Four Common Coverage Questions about Windstorm Damage Claims in Florida

Although tropical storms, hurricanes and other adverse weather that involves severe wind constitute one of the most important perils necessitating homeowner’s coverage in Florida, we have been lucky in recent years.  However, homeowners insurance is indispensable because even reprieves like the one we are currently enjoying eventually end, resulting in unpredictable and devastating damage.  Wind damage is a common peril, so this blog provides answers to common questions for homeowners who have suffered wind damage to their home.

Do I need to use separate flood insurance to cover water damage caused by a wind storm?

While Miami homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, there are other types of water damage that are covered by a standard Florida homeowners policy.  When water penetration occurs because of damage to the premises caused by wind, this form of water damage is covered.  For example, wind might rip shingles from the roof, so rain damages the structure and personal property in the home.

Am I required to comply if my insurance company wants information and documents?

While an insured will typically have a contractual obligation to provide information and documents relevant to a claim and loss to his or her insurance carrier, this can be a double-edged sword.  The information you provide also might be used by the insurer to justify denying your claim or minimizing the value of the claim.  If you are pursuing a claim for damage to your home, it is advisable to seek legal advice before providing information or documents to your insurer.  However, you have an obligation to respond in a timely manner, so time is of the essence in seeking legal advice.

How should I proceed if my home is damaged by strong winds or a hurricane?

If your residence is damaged, you should promptly contact an experienced insurance attorney who can notify your insurance company of your claim.  If your insurance company does not receive timely notice of your claim, the failure to comply with this requirement under your policy can result in denial of your claim.

Homeowners should also take photos to document any damage to the structure or personal property inside the home.  Along with taking pictures, you should take temporary measures to mitigate further damage.  However, permanent repairs and clearing of debris should be postponed until an adjuster sent by your insurance company inspects the property.  It is generally advisable to have your own contractor inspect the property so that you have a basis for gauging the fairness of the insurance company’s estimate of the value of your claim.

Are there time limits that dictate how long my insurance company has to handle my claim?

The insurance company should send an adjuster within a short time after you notify the insurer of your claim.  The insurance company then has a reasonable time to adjust your claim.  Under Florida law, your homeowners insurance company has 90 days to deny or pay your claim.

If your home has been damaged by high winds, you should seek prompt legal advice.  My law firm represents policyholders in claims disputes in Miami and throughout Florida.  The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations.  No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees.  Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.

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