What You Need to Know About Your Hurricane Irma Vehicle Insurance Claim

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

If you carry the minimum amount of vehicle insurance required by Florida law, will this cover hurricane damages?

Windstorm damage, flooding, debris, and projectiles can all cause serious damage to a vehicle. Your vehicle can be insured against all of these hazards with the proper coverage. By law, Florida residents are required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) insurance in order to maintain a valid license and registration. However, these insurance policies only cover damages to medical bills incurred by you as a rersult of an auto accident (PIP) and damages to another’s property (PDL). Thus, PIP and PDL will not cover damage to your vehicle caused by a hurricane, flood, or any other kind of weather related damage. If you want your vehicle to be covered, you will need additional vehicle insurance.

What kind of vehicle insurance do you need to cover hurricane damage to your car?

Simply put, you will probably need some form of comprehensive vehicle insurance in order to ensure coverage for non-accident related damage to your vehicle. Whether collision related or weather related, comprehensive vehicle insurance is your best bet if you want to be covered for hurricane related damage to your car. Comprehensive vehicle insurance coverage may even cover you in case your car is damaged by flooding. Depending on your driving history, your location, the value of your car, and the deductible that you pay, comprehensive vehicle insurance rates can vary in cost. Whether comprehensive vehicle insurance is right for you will depend on your particular circumstances.

What if you do not have or cannot afford comprehensive vehicle insurance?

If you cannot afford comprehensive vehicle insurance, there are still a variety of options to keep your vehicle safe during a hurricane. The first option you should explore is parking your vehicle in a parking garage. This may not guarantee complete safety to your car during a storm, but it may be safer than leaving it on a street exposed to the elements.

Before Hurricane Irma, there were many different public and private parking garages offering free parking during the storm, including the Miami Marlins parking garages, IKEA parking garages, and a variety of city and county parking garages. While this may be a good option, it is important to note that these garages will not be held responsible for hurricane damages and non-weather related damages, like vandalism and theft. If you cannot park your vehicle in a garage and need to park it outside parking next to a building can help shield your vehicle from any high winds and projectiles. Finally, if you are in an area prone to storm surge or flooding, you should park your car further inland and away from flood and surge prone areas.

Follow these tips to minimize the risk of damage to vehicles. Even if you carry comprehensive coverage it is still best practice to follow these steps to minimize your losses.

How does the claims process work?

The vehicular claims process works much like any other sort of insurance claim process. First you will document the damages to your vehicle. This will include before and after photos of the damage, as well as a picture of the location where your vehicle was stored if possible. Furthermore, have the following information handy: your policy number, the start and end date of your policy, and the date and time of the event causing the damage. Timely inform your insurer of the damage and fully cooperate with their instructions. Your insurer may require you to complete a sworn statement detailing the event and time of the damage (similar to a proof of loss). Your insurer will assign your case to a company adjuster and an inspection of the vehicle will be scheduled.  Once an amount has been agreed upon, your case will be settled and your case will be closed.+

Why would your insurance company deny coverage?

There are a variety of reasons why your insurance company may deny your claim. Your insurer may deny your claim if you did not report the loss promptly, or if you misrepresented material information when you completed your application for insurance.  Some insurance companies will deny coverage based on a varierty of exlusions contained in insurance policies.  If your claim has been denied, or you are met with friction by your insurance company, do not hesitate to seek legal advice.

You can reach Miami Hurricane 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].