It’s no secret that a hurricane can be devastating for those affected. Unfortunately, Florida is a hurricane-prone state. Therefore, Floridians must always be prepared to deal with the damages and losses that often follow a hurricane. Hurricane insurance usually covers the damages caused by the strong winds of a hurricane. However, this insurance doesn’t normally cover flood damage. In other words, people need a separate flood insurance policy in order to cover flood damages, as standard hurricane coverage is usually not enough.
If you are suffering after the aftermath of a hurricane or have any doubts about your insurance coverage, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Insurance policies surrounding natural disasters can be complex, and hurricane insurance often doesn’t cover damages such as flooding to your property. At The Law Place, we know how financially taxing dealing with the effects of a hurricane can be. Many people understandably assume that their insurance policy covers all damage caused by a hurricane. However, this is often not the case. Our legal team can help answer any questions and clarify any doubts you may have regarding your insurance policy and fight to ensure that you get the compensation you need to cover the financial losses sustained after a hurricane.
You can call us whenever you want at (941) 444-4444 to schedule your free consultation with a professional lawyer at our law firm.
What Is Hurricane Insurance?
In Florida, one hurricane insurance policy that covers all the damage that can be caused by a hurricane doesn’t technically exist. Instead, homeowners must purchase a combination of insurance coverages in order to be fully covered if a hurricane causes damage to their property.
The three main types of hurricane insurance that will cover a property if a hurricane occurs include homeowners insurance, flood insurance, and windstorm insurance.
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What Does My Homeowners Insurance Policy Cover?
In Florida, most property owners are required by mortgage companies to purchase homeowners insurance when buying a home. The state doesn’t technically require homeowners to have a specific hurricane insurance policy. However, some damages that usually occur after a hurricane are covered under homeowners’ insurance policies.
Wind damage caused by strong or hurricane winds is normally covered under a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. However, if your property is located in a hurricane-prone state such as Florida, windstorm damage may be excluded from your policy, and you may need to purchase separate windstorm insurance coverage.
Homeowner’s insurance can cover some water damage such as a burst pipe. However, it does not cover flood damage caused by a hurricane. Dwelling coverage is part of your homeowner’s insurance which usually covers damage caused by perils. However, dwelling coverage does not usually cover damage caused by a flood. Homeowners must purchase separate flood insurance in order to be covered for flood damage. Similarly, sewer backup isn’t normally covered under homeowners’ insurance policies, and those who want this kind of insurance coverage must purchase it separately.
Homeowners living in hurricane-prone states such as Florida may need to pay a separate hurricane deductible under their homeowner’s insurance coverage. Insurance providers must offer four options when calculating the cost of the hurricane deductible. This can either be a payment of $500 or 2%, 5%, or 10% of the total insured value of your house. For example, if the insured value of your property is $150,000 and your hurricane deductible is set at 2%, you will need to pay $3000 before receiving your insurance coverage.
Hurricane deductibles can only be applied once during one hurricane season. Therefore, if your property has sustained damage by more than one named hurricane during the same hurricane season, you won’t have to pay your hurricane deductible again when filing an insurance claim.
In Florida, a homeowner can only file a claim if the hurricane is declared by the National Weather Service. Losses apply to any damages sustained up to 72 hours after a hurricane watch or warning ends.
What Is Windstorm Insurance?
Strong winds can cause damage to a property’s windows, walls, and roof, and this damage can cost thousands of dollars to repair.
It is not a legal requirement for homeowners to have windstorm insurance in Florida, as homeowners insurance usually covers damage caused by strong winds. However, property owners living in hurricane high-risk areas may have to buy windstorm insurance as wind damage may be excluded from their homeowner’s insurance policy. Also, lenders often require homeowners to have windstorm insurance if they have a mortgage.
Areas in which hurricanes occur more frequently are known as wind pool areas and are normally located near or on the coast. Insurance companies often charge higher insurance premiums for those living in these areas.
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The National Flood Insurance Program
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is managed by FEMA and aims to help reduce the socio-economic impact of floods for Floridians. Unlike homeowners insurance, your flood insurance policy will cover damage caused by flooding after a hurricane. Flood insurance policies usually cover the contents inside your property as well as the building itself. Homeowners, condo owners, renters, and business owners are all eligible to purchase flood insurance to cover their assets in the case of a flood.
If the homeowner lives in a high-risk area prone to flooding, they may be required by the lender to purchase flood insurance. Your insurance under the NFIP only covers flooding caused by an outside source that affects more than one property. In the case that your property was damaged due to a burst pipe, you won’t be able to file a flood insurance claim.
In the case of flooding, standard flood insurance covers up to $250,000 of damage to your property. This insurance will also cover up to $100,000 of damaged or lost property. Things that aren’t covered under flood insurance include:
- Paper money.
- Important documents and certificates.
- Living expenses.
- Damage to a basement or other underground areas.
Additional Living Expenses
Hurricanes can be unpredictable and cause devastating damage. A house could be made inhabitable due to the destruction caused by a hurricane. If your property has been made inhabitable after a hurricane, you may have been forced to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on hotel bills or renting another property to live in temporarily. Under Additional Living Expenses (ALE), you may be reimbursed for expenses you incurred while your house was inhabitable.
It should be noted that ALE is not awarded if your house was made inhabitable due to flooding. In this case, your flood insurance coverage would have to cover these expenses.
What Will My Renters Insurance Cover?
Renters insurance policies usually cover personal property that was damaged or lost in certain perils, including fires, tornadoes, and hurricanes. A person covered by renters insurance can receive compensation under the actual cash value or the replacement cost of the personal property that has been lost or damaged.
