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1 11, 2022

What to Do if Your Hurricane Ian Claim Is Undervalued or Denied

By |2022-11-01T15:47:58-04:00November 1st, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , |

Florida is seeing a vast number of undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian insurance claims. That’s because Hurricane Ian has caused billions of dollars worth of property damage, and that means insurance companies need to pay up!

Sadly, it’s people like you who they’re playing hard with. You’re one of the thousands of people who have had an undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian claim. Sadly, they don’t care about you. They’re not calling up victims and offering money. They’re hiding and playing hardball.

Here’s what to do:

How to Fight Back Your Undervalued or Denied Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim

90% of people won’t contest their undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian claim. But you can and should fight back! You’re their customer and it’s your home that’s suffered.

Don’t fall into the trap that there’s no room to negotiate or that you’ll lose the lowball offer they’ve sent you. You always have the right to negotiate, argue and fight back.

Call a Property Damage Lawyer

Property damage lawyers eat insurance companies for breakfast. When the advisor you’re talking to realizes there’s an attorney involved, they sit up and take notice.

We’ve worked on the opposite side of the table, so know what tricks they use. Now, it’s our job to help people like you.

We’ve got the experience and legal expertise to sift through complicated insurance policy documents and say “You’re wrong” to the insurers.

We do more than that too. From hiring independent adjusters to collecting evidence and ensuring your accommodation is paid for, we’ll fight to ensure you get the maximum possible settlement.

Prove Where The Water Came From

Is your house flooded? Insurance companies are going to ask you where that water came from. And then, they’ll probably say your “flood damage coverage does cover that”.

Fight back! Competing insurance coverage can help you out. For example, what about your wind coverage? That water may have come from the wind damage.

So you need to prove it by showing damage above the water line, such as in your soffits, windows and roof.

Wind. Driven. Rain. These three words can be used to tell your insurer that the damage wasn’t your fault, it was the relentless hurricane that blew a hole in your roof and then let the driving rain in.

Prove the Roof Damage

They’ll also probably say that the roof is damaged because it’s old. Which also means that you’ll lose value due to depreciation.

Most of the time, this is nonsense. It’s not because your roof is old. It’s because Hurricane Ian tore it apart. So how can you prove it?

Independent Adjusters

To prove the true value of your property damage after an undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian claim, you should work with an independent adjuster.

As property damage lawyers at a long-standing and highly-rated Florida law firm, we have the resources to provide you with an independent second valuation after a poor job from an insurer.

Insurance adjusters working for the insurance company know what they’re doing. They’re not really there to help you, no matter how nice they seem. They’re there to reject your property damage claim and make the insurance company happy.

This is also not the time to trust the people walking around the block handing out flyers. Call a professional who knows what they’re doing. We welcome you to receive a free consultation today.

Do Not Sign a Release

Red flag! Your insurance company may ask you to sign a release. Please as a property damage attorney to review the proposed release first.

Although the release may seem to cover the current damage, it doesn’t mean the damage is over. Hurricane damage tends to worsen over time, due to weakened foundations, structural damage and mold.

Keep Evidence of the Damage

Ensure you’ve still got photos saved of the Hurricane Ian property damage. Don’t accidentally delete them from your phone’s photos, only for them to be permanently deleted from your phone’s trash a few days later.

These photos and records are crucial to proving the true value of what you’ve lost and building a link from the hurricane to the damage.

You should also continue to record evidence. For example, if that hole in the roof still hasn’t been fixed by your insurance company and it’s starting to cause rain to come through – then take videos and photos to prove it.

  • Keep receipts.
  • Keep photos and videos.
  • List what you’ve lost.

Read Related: Type of Damage to Look for After Hurricane Ian

Keep a Record of All Conversations

Every call, email and letter you have with your insurance company should be noted or stored. Ask for the name of your insurance representative and make note of the time and date of the communication.

If they make any promises or offers, write this down. Don’t let them twist their words.

Be Wary of Manipulation and Bullying

Insurance representatives have a nasty talent for manipulating homeowners into admitting fault, accepting lowball offers and being pressured into simply giving up.

Don’t give in. We know how unpleasant that can feel. You may feel like you’re to blame. But you’re not. Or at worst, let’s see them prove it.

Our property damage lawyers can communicate with your insurance carrier on your behalf, so you can relax and focus on recovering from the natural disaster with your family.

The following are key warning signs that your Hurricane Ian claim denial or valuation was unfair:

  • Delaying tactics
  • Manipulation and/or bullying
  • Incorrect policy coverage claims
  • Slow responses or no responses
  • You’re blamed for the damage
  • You’re told you don’t have the right to speak to a lawyer.

Hurricane Ian Property Damage Stats:

Contact a Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim Lawyer Today

Free Consultations!

If you’ve had an undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian insurance claim, 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 navigate hurricane insurance disputes.

