The aftermath of a hurricane can be a stressful time for you and your family. If you are like some homeowners in Florida, even months after a storm strikes, you might find yourself still negotiating with insurance adjusters, trying to get the settlement you believe you may deserve under the law. Delays like this can cause immense financial stress for you and your family. For example, while waiting for a settlement to come through, some families have to shoulder the cost of repairs themselves or may find themselves waiting to make repairs until their claim gets settled. How can you fight to get the settlement that you are entitled to receive under your policy? Here are some tips that may be able to help you as you navigate the insurance claim process:
- Gather documentation to support your claim. The value of rebuilding your house, repairing a damaged room, or fixing a damaged deck, for example, will depend on the quality of the materials you used, the cost of labor to repair the damage, and the intricacy of the original craftsmanship of your home. You are entitled to repair your home to its pre-disaster state, as long as these repairs don’t exceed policy limits. The cost to repair a home that has high value cabinetry and intricate craftsmanship might be far higher than the cost to repair a room with more humble interior improvements. How can you document what you’re trying to replace? Having photographs of what a deck, roof, or room looked like before the storm struck can be helpful. If you have documentation of what you paid to make improvements or documentation of the costs of materials in your home, this can also be useful. Invoices from contractors when you made improvements can also prove helpful.
- Get estimates from reputable contractors. A contractor can estimate how much money it might cost to repair and replace items that were damaged in your home. For example, if a roof needs to be replaced, the cost of replacing the roof will depend on the cost of materials and the cost of labor. Some materials might require more labor and some materials are more expensive than others. You are entitled to repair your home to its pre-damaged state. Once you get an estimate from reputable contractors, you can then submit this information to your insurance adjuster. Your goal is to get your insurance company to agree to pay you a settlement that is as close as possible to the estimates contractors provide. If the contractor’s estimate is much higher than the amount of money offered by your insurance company, you may need to figure out why. Sometimes, the cost of repairs can go up after a storm when demand for labor and materials is higher. Sometimes adjusters may fail to take into account all aspects of what it might cost to repair damage. When adjusters use computer programs to estimate the value of a claim, these programs may not take into account the actual costs of real-life repairs. For example, when putting down flooring, there may sometimes be wasted materials as materials may need to be cut to fit or be custom-made. Not all insurance adjusters may take these variations into account.
- What to do if insurance adjusters won’t offer you the settlement you believe you deserve. There might be a range of reasons why you might not be offered the settlement you believe you deserve. Sometimes the discrepancy might have to do with errors the adjuster might have made in calculating the cost of repairs or materials, or with discrepancies between computer models and the actual cost of repairs. If you are having difficulty with your hurricane damage insurance claim, consider speaking to Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC, a hurricane insurance claim attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Our lawyers can review your policy, review estimates or repairs contractors might have made, and take steps to help you settle your claim. In the aftermath of hurricane Michael, for example, many homeowners have continued to wait for their claims to be settled. Areas were completely devastated, and months later, some homeowners and business owners continue to wait for repairs to be made. Some of this has to do with the extent of damage the storm left in its wake, while some of the delays have to do with disputes between homeowners, business owners, and hurricane insurance adjusters.
While it is possible to reach a settlement for your hurricane damage claim without the assistance of a hurricane insurance claim lawyer, in some cases, having assistance is useful. If you cannot agree about the settlement you might deserve, have questions about what is and isn’t covered by your policy, need assistance with reaching a negotiation about estimates for scope of work and settlement offers, or have other concerns, consider speaking to Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC, hurricane insurance claims lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. USAttorneys.com can connect you with an attorney at our firm today.