

Does My Policy Cover Flood Damage?

  • Pinellas County residents are not automatically covered for flood damage.
  • They must purchase flood damage coverage in a policy add-on.
  • If you’re unsure, review your policy documents.

Is Flood Damage Covered in Hurricane Policies?

  • Hurricane damage policies do not cover flooding in your home.
  • A separate flood insurance policy is required for flooding.
  • However, if the wind created a hole that allowed flood water to enter you may be able to gain coverage via the hurricane coverage.
  • Hurricane damage covers the damage caused by strong winds, such as broken roofs, windows, doors, structures and other property damage.

What Should I Do After a Flood or Hurricane Damages My Home in Pinellas County?

  • Protect your personal safety, by evacuating and returning when it is safe.
  • Consider if you can mitigate further damage, such as through broken window repairs.
    • Many Florida property damage policies will pay up to $3,000 for mitigation repairs.
    • If your mitigation repairs exceed that value, contact the insurer about the damage.
  • Document your damage with photographs ASAP.
    • Take photos of flood damage and wind damage.
    • Look for signs of broken winds, structures, and roof damage.
    • Take photos of where the water and wind entered the property (such as holes)
    • Make an inventory of contents and items damaged.
    • Do not dispose of anything until the property has been inspected.
    • Keep all receipts of expenses related to repairs and relocation.

How Long Do I Have to File a Hurricane or Flood Claim in Pinellas County?

As of 2023, Pinellas County property damage policyholders have just:

  • 1 year to file a new or reopened claim (from the date of the hurricane).
  • 18 months to make a supplemental claim.

Read Related: Property Damage Claims Under the New Florida Laws

When Do I Report to My Insurer?

  • You should inform your insurer of the hurricane damage as soon as possible, this can help you gain emergency measures such as repairs.
  • They can provide you with trusted and licensed repair teams.
  • Insurance companies are known for denying claims that are not reported ‘promptly’, which can be as strict as just a few days after the event.

Should I Make Emergency Repairs?

  • You should make efforts to mitigate damage, such as through emergency repairs.
  • As advised above, you can do this by contacting your insurer.
  • However, you can also act quickly yourself if possible by boarding up windows, locking doors and windows and using sandbags to minimize further flooding.
  • Keep all receipts of any expenses related to these repairs, so you can include the costs in your property damage claim.

Should I Hire a Property Damage Lawyer in Pinellas County?

  • If your home has suffered significant, high-value damage then we advise that you contact a property damage lawyer.
    • If your claim is denied or delayed, you should contact a property damage lawyer.
    • If you experience manipulation, bullying or other scare tactics please contact our attorney team ASAP.
    • Remember that the insurance team is working to minimize their expenses, they will try everything they can to give you a low settlement offer. Our attorney team can fight against that.
  • Low-value claims are no longer worth contacting lawyers for (since 2023 property insurance law changes).

How Can I Avoid Pre-Existing Damage Allegations?

  • Insurance companies are known for denying claims due to ‘pre-existing’ damage.
  • To avoid or fight back against these claims, you should:
    • Find any photos of the property before the damage. Ideally, you did this when moving in. But even the background of regular photos is better than nothing (such as walls without water damage, or roofs without holes).
    • Gather any receipts or documents that show proof of previous repairs or maintenance.

When Should the Adjuster Arrive?

  • In catastrophic property damage claims, the adjuster should arrive within 1-2 weeks.
  • In minor cases, they should arrive in 48-72 hours.
  • Policyholders who are elderly or have unique circumstances will often get quicker responses.

Should I Get Independent Property Damage Estimates?

  • You can contact a repair contractor immediately to get an estimate.
  • These can help you understand if the insurance company is offering a fair settlement and evaluation.
  • However, ensure that the property only has temporary repairs done at this point.

What Do I Do if My Claim Is Denied?

  • If your claim has been denied, you may still have a chance to say it.
  • If your property has suffered significant damage, please contact our Pinellas County hurricane damage lawyers for a swift response.
  • We also advise that you:
    • Prove it was wind damage, with strong winds causing rain to enter the property.
    • Use photographs to show the true extent of the damage.
    • Receive an independent evaluation.

Can I Negotiate My Hurricane Damage Settlement Offer?

  • You have the right to negotiate a settlement offer.
  • You always have the right to use an attorney to help you.
  • By presenting evidence such as independent evaluations and quotes, photographs of the damage and receipts relating to damaged contents, you can challenge the proposed settlement figure.
  • Every insurance customer has the right to request a file be reopened and to have it reviewed – especially if you provide new documentation.

What Steps Can I Take Before a Storm Hits to Help with Hurricane Insurance Claim?

If you know a hurricane is coming, taking the following steps can improve your chances of a successful claim after your property suffers damage:

  • Take photos inside and outside of your property.
  • Request a certified copy of your insurance policy from your agent.
  • Log all insurance company communications.
  • Keep all receipts of items and contents in the property, to prove their value (in a safe location).
  • Ensure windows and doors are locked.
  • Purchase a flood damage add-on more than 30 days before the storm.

Read Related: Hurricane Idalia Property Damage Claim Tips and Tricks

Call Our Pinellas County Hurricane Idalia Insurance Claim Lawyers Today

If you are filing high-value Pinellas County flooding or hurricane insurance claims after Hurricane Idalia, please contact us today for a free consultation.

Free Consultations!

Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage attorney 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 navigate hurricane insurance disputes.