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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.

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.

14 11, 2021

What Is Covered In Hurricane Damage Claims?

By |2021-11-14T13:54:31-05:00November 14th, 2021|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

If your home has been damaged in a hurricane, you might be wondering what is covered in hurricane damage claims?

Florida has already seen four major hurricanes, two hurricanes and various tropical and subtropical storms in 2021 – leaving many homeowners desperate for insurance payments that can help them rebuild their homes.

It should be noted that your hurricane insurance policy may be very different to your neighbors, making it difficult to give a generic amount of compensation you might expect from a hurricane damage claim.

However, most hurricane damage policies are consistent and will cover the following areas of damage:

Types of Damage Covered in Hurricane Damage Claims

Hurricane Damage Is Not Covered in Basic Homeowner’s Policies

First up, it’s important to know that for most Florida residents, hurricane damage will not be covered by basic homeowner’s policies.

You will need to purchase a separate hurricane insurance policy to make hurricane damage claims. Homeowners’ insurance usually only covers water damage from normal rain showers.

Flood Damages Are Not Covered by Hurricane Policies

Many people make the mistake of assuming their hurricane policy will protect them against flooding. Sadly, that is not the case.

A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover any flood damage, even if a category 3 hurricane causes it. In recent years, many homes have been effectively destroyed due to floods, yet the owners were left helpless as they didn’t buy a separate flood insurance policy.

Note that in most cases, adding flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period. It’s always wise to add it right away and be proactive rather than reactive.

Wind Damage to Your Home

Wind damage is usually covered in hurricane damage claims. Hurricane winds can vary from between 74-157 mph, causing violent damage to homes in a matter of minutes.

Roofs, windows and structures are often hit hard, but there have even been cases where homes are ripped off their foundations entirely.

Emergency Repairs to Prevent Further Damage

If wind damage does cause serious damage, then emergency repairs may be required to prevent it from becoming worse. For example, if there is a large hole in the roof or broken windows, then repairs may prevent flooding and further wind damage.

Debris Removal

Hurricanes can cause tiles to fall into the home, tree branches to smash through windows and countless other types of debris to be picked up and land on your property.

Hurricane damage claims can allow you to get professional debris removal when the debris has been caused by hurricane winds.

Replacement of the Damaged Property

If your home has been significantly damaged, your hurricane damage claim may cover you for the actual cash value or replacement value of the damaged property. However, there are an incredible amount of variations in Florida hurricane insurance policies, so speaking to a hurricane damage attorney first is often advised.

Roof Damage

If your home’s roof has been ripped off or hit by a falling tree or hurricane debris, it will likely be applicable in a hurricane damage claim.

Broken Windows

Similarly, windows are frequently smashed in hurricanes as they either get hit by debris or crack due to the movement of the building. Multiple broken windows quickly stack up in repair costs and should be coerced by your hurricane damage insurance.

Smashed Cars

Vehicles damaged by hurricanes may be covered in hurricane damage claims, but this will depend on your policy. If not, cars are usually covered by the comprehensive section of an auto insurance policy m

Interior Damage

Your belongings, electronics, furniture and your home’s interior structure, may have all been damaged due to strong winds. For example, if a locked door is violently pushed open due to the winds, it can cause havoc throughout the home.

Interior damage is usually included in hurricane damage claims.

Cracked Building Foundations

The foundations of a property are essential to safe living. If the foundations are cracked or moved, it may make the building uninhabitable. It should be covered in a hurricane damage claim.

Uprooted Trees and Torn Apart Gardens

Your yard and its trees are just as much a part of your property as your house. If trees are pulled from the ground into windows, roofs or cars, then you can make a hurricane damage claim.

Outside furniture should generally be tied down or safely stored inside, but decks and balconies that are damaged can be claimed for.

Swimming Pools

Similarly, swimming pools contain expensive equipment and designs. If your filtration system, pump or pool’s foundations are damaged due to hurricane winds, then you may be able to make a hurricane damage claim.

Temporary Relocation

Your home may be unsafe to stay in immediately after the hurricane until repairs are made. In this case, your hurricane insurer should cover your expenses for relocation, such as hotel or travel to a friend or family member.