Under actual cash value coverage, the claimant will receive the calculated value of the property rather than the amount of money it was purchased for. That is, the insurance company will award the replacement cost of the property minus depreciation. For example, if a 4-year-old laptop is damaged in a hurricane, your insurance company will determine how much the machine would be worth in its used condition in the current marketplace and pay the claimant this amount.
On the other hand, replacement cost coverage pays for the amount it costs to replace the property at its current worth with no deduction for depreciation. For example, if your 5-year-old television is damaged during a hurricane, your insurance company will pay you the amount that a television with similar features is currently worth so that you can replace it.
Your landlord’s insurance will cover the structure of the building. However, your personal possessions are not likely to be covered under their policy. Renters insurance covers personal property that has been damaged, so it’s highly recommended for people renting a property to purchase this personal property coverage.
What Should I Do If My Property Has Been Damaged After a Hurricane?
Property damage commonly occurs after a hurricane, so knowing how to file a successful hurricane insurance claim is crucial.
Document the Property Damage
It’s highly recommended to collect evidence of hurricane damage before filing a claim. Taking photos of your property before and after a hurricane can be used as strong evidence of hurricane damage. Once you have taken photos of the building’s interior and exterior, make sure to document damage to your possessions inside the property.
It’s important to note that flood damage can sometimes be less obvious and difficult to see. When checking your property after a hurricane that caused flooding, make sure to check and, when possible, take photos of:
- Property’s foundation.
- Wires and cables.
Prevent Further Damage
After the hurricane, it’s important to prevent further damage from occurring on the property. For example, if your roof has been damaged due to the hurricane, you can cover it with tarps in order to prevent rainwater from entering the property.
An insurance adjuster at your insurance company may argue that damage sustained to the property was not caused by the hurricane but occurred after the disaster took place. Insurance companies fight tirelessly to devalue claims in order to avoid paying claimants large settlements. Therefore, it’s important to prevent further damage to your property after a hurricane, as you may not be compensated for it.
File an Insurance Claim
Once you’ve collected evidence of the hurricane damage, you should file a claim with your insurance company. It’s important to act quickly and file the claim soon after the hurricane occurred in order to increase the likelihood of receiving a high settlement.
Under Florida Statute 627.70131, your insurance company must review and acknowledge a claim within 14 days of it being filed. The insurance company then has 90 days to pay the claimant or deny the claim. An attorney can help you file a claim and lead negotiations with your insurance company so that you get the compensation you deserve.
How to Prepare for a Hurricane
Adequately protecting your home is the best way to prevent hurricane damage from occurring. Therefore, knowing how to protect your property before a hurricane is important. Also, it’s essential that people living in hurricane-prone areas are prepared for a hurricane at all times. Before a hurricane occurs, you should:
- Lock all doors and windows – Ensuring doors and windows are firmly shut and locked can prevent rainwater and strong winds from entering the property.
- Install storm shutters – Installing storm shutters on windows helps prevent the window’s glass from being broken. If installing storm shutters is too expensive, boarding up windows with plywood can have a similar effect.
- Trim trees – Larger trees are more likely to fall in strong winds. When a tree falls near a house, the damage can be devastating. Ensuring that trees are trimmed and broken branches are cut from the trunk can help prevent damage to property.
- Place sandbags around entryways – Placing sandbags around doors can help prevent floodwater from entering the property. Properly filled sandbags divert and reduce the amount of water that can enter the property.
- Inspect the roof – Ensuring roof shingles and tiles are securely fastened to the roof can prevent them from falling during a tropical storm. Also, covering holes or cracks on the roof can prevent rainwater from entering during heavy rainfall.
- Move valuable items upstairs – When flood water enters the home, it can destroy valuable property, including televisions and other possessions. Moving these possessions upstairs can prevent them from getting destroyed.
- Take an inventory of valuable possessions – Taking photos or videos of your valuable possessions before the hurricane occurs can be used as proof of hurricane damage and makes it easier to file a successful insurance claim.
- Prepare for evacuation – Property owners are sometimes told to evacuate at short notice due to hurricanes, so being prepared to leave quickly is essential. It’s highly recommended to prepare a bag filled with essentials, including non-perishable food, bottled water, clothes, a first-aid kit, prescription medicines, cash, and a flashlight.
What Can an Attorney at The Law Place Do for Me?
If your insurance claim is denied or devalued, we highly recommend contacting our law firm as soon as possible. Our team of attorneys has ample experience in filing insurance claims and dealing with insurance companies that deny claims.
Insurance providers tend to devalue or completely dismiss claims in order to reduce their final payout to claimants. An attorney at The Law Place will lead negotiations with the insurance company and ensure you receive a fair settlement for your claim.
Our lawyers have over 75 years of combined experience dealing with hurricane insurance claims, so we know how to get the highest amount of compensation for your claim. By calling us and scheduling a free consultation, we can answer any questions you may have about your own insurance coverage and clarify any doubts about the different types of insurance coverage needed to cover hurricane damage.
Call The Law Place Today
If your property has been damaged due to a hurricane or flood, call The Law Place today. We have ample experience dealing with insurance providers, and we know how to ensure you get the compensation that you deserve.
Repairing property damage after a hurricane or a flood is normally extremely expensive. Having appropriate hurricane and flood coverage is necessary to get the highest amount of compensation possible for your claim. An attorney from our law firm can review the details of your case and determine what rights you may have depending on your insurance policies.
Our phone lines are always open, so you can call us whenever you want. Contact us at (941) 444-4444 to schedule your free consultation today.