When disaster strikes in the form of a hurricane or some other peril that causes a significant property loss, many homeowners find that they are in the position of filing a claim against their homeowners insurance for the first time.  The process can seem complicated because insurance policies are often dense and difficult to understand with a litany of exclusions, exceptions and conditions.  Following is an overview for homeowners who need to initiate a claim for loss.

1.Providing Notification to the Insurance Company:  The first step is to provide notice to your insurance carrier.  This process will include filing a Sworn Proof of Loss Form.  This document can be obtained from your insurance company.

2.Review Your Policy: While your policy may be long and confusing, it is important to review the entire policy and ensure that you understand the terms and conditions.  If there are provisions or language that is unclear, you should contact an insurance claims advocate. 

3.Memorialize Communications: A log should be maintained of every contact with the insurance company.  Your notes should include who you spoke with, the date/time of the communication, form of contact and subject matter of the discussion.

4.Do Not Sign a Release or Settlement Without Careful Review: When you sign a release or settlement of your claim, you waive important rights so read it carefully and make sure you understand the terms and the consequences of signing.  You may want to consult with an insurance claims attorney before signing.

5.Mitigate the Risk of Further Loss: While you must avoid destroying evidence of loss, the policy will require that you take steps to prevent further loss.  Examples of mitigation include covering broken out windows and leaky parts of the roof to prevent further water damage.  Any invoices, receipts or other documents evidencing mitigation measures should be saved.

6.Create Evidence of Loss: Any loss should be documented with pictures, video and notes.  If you have recorded the condition of your home and personal property inside the home prior to the event that causes loss, this will make it easier to prove the extent of loss.

7.Allow an Investigation Prior to Repair or Replacement: Although you need to take steps to mitigate further loss, you need to abstain from engaging in repair or replacement until an adjuster has conducted an inspection of the property.

8.Estimate the Value of Loss: You should get estimates from licensed experienced contractors regarding the cost and feasibility of repair.  This estimate should include the increased cost involved in complying with changes in the building code or price increases in materials.  You also will need to estimate the value of personal property that has been damaged or destroyed.  The contractor(s) you have preparing estimates of loss should have no affiliation of any kind with the insurance company.

9.Seek Legal Advice: If your insurance company engages in unreasonable delay, offers a lowball settlement or wrongfully denies your claim, you should seek advice from an experienced insurance claims attorney.

You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.
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