When the last squall quieted and the final advisory ceased, Hurricane Irma left a mess in her wake – along with thousands of Floridians wondering who is liable for the cleanup. The storm is past; the damage is done. The next steps a homeowner takes can mean the difference between a speedy recovery and a painful learning experience. Find answers to common post-storm questions below.
What are my requirements for filing claims?
Insurance companies are going to be paying out some large sums to the Sunshine State in the weeks and months to come. Make sure you know the exact process necessary to file that claim. Take the next few days to become an expert on your policy, if you haven’t already. And follow the claim filing instructions to the letter.
What am I specifically entitled to?
Head back to that homeowners policy. What are your coverage limits? What is specifically covered? If the dreaded storm surge trickled its way into your home and ruined the carpet and furniture, it makes a huge difference to know whether you have insured your home’s contents or not. Some people make the mistake of thinking that their homeowners insurance alone will cover such losses. Generally, it won’t. Regardless of whether you’re in a flood zone or not, hurricanes Harvey and Irma should cause you to re-evaluate your need for flood insurance.
How do I prove my property has been damaged?
Pictures and video can make a huge difference. Did you capture the state of your property on film before the storm hit? That still shot of your home before the oak tree fell and crushed the roof is vital to your case. You need to prove that the storm is the reason for the damage. Submit this photographic evidence in the proper format as requested by the insurance company along with your claim.
Will my insurance policy cover any necessary repairs?
–That depends. Did your contractor ask that you sign an Assignment of Benefits? Don’t do it. Your insurance policy may cover certain contractors and exclude others. If you choose one who is not pre-approved, you could be liable for the entire cost of repairs or worse. Keep your calm after the storm and read every document in detail. If the document is simply labeled “Work Authorization,” it may be fine. However, if anywhere in the language you see the phrase “Assignment of Benefits,” say ‘no.’
How will I know when to litigate?
Let’s say you’re the unfortunate homeowner with the crushed roof, and the insurance company comes back with restitution that doesn’t seem fair. Call the Coleman Law Group. Our experienced attorneys will fight for the reason you purchased insurance in the first place – to protect your home.
There’s no time like immediately after a major storm like Irma to re-evaluate preparations. Hopefully Florida won’t face another monster hurricane anytime soon. If it does, you’ll be ready – with even better disaster plans for before and after the storm.
Please contact the compassionate attorneys at the Coleman Law Group, with any other questions you may have.