This is the second installment of our three-part blog post that provides information responsive to questions homeowners are likely to ask if their home is damaged by a hurricane. As we noted in Part I of this blog post, hurricanes post a somewhat unique threat because multiple policies are often applicable to different types of hazards associated with hurricanes, such as wind and flooding. While we have answered a variety of questions about property damage claims caused by a hurricane, we recognize that you might have specific concerns that pertain to your situation. The best way to get more specific information about your case is to talk to an experienced Miami-Dade County insurance claims attorney.
What types of insurance adjusters handle insurance claims involving hurricane damage?
There are a variety of claims adjusters you might encounter after filing your claim if your property is damaged in a hurricane, such as:
- Insurance Company Adjusters: This type of adjuster is an employee of the insurance company. Generally, company adjusters will have a Florida license though sometimes they are in Florida temporarily. Adjusters who are employees for the insurance company will tend to produce reports and estimates that favor the insurance company.
- Special Investigation Unit (SIU): If you are approached or contacted by an adjuster who indicates that he or she is this type of adjuster, you need to be very cautious. When your insurance company gets an SIU involved in your claim, this is a red flag indicating your insurance company suspects you of fraud. The mere involvement of an adjuster who is part of the special investigation unit makes it essential that you obtain an experienced Miami-Dade County insurance claims lawyer immediately.
- Public Adjusters: These are independent licensed insurance adjusters who can be hired to work directly for a policyholder.
- Independent Adjusters: This type of insurance adjuster is often confused by policyholders with a public adjuster. The moniker “independent” is misleading in this context. Technically, these adjusters are not formal employees of the insurance company, but they adjust claims as part of their occupation. They are hired by insurance companies, which typically use the same “independent” adjusters repeatedly. Because these adjusters know who “butters their bread”, there reports and conclusions typically favor the insurer. In many cases, a single insurance company will provide most or all of the business to an independent adjuster.
- Catastrophic Adjuster: These adjusters also work for the insurance company. The experience of these adjusters can vary dramatically with some highly qualified while others have only nominal experience.
Can I obtain an advance from my insurance company while waiting for my home to be repaired after a hurricane?
While most policies do not require an insurance company to make advances, many policies do provide an additional living expense (“ALE”) advance to cover extra expenses incurred by a property owner arising from alternate housing arrangements. Even when a homeowner policy provides ALE coverage, the insurer frequently will deny such payments by claiming that the house is still habitable. Sometimes insurance carriers will take this position even when the house does not have plumbing or electricity.
ALE coverage generally is referred to as “incurred coverage”. This term refers to coverage that only pays out when the policyholder has actually paid the expense or become obligated to do so. Policies will also place a cap on ALE expenses which means you need to review you policy to determine how much ALE coverage your policy provides. If you know the amount of ALE coverage available, you can budget your expenses to reduce the chance you run out of coverage prematurely.
If you have questions about Miami-Dade homeowners insurance claims, you are welcome to contact my Miami hurricane insurance claims law firm. 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.