What to Do If Your Home Has Been Damaged in a Florida Hurricane?

If your home has suffered hurricane property damage in Florida, then you should contact an insurance company as soon as possible.

However, without a concrete understanding of your homeowners’ policy, you may be exploited or receive an undervalued claim.

By contacting our property damage attorney, we can review your case and communicate with the insurance company on your behalf. This will protect you from being undervalued, denied or delayed in your much-needed repairs.

Our top tips for hurricane damage claims in Florida include:

  • Speak to a Florida property damage attorney.
  • Investigate the damage, listing all damage from appliances to windows.
  • Take photos of your damage to create proof that it was caused by the hurricane.
  • Contact your insurance company and inform them of the damage.
  • Keep all receipts of damaged items and repair bills.
  • Keep records of which insurance adjuster you’re talking to.
  • Review all documents carefully to avoid being undervalued.

Florida Property Damage Attorneys Specializing in Hurricane Claims

Free Consultations!

If your home or property 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.

2 10, 2021

Florida Hurricane Insurance Claim: Why You Should Contact an Attorney

By |2021-10-02T13:26:29-04:00October 2nd, 2021|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , |

If you need to make a Florida hurricane insurance claim, then you may need legal support.

Understandably, you may not know when or why you need a hurricane damage attorney’s help. Many clients come to us in desperation, realizing they’re being manipulated, but they’re not sure what to do about it.

Insurance companies generally don’t care about you and want one thing – to save money. You deserve better than this. Here’s how a hurricane damage attorney can help.

We Fight Difficult Insurance Providers

Hurricanes cause billions of dollars in damage. For example, Hurricane Katrina saw $108 billion of damage.

Insurance companies consistently try to reduce their expenses by using unjust tactics that leave property owners in dire situations. These are called ‘bad faith’ disputes.

Bad faith Florida hurricane insurance claims include:

  • Claiming damage was caused before the hurricane.
  • Delaying claims dangerously close to deadlines, so you can’t make another.
  • Denying repair bills.
  • Demand you to provide additional paperwork, knowing you’ll struggle to provide it or to slow the process.
  • Argue that the damage was not covered in your policy.
  • Undervaluing the value of your claims, with low ball offers.
  • Failure to investigate your claim fast enough.
  • Delaying or denying payment.

Stand Up to Daunting Florida Hurricane Insurance Companies

So what can a hurricane damage lawyer do to help? Firstly, they’ll stand up to the insurers who often have an army of lawyers.

With legal representation on your side, you won’t break under pressure or be forced into a lowball offer. Our hurricane damage lawyers will see through the insurer’s tricks because we’ve seen them a thousand times.

Whether your claim was delayed, denied, underpaid or any other form of bad faith, our hurricane damage insurance claim attorneys hold insurance companies responsible through:

  • Preparation
  • Appeals
  • Negotiations
  • Litigation

Insurance Company Laws

In Florida, the law requires insurers to act in good faith. A hurricane damage attorney knows the law inside out and will hold your insurance provider to that law.

The Homeowner Claims Bill of Rights states:

  • You have the right to receive notice that your claim has been received within 14 days.
  • You have the right to receive notice that your claim will be paid, either partially or fully; or is denied; or will be investigated within 30 days.
  • You have the right to receive notice that your claim has been reviewed and that you’ll receive payment or denial within 90 days.

Preparing Your Florida Hurricane Insurance Claim

For anyone who has experienced significant property damage, then it may be beneficial to have an attorney prepare your Florida hurricane insurance claim.

Insurance companies will exploit any weak spots in your claim, or missed information – so your claim must be water-tight.

A hurricane damage attorney will ensure you include all records of expenses, bills and repairs, as well as gathering and including photographic and video evidence of the damage.

They’ll also check the hurricane insurance claim is correctly filed and submitted before any deadlines.

When Is It Time to Contact a Florida Hurricane Damage Attorney?

In almost every case, the sooner the better – to avoid missing deadlines and costly mistakes. Sadly, a denied claim is difficult to fight back against without new evidence. That’s why it’s generally best to get a lawyer’s support as soon as possible.

