FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. Hurricane Michael left a trail of devastation when it made landfall on the Florida Panhandle. The New York Times reports that in some neighborhoods, flooding went as high as the roof of homes. Other homes were left shattered and destroyed. If you or your family lived in the storm’s path, you may be returning to your home just now or may have just started to assess the damage to your home. Insurance companies have certain responsibilities when responding to your claims for Hurricane Michael damage. Homeowners who need to make claims can also take some important steps to protect their rights. What can you do right now, to ensure your homeowner’s insurance claim runs smoothly?
- Take Photos of the Damage. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the first step you can do to document damage to your home is to take photos before you perform any debris cleanup.
- Make Emergency Repairs. Yes, we know you aren’t a licensed contractor, but your insurance company will require you to secure certain aspects of your home after a storm. For example, if windows were shattered, you may want to either board up your windows or put up a tarp to prevent further water damage to your home. If your roof was damaged, you may need to put up a tarp to prevent leaking. Please note that we are not suggesting your rush to undertake any repairs too soon or before the carrier has had a reasonable opportunity to inspect. Rather, the obligation is to take reasonable steps to protect your home from further damage.
- Wait for the Adjuster Before Tossing Trash, parts and/or Making Repairs. If you can prevent water from entering your home and causing further damage, take steps to prevent it, but beyond basic repairs to secure your home and property, leave major repairs to the experts. Don’t throw away damaged items or make repairs until your adjuster can come and assess the damage.
- It is Important to Make a Claim as Soon as Possible. Likewise, your insurance company has a fixed time to either pay your claim or respond to your claim. The insurance company generally has 14 calendar days to acknowledge your claim and a longer period to adjust the claim; during major events such as a Hurricane, they often seek extensions. Your insurance company has a responsibility to provide you with proper claim forms, instructions on how to make a claim, and a phone number to contact the insurer about the claim.
- Find a Good Contractor. In the aftermath of a storm, traveling contractors sometimes come down to Florida to make repairs. If at all possible, use a contractor you trust, or someone with whom you have worked. Traveling contractors or people that show up and insist they can help perform needed work may prove to be a bad idea. It is wise to review their warranties and ensure that you’ll be able to get in touch with the company if you need the warranty honored. You may want to see how long the company has been around and done business in Florida.
Over the long term, you may need to provide your insurer with proof of loss statements. It is important to distinguish between your proof of loss statement and your initial claim. Your initial claim should be made as soon as possible after the storm. It lets the insurer know that your home has suffered damage. The proof of loss statement is documentation that supports the amount of money you are seeking to repair your home or replace damaged items. This could include receipts, estimates of repairs, or receipts for repairs you have already made. If you had to live in a hotel for a period of time after the storm or had to purchase new items, these figures may be included in your proof of loss, if you are covered. According to FEMA, you have 60 days to submit your proof of loss statement to your insurer, but you may be granted an extension in certain circumstances. Don’t assume you will be given an extension and make sure to receive notification of an extension in writing. Often the proof of loss is not required unless requested but be sure to know what your policy requires. Make sure that you comply with all reasonable requests of the insurance carrier in a timely manner. If you are not sure what you need to do or provide, it would be wise to contact an attorney that focus their practice on representing insureds in insurance claims sometimes known as Plaintiffs first-party insurance lawyer.
The claims process can sometimes be complicated. If your home has suffered damage after Hurricane Michael and if you have questions about how to make a claim or questions about the claims process, you may want to speak to an insurance claim lawyer near you. Leader & Leader, P.A. are insurance claims lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida who work closely with homeowners to help them get the recovery for their damages that they may deserve. If you have never navigated the insurance claims process before or have questions about the process, Leader & Leader, P.A. may be able to help. We can review your policy, help you understand what is and isn’t covered, and fight for your rights if your insurance company offers you a lower settlement than you may deserve or denies your claim. If you have questions about the Hurricane Michael insurance claims process, Leader & Leader, P.A. has answers.
Leader & Leader, P.A.
633 South Andrews Ave.
Fort Lauderdale, FL33301