Hurricane Damage Claims
The aftermath of a major storm is traumatic for the survivors. After the storm, filing a hurricane claim can bring complicated issues and add another layer of emotional trauma to your life. Don’t let the insurance company decide how to best put your life back in order after a major storm event. Allow the Ross Legal Group to step in and advocate for your rights in moving forward with your repairs. There is money that you are owed that the insurance company does not want you to know about. You know how much damage you have to your house. You need to fight in order to get it. We can help.
Constructive Total Loss
When a hurricane causes more damage to more than 50% of the value of a home, code compliance issues can render a home unrepairable. A constructive total loss is a specifically defined total loss that relates to code and ordinances rendering a property unrepairable based on the inability to repair the damages to the property, which in turn creates a presumptive or constructive total loss. The codes and ordinances that are applied differ from loss to loss, and whether there is coverage for the loss will be discussed. Elements of the policy will be broken down to identify coverage and where the coverage would be found.
When is a building considered a total loss?
Damages exceeding the value of the property may also render a property to be a total loss. When the building ceases to operate as designed, then it could be a total loss.
When does application of ordinance and law render a structure a total loss?
Florida’s Valued Policy Law states that policy limits are owed in the event of a total loss or a constructive total loss. Damages exceeding 50% of the value of the property will trigger code upgrades or prohibit the building from being repaired.
Hurricane? What You Should Do Next…
REPORT YOUR CLAIM
Report your claim to your insurance carrier ASAP! If you don’t know who your carrier is or how to reach them, reach out to your insurance agent who sold you the policy. Call the hotline for reporting your claim directly to the company. Reporting your claim only to you agent will not be the fastest way to report.
Hurricane Deductibles are listed on the declarations page either as a stated amount or a percentage of Coverage A Dwelling. If Coverage A is $100,000, your deductible will be either 2%, 5% or 10% of that number ($2,000, $5,000, etc.). You will likely not have to pay out of pocket for your deductible to the carrier. If you are asked to pay any amount to the carrier, contact a professional to explain this to you. Deductibles will usually reduce the amount the carrier owes you.
STOP ADDITIONAL DAMAGES
Try your best to stop additional damages from occurring. If your roof or walls have holes in them, try and tarp them. You have a duty to mitigate your damages.
WORKING WITH YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY
Allow the field adjuster to inspect the property as many times as they need to. Your policy requires this access. If it gets overly burdensome, call an insurance claims professional (first party property insurance attorney or licensed public adjuster).
PHOTO & VIDEO DOCUMENTATION
Don’t rely on the insurance company to fully document your damages. Take your own photos and make inventory lists of items damaged. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Photographs will show water damage before mold sets in. This is important on your claim. Document the damages yourself!
DOCUMENTING YOUR CASE
Start listing all contents that you are throwing away, or that were damaged . It is always best to not throw anything away until the insurance company has inspected the items. However, if you cannot wait, list the item, the year you bought it and what you believe it would cost to replace. Take photos of the items before you throw them away. Save any manuals for large electronics or appliances to prove you owned them and the year, make and model.
ADDITIONAL LIVING EXPENSES
Most Homeowner Policies have Additional Living Expenses to provide for a new place to live while you rebuild your lives. This can be tens of thousands of dollars that are at your disposal. It is listed under “Coverage D” on your policy’s declarations page. If you are in need of housing, submit your lease to your insurance carrier and request reimbursement. This is also true for “fair rental value” if your tenants are forced to move out. Keep all receipts for things you have to buy because you have nowhere to live, or cook your meals, such as restaurant receipts.
Insurance Advances are not a final resolution of your claim. If your carrier offers you an “advance” of $5,000 or $10,000, this is usually only a start of the claim process.
DON’T SIGN ANYTHING WITHOUT READING
Please read everything you sign carefully. If you are unsure, please contact a claims professional or attorney specializing in first party property insurance claims. Your claim payments should not come with a requirement to sign a “Release”.
MITIGATION COMPANIES & TOTAL LOSS
Beware of mitigation companies offering to help. A lot of them are good people offering wonderful service and will bill the insurance carrier directly. However, if your home is a total loss, the funds will be wasted and will just reduce the amount you are owed under your Coverage A Dwelling amount.
ROSS LEGAL GROUP
1800 Second Street Suite 765 – Sarasota, FL – 34236