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

6 10, 2022

Type of Damage to Look for After Hurricane Ian

By |2022-10-06T13:23:03-04:00October 6th, 2022|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , |

Hurricane Ian’s devastating destruction path is expected to total over $40 billion in property damage claims.

While a lot of this damage will be glaringly obvious, there will be other types of damage that can be easily overlooked. We advise you to inspect your home for the following types of damage to ensure you can make a thorough property damage claim – and not be forced to pay out of pocket later!

Read Related: Hurricane Ian Property Damage Claim Tips and Tricks

Unexpected Property Damage to Look for After Hurricane Ian

When you return to your property, be sure to look for signs of the following damage:

Mold Caused by Flooding

With Hurricane Ian’s extensive flooding, your home may suffer from flood damage and high humidity. Even if flood water has since left, mold damage may remain.

Look for signs of mold growth behind appliances, furniture and in hidden areas. It can grow very fast and pose a risk to your health. If you don’t identify it early, your insurer may claim you didn’t mitigate it.

Mold caused by Hurricane Ian flood water should be covered under a ‘flood insurance claim’.

However, if there is water that entered through a roof, windows or doors, then this may be an issue to be addressed by your Homeowners insurance policy.

Read Related: Should Your Mold Insurance Claim Actually Be a Water Damage Claim?

Damaged Carpeting

Rain leaks or flooding are likely to damage carpeting in your home. If it looks damaged, your insurance company should cover the carpet removal and replacement costs.

However, your insurance carrier may state that they’ll only cover the damaged part of the carpet – but of course, you’ll need to remove the whole thing. In that case, you’ll need to fight hard to avoid being underpaid. That’s where a property damage lawyer can help.

Damaged Roof Tiles and Shingles

Hurricane Ian roof damage can look very obvious. But for some homeowners, it may be easy to overlook.

Shingles and tiles are common victims of strong winds and may need replacing.

If you have missing or damaged shingles or tiles, it could lead to further damage in the future from strong winds or rain – leading to flooding and structural damage.

Take a look from ground level for signs of damage, and take photos as necessary. Your insurance company should provide an assessment of your roof, but it can also be wise to get an independent roof inspection to reveal the true cost of damage.

Roof Gutters

Roof Gutters are susceptible to strong winds and may have been pulled from its joints. Look for signs of unbalanced or loose gutters. If you don’t fix it, it can lead to issues the next time there’s heavy rain.

Destroyed Appliances

In the wake of damage to your home from Hurricane Ian, it’s easy to overlook appliances. From washer-dryers to TVs and fridges, these appliances may be destroyed by flood waters or debris within the home.

If they’re sitting in the water, have cracks, signs of water residue or other notable damage signs, then they may need to be replaced.

Electrical Systems

Damage to your home’s electrical system is not something to try to repair yourself. It can be deadly. If your home has been hit by Hurricane Ian it is advised to get a professional in to check the state of your home’s electrical system.

Damaged Trees and Branches

Thousands of trees have been uprooted and damaged due to Hurricane Ian. If you have a tree near your property, take a look at it. If the branches are snapped, loose or weakened, then they may pose a risk to your home. Tree removal may be required. Your insurance policy may have coverage for debris clean up that could be helpful in the days, weeks and months after Ian has passed.

Windows and Doors

Take a second look at your windows and doors. They may have been dislodged from their frames or damaged from wind or flooding.

Structural Damage

Returned to your home and only noticed signs of mold, broken windows and water?

It may not end there. Your property may have suffered structural damage. It can be wise to hire an independent engineer or estimator to determine if your home has suffered structural damage.

Remember to Mitigate Your Damage!

You’re not expected to make significant repairs, but you should take measures to mitigate further damage – if safe to do so.

Boarding up broken windows, doors and other entrances can reduce the chance of further wind or rain damage. Tarping your damaged roof or taking steps to dry out your home are additional examples of mitigation. You can do this DIY or by hiring a professional. Store all receipts and proof of purchase so you can submit them as part of your Hurricane Ian property damage claim.

Do I Need a Property Damage Lawyer for a Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim?

Following Hurricane Ian, Insurance companies will be swamped by insurance claims. They’ll be doing everything they can to minimize their outgoing costs, which means undervaluing and denying claims.

They sometimes use manipulation, delaying tactics and other tricks to make you accept lowball offers.

A property damage lawyer can take care of the fight on your behalf. From paperwork to negotiations, we use our extensive experience to recover the money you are entitled to under your insurance policies.

Don’t leave it to chance. Don’t pay out of pocket. Call a property damage lawyer today.

Contact a Hurricane Ian Insurance Attorney Today

Free Consultations!

If you need to make a Hurricane Ian property damage claim in Florida, then our property damage lawyers 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 Hurricane Ian insurance claims.

