Florida residents know hurricane season (the period from June 1 through November 30) all too well. They are well aware that the state leads the country in the number of hurricane strikes, as the damage that hurricanes have caused in Florida over the years has been extensive. Until Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was the most expensive natural disaster in US history with damages in Florida and coastal states totaling about $40 billion over the span of just 12 days. Authorities blamed Hurricane Andrew for 54 deaths.
2004’s Hurricane Frances moved through much of Florida, causing heavy rains and flooding. It resulted in eight deaths and nearly $9 billion in damages, most of which occurred in Florida. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma caused five deaths and about $17 billion worth of damages in southern Florida. If you have been involved in a hurricane and are concerned about dealing with your insurance companies, an Orlando personal injury attorney can help you obtain payments that are rightfully yours.
Insurance Payments after a Hurricane
The following are several of the more important steps that home and business owners can take if a hurricane and its aftermath damage their property.
- Document damage done to your property. Make sure you do so carefully. Use flashlights instead of matches or candles, which might ignite a gas leak. Photograph damages and flooding. Throw out damaged property that presents a health hazard but document it to ensure that your insurance will reimburse you for it. Likewise, keep track of all items you have to purchase as a result of the hurricane.
- Deal with your insurance agent as soon as possible. Call them, send letters, or stop by in person and always be sure to document your contacts and attempted contacts with them. For large items, like houses or a business, you will likely need to provide some documentation to prove that you were in fact the owner of the property.
- Know your insurance policies inside and out. Hurricane coverage, for instance, usually just covers wind damage. For coverage relating to subsequent storms or flooding, you need to have flood insurance as well. Mold coverage is something else that is usually not included in your homeowner’s insurance. There are also items your insurance company may neglect to tell that your policy covers things like reimbursement for staying at a hotel or removing debris from your property.
- Do not let insurance companies drag their feet. For example, many insurance companies involved in 2008’s Hurricane Ike in Texas have yet to settle claims with homeowners, even though it is going on two years after the hurricane. Insurance companies may try to avoid payments by blaming damage on winds instead of floods or vice versa to avoid the terms of the policy. Bad faith insurance claims and breach of contract lawsuits are legal options to pursue insurance companies who refuse to cooperate.
Unfortunately, in the aftermath of a disaster, some insurance companies will make life even more difficult on you. If you are facing insurance disputes relating to hurricane damage, contact an Orlando personal injury lawyer at Wooten Kimbrough, P.A. to learn what you can do.