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Hurricane Lawyer In Titusville, FL
Seven hurricanes have hit Brevard County since 1950, the latest being Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Titusville was hit particularly hard by Irma's gusts, and many residents saw land and property destroyed, especially along the Indian River. Although Brevard County has some natural protection because the Gulf Stream is located about 30 miles offshore, severe winds are often reported in the area. For example, Hurricane Matthew was responsible for winds clocked moving at 107 mph in 2016.
Suppose you've experienced the devastating effects of a hurricane and are having a dispute with the insurance company. In that case, you may require a hurricane lawyer in Titusville, FL. The lawyers working at Morgan and Morgan are here to help. Let's take a look at the factors of hurricane damage and what we can do to assist you with your insurance claim.
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What Are the Hazards of Hurricanes?
Storm surge - Hurricanes can produce a destructive storm surge, which is seawater that is pushed towards the shore by the strength of the wind. The buildup of water is combined with the normal tide causing normally dry land to become flooded. A storm surge can increase the water level by more than 30 feet. The result can be property loss, the undermining of the foundations of buildings, erosion of beaches, and threats to life.
Inland flooding - Inland flooding can have deadly consequences. Over the past 30 years, it has been responsible for at least half the deaths reported in the United States from tropical cyclones. Once a hurricane makes landfall, it loses strength. Still, it continues to dump massive amounts of rain, raising the levels of streams, rivers, and lakes. Inland flooding can cause catastrophic damage to buildings because of hydrodynamic forces. Water weighs 1,700 pounds per cubic yard and, when combined with heavy winds, can cause a building to collapse. Large debris moving in the current can smash homes, trigger landslides and flood waters can contaminate groundwater, making tap water unfit to drink. Flooding can also cause interior water damage to structures and leave homes susceptible to mold growth.
High winds - Hurricanes can cause massive damage because of the sheer force of the wind. However, most structures aren't damaged by the wind itself. Instead, the damage comes from flying debris, such as uprooted trees, signs, and pieces of buildings. Flying debris can smash windows and doors, allowing the force of the wind to enter a structure causing more damage and opening the structure up to the rain. High winds can also tear off roofs, causing extensive damage to the interior of a home and its contents.
Tornadoes - Hurricanes can also produce tornadoes that add to the storm's destructive nature. It's not uncommon for a hurricane to spawn tornadoes once it makes landfall. The high wind speeds of a tornado can tear a home apart, ripping off doors and roofs, breaking windows, damaging siding, and can even upend mobile homes. A category F5 tornado can even level a well-built home.
How Soon Should I Make an Insurance Claim After Hurricane Damage?
Once you know your home or property has hurricane damage, it's best to file a claim with your insurance company right away. Most insurance companies expect a prompt report of the damage and may have language in the insurance contract that defines this expectation. It's also important to file quickly, so an insurance adjuster doesn't question whether a hurricane caused the damage or something else did. After a hurricane, there will likely be lots of insurance claims. The quicker you file a claim, the faster you can get the payment on the claim.
What Is Covered by Hurricane Insurance in Florida?
There isn't really such a thing as "hurricane insurance" in Florida. Instead, Florida law requires property insurance policies to include coverage for damage from wind storms that are declared to be hurricanes by the National Hurricane Center. Flood insurance is required by many mortgage lenders and is not typically included in most insurance policies. Most Floridians purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, which covers physical damage caused by flooding up to the policy limits or purchase flood insurance through private providers.
Essential tips for Your Titusville, FL Hurricane Insurance Claim
After a hurricane, it can be stressful, and claims can be a lot of hard work. Here are some tips to make your claim go more smoothly:
Report damage as quickly as possible - Postponing a claim can cost you, literally. Be sure to report damage as soon as you can after a hurricane.
Document your losses - You have insurance, so you can be compensated for your losses when disaster strikes. Take photographs and videos, and estimate the value of lost or damaged possessions and when you purchased them. Documentation can go a long way towards having a successful claim.
Review your policy - Knowing what's on your policy is critical. It would be best if you made sure that any temporary fixes you come up with aren't going to hurt your claim.
