This is second installment of our two-part post that is intended for homeowners preparing for hurricane season. Experienced Florida homeowner insurance attorney J.P. Gonzalez has provided tips for homeowners that can help protect their family, home and potential insurance claim. We invite you to review Part I of this article that focuses on preparing an emergency plan for your family. Part II provides tips on preventative measures to reduce damage to your home and steps to protect your claim for loss following a hurricane.
Protecting Your Home to Mitigate Hurricane Damage
Because J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo has handled many claims as a former adjuster, he is intimately familiar with the types of damage often suffered during hurricanes. Mr. Gonzalez-Sirgo has provided some tips for homeowners that can reduce the damage to your home caused by the severe wind and rain of a hurricane.
Inspect and Reinforce Your Roof: Homeowners should carefully inspect the shingles or tiles on their roof to ensure none are missing or loose. Any tiles or shingles that are not firmly secured should be reattached or reinforced with roofing cement. This precaution can prevent roofing shingles from becoming hazardous projectiles and also prevent damage to the underlying roof components. An additional option that homeowners may want to consider is the use of hurricane straps to ensure that the roof does not become dislodged from the rest of the structure of the home.
Consider a Garage Door Brace: Although many homeowners presume that the roof of a home is the part of the structure that is most at-risk during a hurricane, the garage typically is more vulnerable because garage doors lack reinforcement. When wind blows into the garage, this can create a force that pushes on the roof of the garage at the same time that the winds outside the structure are pulling on the roof. This combination of forces can dislodge the roof from the garage. There are kits that can be purchased to reinforce the door of your garage and mitigate this risk.
Prune Trees and Branches: Because homeowners often neglect to trim back trees and remove dead limbs, falling tree limbs or toppled trees are one of the most common causes of storm damage during heavy winds. During the harsh winds of a hurricane, tree branches could damage your roof or that of your neighbor. The branches also may be blown through the air so that they crash through a window of your home. While you may be able to file a homeowner claim to cover the damage to your house, this may not prevent out of pocket loss. Sometimes trees will topple in the winds and not strike your home. Generally, homeowner insurance policies will not cover the cost of tree removal when the home is not damaged. The cost of having the wood cut and removed can amount to hundreds of dollars, so an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure.
Ensure Windows and Doors are Securely Fastened: Windows can be protected with storm shutters or alternatively boarded up as a back-up option. This will reduce the risk of a broken window providing an access point for wind and rain penetration. Multiple locks on all doors should be used with deadbolts offering the most protection. Although some people focus on only the doors or windows that face the water, hurricane winds can swirl from all directions so doors and windows throughout the house should be secured.
Pursuing a Homeowner Insurance Claim after a Hurricane
Even when a homeowner is extremely diligent in preparing for a hurricane, severe damage to one’s home can still occur. While your homeowner insurance may cover your losses, Mr. Gonzalez-Sirgo has provided some tips in preparing for and initiating your claim:
Document Your Loss: Before you actually file your claim, you need to carefully inspect the premises and note all damage to your home and personal property. Photographs and video should be used to provide evidence of the damage and loss. A pre-loss video inventory will also prove invaluable because it will help you avoid false claims by the insurance carrier that items that disappear during the hurricane never actually existed. Video is the best option and should be narrated with descriptions of the item and an indication of its value.
Mitigate Further Damage: While most insurance policies impose a duty to mitigate damages, you want to be careful not to make permanent repairs until the home has been inspected by an insurance adjuster. Steps you will want to take include pumping water out of the home if it is flooded and covering broken out windows or holes in your roof.
Review Your Policy and Initiate a Claim: Notice of your loss must be provided to your insurance company promptly. Homeowners should carefully review their policy because there will be conditions and requirements imposed that you will need to satisfy to protect your claim. If you do not understand the requirements for filing your claim, you might want to talk to a Florida homeowner insurance claims attorney to avoid mistakes.
If you have questions about your homeowner insurance claim, experienced Florida insurance attorney J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo can analyze your situation and advise you of your options. Mr. Gonzalez-Sirgo handles disputed claims 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.