While property owners in Florida have been fortunate in recent years to enjoy a respite from harsh tropical storms and hurricanes, we cannot expect this paucity of hurricanes and tropical storms to continue forever. Our homeowners insurance claims lawyers urge residents throughout Florida to take precautions to protect their well-being and property while also preparing for the aftermath of the next inevitable storm when it arrives.
There are precautions that all property owners who could be in the path of a storm should consider. Homeowners should make sure they have the following items on hand:
- Extension cords, fuel, and oil for generators
- Batteries for flashlights
- Fresh water for drinking
- Non-perishable food
- Fuel for barbecue or grilling (e.g. charcoal or propane)
- Ice and coolers that can be filled with perishable food
- Knowledge of the location of your insurance policies
In the aftermath of a storm, policyholders need to understand their rights and obligations in pursuing efficient processing of their homeowners insurance claim. While you have a duty to promptly notify your insurer of a loss, the personal safety of you and your loved ones take priority. The obligation to report the claim in a prompt fashion does not need to be undertaken until it is safe to do so.
When you report a property loss to your insurance carrier, you should make sure your insurance policy is available. Notes should be kept indicating the insurance company representative with whom you spoke, the insurance company contact number you dialed, and the day/time of the call. Homeowners who have difficulty reaching their insurance company should also keep a detailed record of all attempts. The substance of the conversation also should be noted. If you are instructed to take any specific actions, such as securing the property against further damage by covering the roof with a tarp, these instructions also should be written down. When you use your mobile phone to make the call, this will have the benefit of providing confirmation of the number called and the duration of the call.
Homeowners also need to pay attention to the terminology they use when reporting a loss. Certain terms can have very specific meaning within the context of a homeowner insurance claim. For example, two inches of water covering the floor of your home because of rain or a pipe bursting should never be described as “flooding.” Standard homeowner insurance policies do not cover flooding because such coverage must be obtained through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) managed by FEMA. Although your homeowners insurance carrier might provide this coverage through a Write-Your-Own (WYO) policy, the scope of the coverage will be different.
Homeowners also need to request an inspection of the damage even if it seems minor. Many homeowners make the mistake of assuming the damage is not significant. However, serious problems caused by water penetration behind the walls or under the flooring might not be immediately apparent. An inspection by a contractor that the homeowner contacts, who is not sent by the insurance company, also can be a valuable way to ensure that your claim is not underpaid.
Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Policyholders from Their Homeowners Insurance Company
If your homeowners insurance carrier fails to properly resolve your claim, our experienced Miami homeowners insurance claims lawyers can protect your interests and counter unfair practices by your insurer. Greenberg, Stone & Urbano tenaciously pursues the full compensation our clients are entitled to under the law. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted homeowners with damage claims across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages. Our skill and dedication have earned us an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.