My property has suffered hurricane damage. What steps do I need to take to ensure that I get the maximum amount of coverage from my insurance company?
First and foremost, do not return to your home or business until the authorities have advised that it is safe to do so. Once it is safe, make a list of items that were damaged or destroyed, and be sure to take photographs of the inside and outside of the premises, showing any damage or flooding. The more pictures you take, and the more detailed the pictures, the better. Be sure to get photographs of the high water mark if your property was flooded. If you can, make an effort to protect the property from any further damage.
Notify your insurance company of your loss immediately – by telephone, in person, or preferably in writing. If applicable, call your flood insurance agent to report your flood claim. Also, be sure to do the following throughout the claim process:
- Save all documents received from your insurance company, the adjuster, and your insurance agent
- Keep all receipts for hurricane-related expenses
- Keep a record of all communications between you and your insurance company. These records should include the date of the contact, name of the person with whom you spoke, and notes on the substance of your conversations – especially anything you are told about coverage or the causes of your loss
We advise that you hire an attorney to represent you during the claims process. This will ensure that you get a fair adjustment of your claim and that everything is properly and accurately accounted for.
Good record keeping will speed up the settlement of your claim. Compile a room-by-room inventory of missing or damaged goods, and include manufacturer’s names, dates and places of purchases, and prices. Try to locate receipts or proofs of purchase, especially for major appliances, and note manufacturers’ names, serial numbers, prices, and dates of purchase.Let the adjuster know if you need an advance or partial payment of loss when they arrive for the appraisal.
Can I repair my home or business immediately following the storm or do I need to wait for the insurance adjuster?
You should contact your insurance provider to determine exactly what you can and cannot do. Their rules are always subject to change. Be sure to keep a detailed record of what you are told. In general, you can make temporary repairs if necessary, such as boarding up broken windows and covering damaged roofs or walls to prevent further water intrusion or damage. Be sure to keep all of your receipts for any and all supplies and materials you purchased. You will need to provide copies of these receipts to your insurance company when you file your claim. Your insurance company should reimburse you for reasonable expenses.
What should I expect from my insurance company?
Your insurance company should provide the following:
- If your home is uninhabitable, then your insurance company should reimburse you for reasonable living expenses. This may include reimbursement for food that was ruined when your electricity was interrupted due to the storm
- Tree and debris removal
- Cost of repair if someone else’s property damages your home or property
- Automobile or boat damage
- The full cost of replacement of damaged property – computers, appliances, etc.
What is needed to provide “proof of ownership” for common household items?
Ideally, you should have an itemized inventory prepared of all of your possessions prior to the storm. The more thorough documentation you can provide the better. Receipts are the best proof. Photographs and video taken just prior to the storm can also be very helpful in documenting actual loss.
If you do not have any receipts or other evidence of ownership, it will be difficult to get full compensation for your loss. It is always a good idea to have a separate insurance policy or rider for rare, unique, or valuable items. This would include things such as artwork, jewelry, furs, guns, antiques, and other items that are especially difficult or impossible to replace. All appraisals and receipts for such items should be stored in a safe deposit box.
If I retain an attorney to represent my claim, will my insurance company cancel my policy? Will my premiums be increased?
No. Your policy cannot be cancelled, nor can your premiums be increased as a result of retaining an attorney to assist with your claim. If either occurs as a result of our representation, such conduct by the insurance carrier can be classified as retaliatory in nature and therefore subject to an insurance bad faith lawsuit.
I have an attorney that I always use, why should I consider your firm?
Hurricane damage and insurance law is a complex field. You need an attorney that has a proven track record of dealing with the big insurance companies and their attorneys. Michael Cerasa and his team have this experience. Michael Cerasa’s team of engineers and adjustors has many years of experience working for the major insurance carriers. They know all the tricks the major carriers use to undervalue or deny your claim, and are now ready to fight for you, the insured.
If you live in Florida and have experienced damage to your property and your insurer has denied or undervalued your claim, or have further questions about hurricane damage law, please contact attorney Michael D. Cerasa today to arrange a consultation. Se habla español.
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Orlando, FL 32801