Insurers are also far less likely to mess around, trick, or deny a claim that involves a property damage attorney.

Being proactive is better than reactive. If your claim is well-prepared and has all the necessary evidence and documentation, then you could save yourself time and money on a long and tiring legal battle.

Key Warning Signs

There are key warning signs that your Florida hurricane insurance claim is being handled unfairly.

The previously mentioned ‘bad faith’ disputes are all red flags, plus:

  • You’re told, “your insurance doesn’t cover that damage.”
  • False or misleading statements made by your insurer.
  • You’re offered a settlement that is significantly less than required for repairs.
  • Slow and difficult processing times with bad communication.
  • Ultimatums and new conditions.
  • Insurers advise against speaking to an attorney.
  • Insurers undervalue damage or ignore it entirely.

Remember – you paid your premiums for moments like this. You deserve better than being pressured into low offers or unfair denials.

How to Hire a Florida Hurricane Damage Attorney?

If you believe you need a lawyer to help resolve a Florida hurricane insurance claim, you should:

  • Find an attorney from a Tier 1 law firm.
  • Ensure there is no fee unless you win.
  • Receive a consultation with the attorney.
  • Ask for examples of successful cases similar to yours.

Is a Property Damage Attorney Worth It?

If your claim is denied or undervalued without a fight back, you will be facing significant repair bills without sufficient insurance payments.

If you hire a property damage attorney who asks for no fees unless you win, then you effectively have nothing to lose – the alternative is a feeble low-ball offer, a denied claim or a missed deadline.

Top 10 Hurricane Damage Costs in U.S. History

($ Millions)

  • Hurricane Katrina (2005) – $65,000
  • Hurricane Sandy (2012) – $30,000
  • Hurricane Harvey (2017) – $30,000
  • Hurricane Irma (2017) – $29,900
  • Hurricane Marla (2017) – $29,670
  • Hurricane Andrew (1992) – $16,000
  • Hurricane Ike (2008) – $18,200
  • Hurricane Wilma (2005) – $10,760
  • Hurricane Michael (2018) – $13,250
  • Hurricane Ivan (2004) – $8,720

Statistics provided by iii.org

Hurricane Damage Attorney in St Petersburg, Florida

Free Consultation Today

If your property has suffered damage and your Florida hurricane insurance claim is being mishandled, 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.

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.

12 11, 2020

Guide to Property Damage Caused by Tropical Storm Eta

By |2020-11-12T14:50:51-05:00November 12th, 2020|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims, Tree Damage Law|Tags: , , , , |

Tropical Storm Eta made its fourth landfall on November 12, 2020 at approximately 4:00 a.m. just south of Cedar Key Florida. Upon landfall, Tropical Storm Eta had reported wind speeds of 50 mph, with gusts exceeding 50 mph. According to the National Hurricane Center, tropical storm force winds extended 115 miles from Eta’s center causing far reaching damage for thousands of unsuspecting Floridians.

During the days leading up to Eta’s Cedar Key landfall, meteorologists, storm modeling programs, and the National Hurricane Center had difficulty trying to forecast Eta’s projected track. Due to these difficulties, many of Florida’s coastal residents were unprepared for the storm surge and wind damage that actually occurred. With widespread flooding up and down Florida’s west coast and Eta’s tropical storm force winds causing windstorm damage, Floridians are left asking, “What now”?

What to Do With Property Damage After Tropical Storm Eta

While cleaning up and drying out may be on the top of many people’s lists, before jumping into those momentous tasks, be sure to file a flood insurance claim and/or a homeowner’s insurance claim. These two types of insurance are separate and distinct from one another. Homeowner’s insurance policies specifically exclude damage that is caused by flood waters. This means that in order to recover for loss caused by flood waters, you must also have a Flood Insurance Policy. Flood Insurance Policies are governed by the National Flood Insurance Program and have their own requirements. One of the nuanced issues in flood insurance policies is that they are able to be issued without contents coverage. If you have suffered flood damage and you have flood insurance, be sure to determine if your flood policy has coverage for contents. This is the coverage that will replace your personal items damaged by the flood waters.

