While Florida is known for its sunny weather and beautiful beaches, it is also known for its season of destructive tropical storms and hurricanes. With that in mind, most Florida homeowners purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure that their home and property are protected if a hurricane does strike.
If your property is damaged during a hurricane, no matter how extensively, you count on your insurance company to pay your claim on time and in full. Unfortunately, this is often not what happens. What can you do if the insurance company denies your Florida hurricane damage claim?
Florida Hurricane Damage
Floridians accept the risks associated with hurricane season as the tradeoff for enjoying warm sunny weather most of the year. Nevertheless, hurricane season often includes serious threats to property owners, with a typical Atlantic hurricane year bringing 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes through the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Moreover, experts warn that both the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes are increasing. The damage caused to your home or property by a hurricane may include things such as:
- Roof damage
- Water damage
- Broken glass damage
- Structural damage
- Cosmetic damage
- Downed trees
- Landscape damage
Filing a Florida Hurricane Damage Claim
If you evacuated because of an impending hurricane, it could be days – even weeks – before you are able to assess the damage to your property. Even if you remained home, a full assessment of the damage caused by a hurricane may not be possible until water and electricity are restored.
When you can safely gauge the damage to your property from a hurricane, you will need to initiate a claim with your homeowner’s insurance company as soon as possible thereafter. Unfortunately, this can be a frustratingly complicated process.
What Happens After I File a Hurricane Damage Claim?
The destruction caused by a hurricane is frequently excess enough to warrant sending out a claims adjuster to evaluate the damage. This will usually happen within a day or two after filing a claim. Not long thereafter, one of the following may occur:
- Your claim is paid in full. This is obviously the preferred outcome, but it is most often not the case.
- You are offered less than you feel your claim is worth. Insurance companies are renowned for offering an insured property owner less than the amount needed to repair or replace damaged property.
- The claim is delayed. Whether it is because the internal claims process is poorly structured or because the insurance company is trying to avoid paying claims, unreasonable delays are common. These delays can leave you without crucial resources during a time of critical need and make you more likely to accept a low payment offer.
- The claim is denied. Your homeowner’s insurance company could outright deny your claim in its entirety.
Why Would My Florida Hurricane Damage Claim Be Denied?
What many Florida homeowners do not realize is that hurricane damage is often treated differently under your homeowner’s policy than other losses. You may, for instance, have a separate deductible for hurricane damage, which limits the amount your insurance company will pay you to replace or repair your damaged property.
Most often, property owners are required to have separate coverage for hurricane damage. If you do not have this coverage, your claim will generally be denied. Even when you do have separate hurricane insurance, however, your claim can still be denied for a variety of reasons. For example, your insurance company may claim that:
- You did not submit all of the documentation your insurance company requested.
- The damage occurred because you did not adequately maintain your property.
- The damage was not caused by the hurricane.
- The type of damage that occurred (e.g., water damage from flooding) is not covered by your policy.
Do I Need a Florida Hurricane Damage Claim Attorney?
If you recently filed a hurricane damage claim with your insurance company and that claim was denied, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced hurricane damage claim dispute attorney. An attorney can evaluate your insurance policy in light of the damages you suffered in the hurricane and negotiate on your behalf with your insurance carrier.
In most cases, a satisfactory out-of-court settlement can be reached. However, if a mutually agreeable settlement is not forthcoming, your attorney will litigate your claim in court to ensure that you are reimbursed for the full value of the damages your property suffered.
Will I Need to File a Florida Insurance Claim Lawsuit?
Most hurricane damage claims are resolved without ever needing to step foot inside a courtroom. If pursuing a lawsuit is necessary to protect your interests, however, your hurricane damage claim attorney will do so. In that case, your attorney will fight for you and your rights both inside and outside of the courtroom.
How Much Will a Florida Hurricane Damage Claims Attorney Cost?
If your hurricane damage insurance claim was denied, you should not let financial concerns prevent you from pursuing your rights. A Florida hurricane damage claims attorney will not charge you anything upfront and will only receive a fee if a satisfactory settlement is reached or if you win an award at trial.
Where Can I Get Help with My Florida Hurricane Damage Claim?
If you suffered hurricane damage and your insurance company has denied your claim, call experienced Florida insurance dispute attorneys at 407-500-1000 or submit our online form today. One of our experienced Florida hurricane damage claim attorneys will explain your rights to you and discuss your legal options at no cost.