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

1 09, 2022

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.a. Is Tampa Bay’s Best of the Best 4-Time Winner

By |2022-09-01T19:07:52-04:00September 1st, 2022|Categories: Fire Damage Law, Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims, Tree Damage Law, Uncategorized, Water Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. has won Tampa Bay Times’ 2022 Best of the Best: People’s Choice Award. The firm has been recognized as the Best Law Firm and the Best Title Company.

This is the fourth year in a row that the firm has won as Tampa Bay’s Best of the Best.

The firm would like to thank the community members for their support. It is only due to the loyalty of their clients and staff that these awards are possible.

About Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.

Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is the oldest law firm in St. Petersburg. Established in 1958 by founding partner Anthony S. Battaglia, it has served clients for over 60 years. Many outstanding lawyers and judges call themselves alumni of the firm.

The firm’s lawyers are known for their exceptional work ethic and skills that produce successful outcomes. Their areas of practice include:

The firm has earned its outstanding reputation by putting their clients first. They have extensive trial experience and an impressive success record for many high-profile cases involving complex legal issues.

A Legacy of Excellence

For decades, U.S. News & World Reports has recognized Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. as one of the best law firms in America. They rank as a Tier 1 law firm in their category of Metropolitain law firms.

The firm has collectively won over 425 awards and accolades. The lawyers at the firm have earned some of the most esteemed awards available to lawyers, like:

  • Florida Trend Legal Elite
  • Florida Super Lawyers 2022
  • The Best Lawyers in America
  • Best of the Bay by Creative Loafing
  • Lawyers of Distinction

The People’s Choice Law Firm

Community members choose the People’s Choice Best of the Best Award. With over 135,000 votes, the award recognizes the top businesses and organizations in the area. Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is honored to be selected by the community for this award.

For more information about the firm, visit www.stpetelawgroup.com. Or, if you have any legal questions, call (727) 381-2300.

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.

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 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.

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.

21 08, 2019

Tips to Prepare Your Home, Family, and Insurance Claim for the 2019 Hurricane Season

By |2019-08-21T10:45:55-04:00August 21st, 2019|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law|Tags: , , , , , , |

The 2019 hurricane season is upon us. It began on May 20, 2019, and runs through November 30, 2019. Just passing the halfway mark, the tropics have been fairly quiet (knocking on wood now!). However, a quite beginning should not give rise to a false sense of security. Being hurricane prepared throughout the entire season is exceptionally important. We all remember the long lead time that Irma gave the entire state of Florida, but even with this lead time, the storm was devastating and people were still unable to be fully prepared. The homeowner’s insurance claim team at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus and McQuaid, P.A. wants to provide some valuable tips to help you and your family prepare for the worst and hope for the best when it comes to the 2019 hurricane season.

Preparing your home is one area of preparation that can be done in advance of a hurricane watch or warning. One of the most obvious tasks is to be sure all of your home’s exterior openings have the appropriate protection. Whether that means hurricane rated windows, shutters or plywood, protecting all of your home’s exterior openings is crucial.

If you have hurricane rated windows, doors, and garage doors, this should suffice. However, we recommend checking the window and door ratings to be sure that they are actually rated for the velocity zone where your home is located. If you do not have hurricane rated windows and doors, be sure to have a plan in place regarding how you will protect your home’s exterior openings. Properly fabricated and fastened plywood over windows and doors can be effective if installed properly. Additionally, these plywood pieces can be pre-cut in advance and stored for easier installation. If there are any questions about how to protect your home’s openings, contact a contractor to have them help in exploring your options for hurricane proofing the exterior of your home. Alternatively, you may wish to invest in some sort of shuttering system. There are many different options on the market at varying price points. Regardless of what type of protection you choose for your home, be sure to choose something before the hurricane warning or watch.

Preparing your home for a hurricane also means preparing your home for a hurricane insurance claim. In the event of an evacuation, be sure to have all of your insurance policies with you in a safe and waterproof container. You will need the vital information on these policies to help in making your hurricane claim. Before the hurricane hits, it is advisable to take photographs or videos of the condition of your home both inside and out. This documentation will be helpful in establishing your home’s pre-loss condition. In the event of damage or loss to valuable personal property, be sure you have photos or videos of the property, proof of purchase, and the number of items. Insurance companies require this information before they will provide full value for your damaged personal property.

All insurance policies require prompt reporting of any insurance claim. After a devastating hurricane, power and cell phone reception is often down for days. Be sure to keep track of your efforts in attempting to report your insurance claim in the days and weeks after a hurricane. Insurance companies are inundated with claims after a hurricane and therefore, you must be persistent in reporting your claim and following up with the claims adjusters.

