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Eight Steps to Recovering Under Your Hurricane Insurance Policy
Eight Steps to Recovering Under Your Hurricane Insurance Policy

The threat of hurricanes is very real for southern states from Texas to Florida and eastern states from Florida to New Jersey, New York, and even Maine during the six-month long Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 until November 30. Before a hurricane, you should take steps to protect your home or business. For example, take time now to review your insurance policies to ensure you have adequate coverage for wind and flood losses. Review your policy limits and deductibles and consider whether you should contact your agent to seek excess insurance, increase policy limits, or lower deductibles. 

Once there is a possibility of hurricane development that could affect your property, you should take steps to protect your property.  You may board up windows, place sandbags around doors, and move vehicles and outdoor furniture to a safe place.

When your best attempts to prepare for a hurricane are not enough, the steps you take following a storm are critical to your ability to replace or rebuild what is lost. Therefore, before a hurricane hits your home or business, it’s also important to know what steps you need to take after a hurricane to protect your property from further damage, satisfy insurance policy conditions, and present your claim, so you can recover the full benefits due under your insurance policies.

  1. Provide prompt notice to all of your insurers.  Make sure there is a written record of when and how you provided notice. 
  2. As soon as it is safe to do so, take photographs or videos, document, inventory, and submit proof of visible damages to your insurer.  Provide facts, not opinions.  Refrain from commenting on coverage.   Your goal is to document all visible damage.
  3. Keep a claim chronology with all significant events after the storm.  Include the date and method of notice; dates and summaries of all communications with agents, adjusters, and insurance company representatives; dates and summaries of all communications with contractors, mitigation companies, and others who evaluate, assess, and/or perform work on your building.
  4. Mitigate.  Prevent further damage to the extent you are able.  The insurance policy requires it.  To the extent you are able, use tarps to prevent further water intrusion and use towels and fans to dry out the interior of buildings.  Seek advice from your insurance company or a mitigation or restoration company.  If you decide to retain a mitigation or restoration company to assist in mitigation efforts, notify your insurance company before the mitigation or restoration company begins work unless it is impossible to do so.  If it is not possible to notify the insurer first, take photographs and videos before mitigation begins and ask your restoration company to take photographs throughout the clean-up process.
  5. Read your insurance policy and comply with policy conditions.  Insurance policies contain conditions and cooperation clauses that obligate policyholders to assist in the investigation process. Policyholders should allow inspections, create a written and photographic inventory of damaged and undamaged property, provide documents requested by the insurance company, provide (if required) a sworn proof of loss setting forth the amount claimed and any other information required by the policy, and provide an examination under oath if one is requested by the insurance company.
  6. Understand legal rights and requirements relevant to your claim. Under Florida law, for example, policyholders are required to provide notice of a property insurance claim within one year of the date of loss and notice of a supplemental claim within 18 months of the date of loss.  Under residential insurance policies issued in Florida, insurance companies are required to respond to a claim communication within seven days, begin investigating a claim within seven days of receiving a Proof of Loss (a sworn statement setting forth certain information outlined in the insurance policy), conduct a physical inspection within 30 days, send a copy of their estimates to a policyholder within seven days of the estimate being generated, and pay or deny a claim or set forth the reasons the insurer is unable to do so within 60 days of receiving notice of a claim. Other states have different requirements for insurers; your lawyer will be able to tell you about them.
  7. Obtain estimates and proposals from contractors you may hire to perform hurricane repairs. Submit the proposals to your insurance company before commencing work. Notify the insurance company of the date work is set to commence and allow the insurance company a reasonable period of time to inspect or re-inspect prior to commencing work if possible.  Require contractors to document the condition of the property during the repair process and to notify you if they discover hidden damage.  Notify your insurance company if additional damage is discovered and afford them an opportunity to inspect. If your insurer is unable to send a representative within a reasonable period of time, document the additional damage in photographs, videos, and through contractor notes/reports prior to proceeding with repairs.
  8. If you are unable to reach an agreement on the claim, consider requesting mediation. If a dispute arises under a personal lines or commercial residential insurance policy issued in Florida, for instance, a policyholder may request mediation pursuant to Section 627.7015, Florida Statutes, and the insurer must bear the reasonable cost of conducting a mediation conference. If requested by the policyholder, participation by legal counsel is permitted.           

An experienced hurricane damage claim attorney can assist you in obtaining the compensation you need to rebuild what you lost. If you have any questions, please reach out to us or any one of Flaster Greenberg’s insurance counseling and recovery attorneys.

  • Jay M. Levin

    Jay M. Levin is a member of Flaster Greenberg’s Insurance Counseling and Recovery and Litigation Practice Groups, focusing his practice on representing policyholders in disputes with insurance companies involving all types of ...

  • Meghan C. Moore

    Meghan C. Moore serves on Flaster Greenberg’s Board of Directors and is a member of the Women’s Advisory Group. With nearly two decades of experience in insurance counseling and recovery and an unwavering commitment to ...

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