Save all records connected to repairs - Keep all receipts, invoices, estimates, and repairs-related documents so you can include them in your claim.
Get legal help - A hurricane lawyer in Titusville, FL, can help ensure your claim is submitted accurately to get the most compensation possible and also assist if you find yourself in a dispute with your insurance provider. If they deny or lowball your claim, Morgan and Morgan can help fight to have the denial reversed and get you fairly compensated for your losses.
Why Do Insurance Companies Deny Hurricane Damage Claims?
If you're looking for a hurricane lawyer in Titusville, FL, it's probably because your insurance company is treating you unfairly. Business and property owners have a right to expect their insurance company will pay for damages when they purchase insurance. After a hurricane, insurance adjusters may be inundated with thousands of claims. Yet, they're still under pressure to keep costs as low as possible. An influx of claims can be overwhelming, and this could lead to adjusters becoming hard-nosed about their decisions or not conducting investigations as thoroughly as they should. Some insurance providers may not act in good faith to keep costs down. However, bad faith insurance tactics are illegal. Here are the top reasons insurance companies deny claims.
Your damage was preexisting - Many times, your claim will be denied because the insurance adjuster claims the damage existed before the hurricane hit or that you didn't properly maintain the property, leading to more severe damage. All structures are subject to normal wear and tear, but an adjuster may use this as an excuse to deny a claim. Likewise, suppose your property was previously damaged, and you made a claim but didn't restore the property to its original condition, and it gets damaged again. In that case, they may not compensate you for the new damage. For these reasons, we always recommend taking pictures or videos of your property every year before hurricane season.
You didn't do enough to secure your property - While the insurance adjuster may reason that the hurricane caused damage to your property, they may use the excuse that the damage wouldn't have been as bad had you secured everything better. However, that doesn't make sense if your roof is ripped off or if flying debris crashes through a door.
Your policy doesn't cover this type of damage - Hurricanes cause property damage in many ways, from high winds to heavy downpours of rain. How your property was damaged might be a point of contention because the adjuster may say the damage was due to flooding. However, it may be that the property was flooded because the roof was torn off or the windows were broken. Hurricanes generally produce rainfall of 6 to 12 inches or more. Once a hurricane makes landfall, it slows down, which causes an intense downpour.
What Is Bad Faith Insurance?
There are legitimate reasons why an adjuster may deny a claim or pay out less than the value of the claim. However, bad faith insurance tactics are sometimes used to frustrate policy owners in the hopes they will give up or accept a lowball payment. Some insurance companies may even go so far as to defraud their policyholder by telling them something is not covered when it actually is.
Here are red flags to watch out for after filing a hurricane insurance claim:
- An unreasonable delay in processing the claim
- Lying about what your policy covers
- Misrepresenting what your policy covers
- Offering a lowball settlement
- Failing to reply to a policyholder claim promptly
- Making unreasonable demands for proof of losses
- Refusing to provide a legitimate reason for your claim denial
- Pressuring you to sign a release of supplemental claims to get a settlement
If you've been experiencing any of these bad faith tactics, contact Morgan and Morgan. You may have cause to sue your insurance company and get compensation for your damages. In some instances, juries will also add punitive damages if an insurance provider's actions were particularly nefarious.
How Can a Hurricane Lawyer in Titusville, FL, Help Me?
If your hurricane claim is denied or if you want to dispute the settlement you've been offered, you can challenge the insurance company's decision. You can bring your claim to court and ask the court to award you payment for your damages and more for an unfair denial, delays, and expenses related to the delay. Taking legal action forces the insurance company to defend its behavior. Often, the threat of a lawsuit is enough to make them reconsider their position.
To win a case against your insurance company, you need to have proof of the value of your claim and the right to be compensated. At Morgan and Morgan, we understand how important it is for you to be treated fairly and compensated according to the protections covered under your insurance policy. You have a right to be paid in a timely manner. We will fight to make sure you get the compensation you need and deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. Our fee is free unless we win.