While Florida residents continue to enjoy an extended period without a hurricane making landfall, historically hurricanes have been one of the most significant perils for homeowners in our state. Although many homeowners presume that their homeowners insurance will cover damage to their home, there are potential issues and challenges that an insured must be aware of when initiating a post-hurricane claim. As a Miami-Dade County insurance dispute lawyer, my law firm represents many homeowners in insurance claims disputes.
What practical factors can make it difficult to obtain a prompt resolution of your insurance claim in Miami and the surrounding areas of Florida after a hurricane?
When a hurricane strikes, property insurance companies are inundated with tens of thousands of claims. The sheer number of claims can mean that customer service and promptness suffer. Homeowners also face serious practical challenges like loss of power to their home and interruption of their cell phone service. Homeowners also may not be in a position to pay for alternate lodging and living expenses. While your insurance coverage might cover these temporary living costs caused by your displacement, lack of preparation can mean that your insurance contact and policy information as well as other critical documents are left behind in your home.
Because of this possible scenario, policyholders should make copies of their insurance policies, contact numbers and financial documents which can be stored with relatives or friends. When important information and documents are stored in an alternate location this can facilitate your ability to pursue a claim if you are temporarily displaced from your home.
What timing requirements must homeowners observe to protect their property damage claim?
Policyholders need to provide timely notice of a claim and a sworn proof of loss within a reasonable period. When an insured is aware of relevant deadlines, he or she is in a better position to preserve his or her rights. Insurance companies have a legal duty to respond to claims within fourteen days of being notified of the claim. The homeowners carrier also has a duty to pay the claim within ninety days of the claim being reported. The only exception to the “90 day rule” is when there are factors outside the control of the insurance company that prevent the carrier from paying the claim. When this exception applies, the insured gets another fifteen days to respond after getting a handle on the issues preventing payment.
Are there reasons that my homeowners policy might not cover the damage to my residence that is caused by a hurricane?
There are three primary reasons that your insurance company might assert to justify denying your hurricane damage claim: (1) the damage was not reported in a timely manner to your insurance company; (2) the property damage subject to the claim pre-dated the hurricane; and (3) the damage is the result of flooding which must be covered by a separate type of policy.
These are just a few initial challenges homeowners face when their home is damaged in a hurricane. My law firm represents policyholders in claims disputes in Miami and throughout Florida, so we can guide you through the process. 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.