Non-Flood Related Damage Caused by ETA

Non-flood related damage caused by Eta should fall under your homeowner’s insurance policy. Non-flood related damages can be roof damage, roof leaks, window damage from flying debris, tree damage, fence damage and so on. Because Eta was not classified as a hurricane for very long, it will likely not be classified as a hurricane for purposes of insurance claims for the most of the damage it caused throughout Florida. The distinction between whether Eta was a hurricane or tropical storm is important when determining what insurance deductible applies. Most non-hurricane homeowners insurance deductibles are lower than hurricane deductibles, so it is important to understand which deductible your insurance company is attempting to impose.

Timely reporting of your flood and or windstorm claim is imperative. If there is a delay in reporting the loss, the insurance companies will argue that they should not have to pay due to your delay in reporting the claim. Taking steps to protect your home after a flood or windstorm loss is equally important as timely reporting. Insurance policies have language which requires homeowners to take protective measures in the event of a loss to prevent further damage. The insurance companies and their adjusters (who oftentimes come from out of state chasing storm claims) will attempt to deny or restrict insurance coverages if they think that a homeowner did not take protective measures.

Taking protective measures to protect your home after a loss is important but be sure to take plenty of photos and videos of the damage, paying particular attention to areas of damage that were a source of water intrusion. Once you have reported your insurance claim, documented the damage, and taken protective measures to prevent more damage, the clean up can begin. During your clean up, be sure to save all damaged items to allow the insurance adjusters an opportunity to inspect these items. If they cannot inspect items which you are claiming were lost, they will attempt to deny your claims on those items because they didn’t get a chance to inspect them.

Flood Related Damage Caused by ETA

After a flood loss, it is important to begin the dry out process as soon as possible. Many people turn to remediation companies to help them in this endeavor. There are many remediation companies out there, and like with any industry, some are better than others. Be sure to do your homework on any remediation company you choose to hire. Read the contracts they ask you to sign. Many of the contracts have language in them that hold the homeowner responsible for billed services that the insurance company does not pay for. While this may seem logical enough, some remediation companies have been known to over bill for their services, which don’t get entirely paid by the insurance companies and then the unexpecting homeowner is left with a massive bill which is contractually owed to the remediation company. These types of remediation companies have no problem filing liens against your home for failing to pay the invoices for purposted services rendered.

Assignment of Benefits

Another issue to look out for when hiring a remediation company is whether they ask you to sign an Assignment of Benefits. An Assignment of Benefits is a contract that a homeowner signs with a remediation company “assigning” the homeowner’s insurance benefits to the contractor in exchange for the contractor’s promise to do the remediation work. In this scenario, the remediation company then “stands in the shoes” of the insured homeowner for purposes of making the insurance claim. The remediation company then moves forward with the work and submits the bills for services rendered to the insurance company. This may sound enticing but what ends up happening is that the insurance company may not pay for some or all of the work the remediation company performed. Then the remediation company, “standing in the shoes” of the homeowner, files a lawsuit against the insurance company for failing to pay. At this juncture, the homeowner has no say in this decision because the remediation company owns the homeowner’s rights under the policy of insurance. There may also be language in the Assignment of Benefits which requires the homeowner to pay for any invoices that the insurance company fails to pay.

These examples of pitfalls with some remediation companies are meant to educate consumers. In the wake of Tropical Storm Eta, it is important that homeowners are not taken advantage of by individuals or companies looking to profit from others misfortunes. If you have any questions or concerns about what to do for your insurance claim(s) following Tropical Storm Eta, please don’t hesitate to reach out to St Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon Douglas for a free, no obligation consultation. St Petersburg Property Damage Attorney Jonathon Douglas helps homeowners and business owners hold their insurance companies accountable when they fail to pay for claims or underpay insurance claims. Don’t let the insurance company and its representatives push you around. You have paid your insurance premiums and all too often, the insurance companies try to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners. Don’t become a victim of these unscrupulous insurance practices. Call or email now!