Hurricane Irma damage estimates could top $100 billion. It’s a number hard to imagine, but it quickly comes into focus when you’re part of that number and dealing with your own damage. It can be a nightmare navigating insurance claims, estimates and repairs. Here’s six questions I’m most often asked as an attorney who specializes in Florida insurance law.
What to do if Your Home is Damaged?
Call or email your insurance company or agent as soon as you can. Insurers usually have toll-free numbers and email addresses specifically for reporting claims. Remember, most insurers will deny claims if made long after damage occurs.
Write down the dates and times you contact your insurer or agent and if you speak to someone, record their name and what you talked about.
Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage, but save receipts and take photos of damage. Don’t make permanent repairs until an insurance adjuster has inspected your home and don’t get rid of damaged items until your insurer gives you the go ahead.
What will the Insurance Company Need?
Your insurance company is allowed to inspect property and request records related to your claim. They may also ask you to provide a recorded statement and/or an examination under oath.
How much damage makes a claim worthwhile?
Your insurance will have a hurricane deductible you must pay before insurance coverage kicks in – this is most likely 2 to 10 percent of your home’s insured value. It’s often worthwhile to have a professional evaluate the damage to your home as there can be structural or roof damage you can’t see.
Can a Public Adjuster Help?
A public adjuster is an insurance claims professional who represents you, the policy holder. They inspect your property and estimate how much it will take to fix hurricane damage. They then negotiate a resolution of the claim with the insurance company.
How do Public Adjusters Get Paid?
If the loss occurs during a declared emergency, such as with Hurricane Irma, the Public Adjuster is limited to 10% of your claim’s value.
Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability research has found on average higher amounts are paid when a public adjuster is involved.
What can I do if my Claim is Denied?
Hire an established attorney who specializes in Florida insurance law so they can evaluate the claim and determine if they can file a lawsuit to reverse the decision or obtain additional money for repairs. If your attorney files a lawsuit against your insurer and prevails, your insurance company will be required to pay reasonable attorney’s fees. If you are concerned about unethical or illegal treatment, you can report your insurance company to the Division of Consumer Services
Whoever you are dealing with as you consider a claim, whether its insurers, adjusters, lawyers or others, be careful of false information, scams, and disreputable businesses. Read everything carefully and if necessary get legal advice. Don’t be rushed to sign anything and make sure those you are speaking with really represent those involved and have a track record of ethical business practices.
If you have any questions or need any help with an insurance claim or related issue, call Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Lawyers, Leader & Leader, P.A. at 954-523-2020 now! Find insurance claims lawyers.