Hurricanes leave a trail of destruction in their wake, and the property damage can be catastrophic. Most home and business owners have some form of property insurance, and depending on where they live, they may have both homeowners and flood insurance. Unfortunately, the insurance company is not always eager to pay policyowners what they’re owed after a storm.
If your property suffered damage in a hurricane or tropical storm, and your insurance company is denying or undervaluing your claim, contact an attorney right away. They can determine how much you are really owed and negotiate with the insurance company for full compensation. If the insurance company still won’t pay, a good attorney will take them to court — and you won’t pay a dime unless they recover money for you.
Here is how you can increase the chance of recovering compensation for property damage caused by a hurricane or tropical storm.
Preparing for a Hurricane
Before a storm even hits, in addition to hurricane-proofing your property, there are steps you can take to increase the chance of a successful insurance claim:
- Make sure your insurance policy hasn’t lapsed. Double-check to make sure your policy is still active, and see exactly what it covers and what your deductible is. If your insurance has lapsed, renew it right away.
- Get flood insurance. Most homeowners policies don’t cover flood damage, only wind. After a hurricane, many insurance companies claim that the damage suffered was a result of flooding, not wind. To prevent them from doing this and to strengthen your eventual claim, you should have a flood insurance policy.
- Take photographs of your property. Take both wide and close-up photos of the interior and exterior of your home or business. Store them online in case something happens to your phone. You’ll need these images as proof that the damage occurred during the storm and not before.
Taking the three actions above will put you in a much better position to recover the money you need to bounce back after a hurricane.
Recovering From a Hurricane
After the storm, if your property was damaged, there is still more work to be done to bolster your insurance claim:
- Take more photos and keep a record of all damage. Ideally you’ve already taken your “before” photos; now you need “after” photos to show exactly how much damage occurred in the hurricane. Take pictures of everything, inside and out, and write down all the damage you notice. You want full compensation for every single repair you’ll need to make, and for every item that has been lost or damaged.
- Put a tarp over your property to protect against further losses. If you don’t cover up your home or business after a hurricane, the insurance company may try to say that the damage occurred after the storm, and/or that it was your fault. Check your insurance policy for your “Duties After Loss” responsibilities to see exactly what the insurance company expects of you. You don’t want to be held accountable for any of the property damage you’ve suffered.
- File your insurance claim as soon as possible. Many insurance policies require that you file a claim within a reasonable amount of time, which might mean a week or two. Check your policy, but regardless of what it says, you want to file the claim as soon as you have documented all the damage.
If you do everything you’re supposed to do, it will be harder for the insurance company to justify denying your claim.
Why You May Need a Lawyer
Unfortunately, even if you do everything right, your insurance company may still deny, delay, or undervalue your claim. Some of their tactics in these situations include:
- Delaying the processing or payment of a valid claim
- Arguing that certain damages are not covered (even if they are)
- Demanding that you sign a written release of any supplemental claims
- Making lowball offers that don’t cover all your damages
- Trying to coerce you into accepting an unacceptable offer
If you run into difficulty with your insurance company after a hurricane or tropical storm, contact a hurricane property damage attorney. An experienced attorney can evaluate your claim and handle the insurance company while you focus on rebuilding. They will fight for full compensation for you so that you can put the pieces back together.
How to Get Started
If your property has been damaged, and your insurance company is denying or undervaluing your claim, contact Morgan & Morgan. We’ve been taking on insurance companies for more than 30 years; during that time, we’ve recovered over $9 billion for our clients. As America’s largest personal injury law firm, we are one of the few with the resources to beat them. Best of all, it costs nothing upfront to hire us, and we get paid only if you win.
Even if the insurance company told you “No,” you may have a case. Contact us today.