Claims for Hurricane Damage, Your Insurance, and the Law

Claims from Hurricane Irma’s devastation are rushing into insurance companies and piling up as Floridians return to their property to salvage their homes and rebuild their interrupted lives.  Before we discuss the issues of claims and personal property losses, we would be remiss if we did not express our sadness at the loss of human life in this horrific storm.

Before Claims, A Moment of Reverence

We know nothing can ever replace the lives lost in this horrific storm.  We can not even imagine the pain of some Floridians who have lost parents, children and friends.   So in the midst of joyful relief that we do not have to mourn hundreds, we pause to honor the over twenty precious lives lost to Irma, by the last count.

Claims and Damage, asside, human life can not be restored.

Before claims and clean-up, we pause to remember those whose lives were lost to Hurricane Irma. 

To the surviving friends and family of those who passed away because of the hurricane, Metts Legal offers condolences:

“We wish you peace for comfort,

Courage for the days ahead,

And loving memories to hold in your heart.”

Waking Up from Irma’s Nightmare to an Insurance Claims Nightmare

Unlike some attorneys, we do not have to make all insurance companies look like bad guys in this storm-ravaged situation.  We know some insurance companies will settle your claim quickly and fairly.

However, we also know that some insurance companies are not heroes for their policy-owners.  On the one hand, they might simply be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of claims.  On the other hand, they could be attempting to save their expenses at your expense.

As Floridians begin to revive, restore and rebuild their property and homes after Irma’s mayhem, Metts Legal has a few warnings.  You might discover that some insurance companies engage in behavior—or perhaps we should call it black hat misbehavior—regarding your claims.

Claims and Black Hat Practices of Some Insurance Companies

  • They might put pressure on you to settle for illogically low amounts.
  • Sometimes adjusters might make you feel pressured to take a speedy settlement for your claim.

    Claims of property damage can be denied or mitigated by insurance companies.

    Claims must be properly filed.  Know what your coverage includes. 

  • Likewise, you might find that your claim will be delayed for an unreasonable amount of time.
  • Sometimes an insurance company simply and inexplicably denies a fair claim.

If your insurance company behaves in such a manner, we encourage you to take recourse in the law. Metts Legal is here to help you obtain fair, timely and legal settlements with insurance companies. If they dispute your claim, you will need representation.  We have experience in these matters, and we can take your case to court if necessary.  Because such companies have powerful legal teams, you will need a champion who knows the details of the law. We have the experience and expertise to be your champion.

A Brief Note to the Uninsured

Perhaps you did not quite understand insurance, and Hurricane Irma damaged your home. Now you want to be better covered before the next hurricane hits, so check out the online resource provided for consumers by Florida’s Chief Financial Provider.  

Likewise, you will discover helpful consumer information about Florida insurance at this page of the same online site.Whether you were insured or not, if you need some help understanding clean-up and safely clearing debris, then you need the factsheets at this FEMA online resource—for everything from mold reduction to public assistance to salvage.

Claims Must Be Properly Filed–What’s in your Hurricane Insurance Policy?

At Mett’s Legal, our hearts go out to all of you who suffered loss and damage in hurricane Irma.  As you look over your insurance papers and policies, we must remind you that legislative changes enacted in 2000, restricted regular home owner’s insurance coverage.

This caused many Floridians to take out separate Hurricane policies beyond homeowners insurance.

These include specialized deductibles.  Many of you know this, and many of you realize that typical, basic homeowner’s policies simply won’t cover losses after a hurricane.

Claims must be filed in a timely and proper manner.

Claims can not be answered if you do not file them correctly.

Know your Rights and Know What You Owe

In checking over your Florida hurricane policy, you will probably discover that you have a deductible that matches 2% of the monetary value of your home.

Some Floridians actually volunteer to pay a higher deductible of 5% of the value of the home to save other costs.

Doing Deductible Hurricane Insurance Math:

So, for example, if you know your home is basically a $100,000 house, your standard 2% deductible is $2,000.

Likewise, although a higher deductible saved you money on your premiums, you have to honor your legal obligation to pay the higher out-of-pocket expense because you now have hurricane damage.

Know Your Rights for Claims If You Have a Basic Hurricane Policy

Usually, your hurricane insurance policy will cover these types of losses:

  1. Wind damage caused to your home and attached structures, and
  2. Rain damage that happens when rain enters your wind-damaged area,
  3. Emergency repairs you enact to prevent further damage,
  4. Debris removal;
  5. And actual cash value or replacement value of the damaged property, depending on the policy.

Do You Have a Flood Insurance Policy?

We hope you realize that flood insurance is a separate entity from their regular homeowner’s policy insurance.

If you have a policy for separately sold flood insurance policy covers your claims for quite a few kinds of water:  waves; tidal action; overflowing rivers, creeks or lakes, and even groundwater runoff.   If you have specific flood insurance, your claims can include:

  • Damaged or destroyed buildings,
  • Compensation in cash value and
  • Removal of hurricane debris.

Suppose your policies include the above, and you file your claims in a timely and proper manner and pay your deductible.  Then, your company only gives you unreasonable or very low offers for your claims of damages.  If you have filed your claims in a timely way, and the company has not offered you a fair settlement, then we advise you to call legal help like Metts Legal immediately. We are in your corner and at your side.

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