Although South Florida was spared a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, many in the area likely experienced some damage to their homes and property. As recovery begins across the state, homeowners will be submitting insurance claims to cover damages from the hurricane.
Follow these tips for filing an effective hurricane damage insurance claim to help get the insurance settlement you deserve for the damage to your home.
If you need help filing your claim or are having trouble dealing with the insurance company, the West Palm Beach insurance claim attorneys of Gordon & Doner can help. We have decades of experience negotiating with insurance companies and helping our clients obtain the compensation they deserve for their claims.
5 Steps to Take After a Hurricane
Once it is safe to return to your home, you should begin gathering the information necessary to support your insurance claim.
1. Take Note of Damaged Property
Inventory your home, making note of the personal property that was damaged as well as damages to the home.
Take photos and video of the damage to support your claim. You should have also taken photos of your property during your preparations before the storm. These will be important to show the extent of the damage compared to before the storm.
If you have receipts of high-value items, include copies with your claim to accurately assign a value to the item.
2. Contact Your Insurance Company as Soon as Possible
File your claim as soon as possible. Insurers typically begin to process claims as they are received – with the massive volume of claims expected after a hurricane, you could be waiting quite a while for your claim to be processed if you wait to submit it.
Contact your insurer and follow its procedures for filing a damage claim. Inform your insurer that you have compiled a list of damages and let them know if you were forced to relocate. An adjuster will be assigned to assess your property for damages to determine the amount of your settlement.
At this time, you should also take a moment to review the details of your insurance policy to ensure you know what is an is not covered. Most flooding damage is not covered by a traditional homeowner's insurance policies, while damage from wind or fallen trees should be.
It is also important that you review the “Duties After Loss” portion of your policy. If you fail to properly follow these instructions, you may ruin your chances of recovering compensation.
3. Limit Cleaning and Repairs
While you may want to get to work restoring your property right away, do not make changes until an insurance adjuster has assessed your home.
If temporary repairs are necessary, photograph the area thoroughly before making the repair. Make temporary fixes rather than extensive repairs. You also should not dispose of any damaged materials until cleared to do so by your insurance adjuster.
This is important because if you clean up messes left by hurricane damage and make repairs, the adjuster will not see firsthand the damage caused by the storm – this could lower the insurer’s settlement offer.
4. Contact Contractors
Contact area contractors to obtain quotes to repair the damage to your home or property. Following a hurricane, contractors are in high demand – waiting to call can add months to your wait before your home can be repaired.
You should obtain estimates before your insurance adjuster assesses your home to give yourself a better idea of the costs associated with repairs. You will want to know the full cost of repairing your home before accepting any offers from the insurance company.
5. Keep Records
Keep a record of all communication with your insurer. Record when you made phone calls, what responses you received, as well as all email and mail communication.
Insurers must complete specific tasks within a designated timeframe after receiving a hurricane damage claim – know what their process is and when you should expect answers or further communication, and be diligent about following up with the insurance company.
Contact Our West Palm Beach Insurance Claim Lawyers Now
Get the compensation you deserve for hurricane damages to your home. The West Palm Beach attorneys of Gordon & Doner will work to negotiate a fair settlement from your insurer. If necessary, we are prepared to take your case to trial to secure maximized compensation.
Schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation with our legal team today. Our cases are accepted on a contingency basis, so you only pay legal fees if we are successful in securing compensation for you.