Unfortunately, many of the insurance adjusters who are dispatched to adjust hurricane losses are not full-time Florida adjusters. While it is required that adjusters are licensed in Florida to adjust hurricane losses on behalf of an insurance company, this does not equate to having experience in adjusting Florida hurricane claims. It may seem hard to believe, but we have seen Hurricane Irma claims that have actually been denied! In addition to the denied hurricane claims, the adjusters on behalf of the insurance company more often than not underestimate the total value of a hurricane loss leaving homeowners severely underpaid for their hurricane claims. Couple this underpayment with sometimes expensive deductibles can leave a homeowner, who believed they were covered for a hurricane loss, tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in the hole.

The solution for Florida homeowners if they find themselves in a situation where the insurance company has denied or underpaid a claim is to immediately seek the assistance of an experienced insurance claim attorney. If the insurance company fails to pay what you are entitled to, the attorney can file a lawsuit for breach of contract to hold the insurance company accountable for what they are contractually obligated to pay a policyholder in the event of a covered loss. The laws in Florida are helpful to homeowners in this situation; if a homeowner is a prevailing party in a lawsuit against their own homeowner’s insurance company, then the insurance company has to pay for the homeowner’s attorney’s fees and costs. This aspect of homeowner insurance claim disputes helps homeowners in their most desperate time of need by allowing law firms to represent homeowners without requiring attorney’s fees or costs to be paid upfront but instead paid by the insurance company upon the resolution of the case.

Finally, how to prepare your family? Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. has put together a 2019 Hurricane Guide which you can download here. This guide has many suggestions for how to protect your family and home in advance of a hurricane. Some of the highlights include, following recommendations for evacuation, ensuring adequate medication for extended stays away from home, having adequate water supply, and be sure to have a plan in place for the family pet!

If you or anyone you know have any questions regarding hurricane preparedness or hurricane insurance coverages, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation.

13 05, 2019

Roof Damage – Not Just From Hurricanes

By |2019-05-13T12:59:39-04:00May 13th, 2019|Categories: Hurricane Damage Law, Insurance Claims|Tags: , , , |

With the strong storms moving across our state today, it’s a good reminder that roof damage and resultant water intrusion and damages can be caused by “wind events” other than hurricanes. Typical homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage for damage caused by “wind events”. These “wind events” include hurricanes but are more commonly associated with wind from strong thunderstorms or even tornadoes. Many homeowners do not realize that damage caused by wind can be a covered loss and more importantly, can be devastating both from a damage standpoint, but also financially.

The Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, were under a tornado watch on April 19, 2019, forcing some companies to close early. According to the National Weather Service, a tornado watch means that tornados are possible in and near the watch area. A tornado watch is the National Weather Service telling citizens to be prepared and be ready for the possibility of a tornado. A tornado watch is different from a tornado warning. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by the weather radars. A tornado warning also indicates that there is an imminent danger to life and property. See https://www.weather.gov/safety/tornado-ww. Both notifications from the National Weather Service need to be taken seriously. If you have any questions about suggestions for what to do during a tornado watch or tornado warning, visit the above link for the National Weather Service’s recommendations.

While tornados are serious wind events, they are accompanied by serious thunderstorm activity and winds. High winds can destroy roofs, cause wind-driven rain to enter the home, and cause large branches to fall on houses which can cause significant damage. After a wind event, it is important to visually inspect your roof and accessible attic spaces for signs of damage or water intrusion. Most of the time, when a roof is damaged, the water intrusion is obvious because it causes leaks and staining on the ceiling. This is typically is a homeowner’s initial indicator that something is wrong with the roof.

When an insurance claim is called in for a damaged roof, many insurance companies do not fully or properly adjust the loss. For example, they will provide a recommendation to repair a roof when a repair is not legally permitted due to the roof being too damaged. Other times, insurance adjusters will neglect to adjust the damage caused by the water intrusion. This is when hiring a property damage attorney is imperative.

A property damage attorney will help fully develop the entire scope of your loss. When an insurance company underpays a roof and/or water damage claim, the key issue is the “scope” of loss. In other words, the insurance company has provided coverage, but they have not fully adjusted your loss and therefore not fully paid for your damages as required by the contract of insurance. The goal of every insurance claim is to make sure your homeowner’s insurance company pays the full amount that is due and owing under the policy. Don’t forget that there is always the ability to get a second opinion and hold the insurance company accountable for your insurance claim!

After wind events occur in a given location, some companies are allowed to directly solicit homeowners for their business related to storm damages. Businesses such as mitigation companies may offer to perform a free damage analysis to see if you have any damage from a wind event. While there is nothing wrong with hiring a mitigation company, be very aware of the documentation they ask for you to sign. Some companies ask for an assignment of benefits. Assignment of benefits are legal in Florida, but should be fully understood prior to being signed. If you have any questions regarding an assignment of benefits or any other contract related to storm repair, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation.

If you believe your insurance company has underpaid, denied, or delayed your wind and water damage claim, contact my office immediately.