FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. If you have been in affected by Hurricane Florence or if you have suffered home damage due to a recent weather event, it is important to make a claim with your homeowner’s insurance as soon as possible. According to AJC, in the aftermath of a storm, hundreds or even thousands of other people might be filing claims with insurance companies. To get your claim handled as soon as possible, it is important to file your claim as soon as you can.
Hurricanes can damage your roof, walls and windows. In some cases, you may need to make repairs to these structures to prevent further damage to your home. Homeowner’s insurance may not cover damage to your home that occurs after the initial storm event if you do not take steps to secure your home or may deny coverage completely due to your failure to “mitigate” your damage. You also may not want to make repairs until the insurance company has had an opportunity to inspect and before you speak to an attorney as you may need your own professionals (such as an engineer) to inspect it prior to repair to help support a disputed claim with the insurance company. Accordingly, it is often advisable to properly tarp the roof to prevent further water intrusion but make sure it is properly secured and NOT by nailing it into the roof which can create more damage than the storm did. You may also need to find a way to temporarily seal the broken or damages windows or other holes or openings to prevent further damage. If you do make repairs, make sure to keep all receipts so that you can make a claim later. It is advisable to save any old parts or at a minimum, photograph everything if your insurance carrier has not yet inspected.
When contacting your insurer, be sure to get a claim number and get the name of the adjuster or your primary point of contact. It is wise to ask for an e-mail and/or fax where you can send communications or documents.
Hopefully, you recorded and listed any valuables in your home before the storm hit. Your insurance company may send you a form known as a “proof of loss” form. They may also ask for an inventory list. In the inventory they may ask you to list all items destroyed or damaged in the storm. If you can, you may want to take photos of any damage your home has sustained. This can also serve as proof. AJC also recommends that you keep any damaged items until an adjuster says it is okay to discard them. As a general rule, don’t throw out any evidence until your claim has been settled.
During the repair process, you may need to stay in a hotel or temporary housing. If this describes your situation, you will want to keep receipts of expenses including but not limited to additional gas/mileage to and from work and/or school during your temporary relocation, increased food or laundry costs and the cost of housing (rental, hotel, etc.).
Finally, take some time to review your policy. Different states have different rules about what must be covered. For example, in North and South Carolina, insurers are not required to cover wind coverage. You may have had to purchase this coverage separately. Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flood damage and you’ll also need to purchase this separately. ABC News reports that as new flooding events occur, homeowners may realize that they lived in a flood zone and may not have known it. Many flood zone maps are outdated. It is anticipated that many of the homes flooded by Florence may not be covered by flood insurance and homeowners may not have known that they were at risk. Others may simply not have coverage. ABC News reports that as many as 65% of properties in flood zones may not have been insured. FEMA also manages flood insurance in many areas, but it is widely reported that there are many areas across the country where flood insurance might not be mandatory, but may be necessary.
If you are beginning the claims process and have any questions, you may want to speak to a qualified homeowner’s insurance claims lawyer, like the law firm of Leader & Leader, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Our attorneys may be able to help you if you encounter problems with your homeowner’s insurance claims. Contact Leader & Leader, P.A. today to learn more.
Leader & Leader, P.A.
633 South Andrews Ave.
Fort Lauderdale, FL33301