Florida’s Road to Recovery – What You Need to Know About Hurricane Insurance Claims 

Hurricane Ian recently caused an estimated $25 billion – $40 billion in damages across the State of Florida, much of which is not fully protected by insurance. If your property has been damaged or destroyed as the result of this ferocious storm, the difficult and uncertain work of rebuilding now begins.

What do you do first? And how do you make sure you’re receiving every dime you deserve from your insurance company? 

It’s going to be a long road ahead but you’ll want these basics to start the process.

Immediately After the Storm:

Report the Damage

Instead of jumping straight into clean up and repair mode, it’s best to contact your insurance company before doing anything else. This allows your agent to advise you on a repair plan that adheres to the terms of your policy. Gather as much information as you can about your policy, including how much time you have to file a claim. It’s going to be a busy time!  Most insurers will advise that once you file a claim, you’ll likely wait a few days or even weeks before an adjuster contacts you to schedule an inspection. The earlier your claim is in, the better, as claims are prioritized by first-filed and most severe.

Make Temporary Repairs

After contacting your insurer, you should begin making temporary repairs to secure your property. This might include boarding up broken windows, placing tarps over holes in the roof, and/or drying out wet items to prevent mold. Take photos and video of all damage both inside and outside of your home or property before any clean-up or repair efforts are made. Keep receipts for materials used and keep a record of all repairs made. It is important to know that payments for temporary repairs come out of the total settlement amount of your claim, so now is not the time to make extensive or permanent repairs. Property insurance policies typically require that you make repairs to mitigate further loss.  BUT, you will not want to start those renovations before the insurer can conduct an inspection of the property.  It is critical that you wait until after meeting with your claims adjuster to begin final repairs.

If You Need to Relocate/Evacuate

If you are unable to live in your home due to the storm damage, your insurance policy may cover reasonable additional living expenses. These expenses can include hotel rooms, gas, meals and even clothing and other necessities. Be sure to keep records and receipts from all expenses you pay out-of-pocket while you are displaced. Sometimes insurance companies will advance the money to you but regardless, you will be required to provide proof of how the money was spent.

Filing a Claim

Once you’ve notified your insurance company of your claim, the insurer will assign and send out an adjuster to inspect your property.  Generally, an adjuster will inspect your property within 2-4 weeks. In the meantime, you will need to thoroughly document your losses and get ready for their visit.  And don’t forget, make emergency repairs and mitigate any further damages, if necessary, but do not complete unnecessary repairs before the insurer’s inspection takes place!

You will want to begin making a list of damaged items, along with specific product description information and estimated value, immediately. The more detailed the information you can provide, the smoother the process is likely to go. Again, take photos and/or video of all damage and do not throw anything away until the adjuster has seen it. During their visit, the adjuster will inspect the damage, take photos and measurements, and provide instructions on submitting receipts for emergency repairs and reimbursements. They should also go over the claims process and an itemized claim estimate with you. Be sure to ask any and all questions you have, and do not be afraid to contact them to follow-up.  

Obtain written estimates from licensed contractors on repair costs. You ALWAYS want at least one (preferably two or three) independent estimates, as insurance companies make their profits by delaying, denying, and/or low-balling claims.  Ensure the bids are detailed and include information such as materials to be used and prices on a line-by-line basis. Once you find a contractor and a bid you like, your adjuster will need to approve the cost. Never pay in advance of work being performed, and never sign your insurance check over to a contractor. 

Get Help from a Legal Professional

If you need help navigating the difficult maze of delayed or denied property insurance claims after Hurricane Ian, the Law Offices of Heather D. Lee may be able to assist you.  

Often, when a property insurance claim is denied, people turn to a public adjuster for help. However, most public adjusters charge contingent-fees similar to an attorney’s fees. And when your public adjuster cannot get a fair settlement of your claim? Well, they’ll leave you looking for an attorney to file a lawsuit. Don’t waste your time and valuable funds. Go directly to the assistance you need now.

The Life & Property Insurance Law Offices of Heather D. Lee provide free consultations on all potential cases.  As a Florida native, Attorney Lee knows how devastating the aftermath of hurricanes and other major storms can be. You don’t have to go through this nightmare alone.  We are here for you, Florida. 

#floridastrong

Attorney Heather D. Lee Admitted to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

It is an honor and a privilege to announce the admission of Attorney Heather D. Lee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Attorney Lee represents insureds and beneficiaries in pursuit of wrongfully delayed and denied life insurance claims, as well as homeowners, renters and other property insurance claims, life insurance beneficiary disputes and interpleader actions.

The Law Offices of Heather D. Lee serve clients in the States of New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. Attorney Lee looks forward to representing the firm and her clients in the Eastern District of New York. She is also admitted to practice in federal court in the Northern District of Florida and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Life & Property Insurance Law Offices of Heather D. Lee Now Serving Colorado & Florida

The Life & Property Insurance Law Offices of Heather D. Lee is now serving clients throughout the States of Colorado and Florida.  If you are an insured or beneficiary whose life insurance proceeds are being withheld during a difficult time, let us handle the life insurance company so that you can focus on recovering, and on your family.

Attorney Heather D. Lee offers free case evaluations and low contingent fee arrangements on all cases.  That means you can obtain quality legal representation without worrying about how to afford an attorney.  If we are unsuccessful in collecting your delayed or denied life insurance claim, you will owe no legal fees whatsoever.  Contact Us today at (800)403-5710 or visit www.life-insurancelawyer.com for more information about our law practice.