Now that we are a few weeks removed from Hurricane Irma’s impact, most Florida citizens who sustained property damage have already reported their claims to their insurance companies. With the huge volume of Hurricane Irma claims, it’s likely that most insureds have not yet received a claims decision or even a payment from their insurance company.
As those claim payments start coming in, the important question is how do you know if the insurance company reimbursed you for the full amount of damages that your property sustained?
There are a few things to keep in mind when receiving that first check from your insurance company:
- Hurricane Deductible: Insurance policies carry larger deductibles for damages resulting from a Hurricane. Hurricane deductibles are typically 2% or 5% of the total amount of insurance coverage. In comparison to your typical $1,000.00 deductible, you could have up to a $15,000.00 deductible (at 5%) on a $300,000.00 insurance policy. If your insurance company is going to make payment, you won’t have to pay your deductible to anyone, but the amount your insurance company pays you will be reduced by your deductible. Keep your deductible in mind when assessing your damages as you may not have enough damage to meet your deductible.
- Documenting Damages: Pictures, pictures, pictures! Take as many photographs and videos of all of the damage inside and outside of your home. This includes fallen debris, water stained walls or ceilings, actual water on surfaces, wet baseboards, missing roof tiles, etc. Down the road, when the insurance company wants to avoid payment, it will be critical to show in photographs where you sustained damages as a result of the storm.
- Roof Damage: If you have sustained damage to your roof, make sure that a qualified and licensed roofer inspects and documents the hurricane damage to your roof. Get an estimate for a roof replacement or repairs. If you have leakage on the interior, make sure to have a tarp installed on your roof until repairs can be made.
- Hidden Damage: Damages may have occurred in places that are not readily visible to you—inside walls, in the attic, underneath roof tiles or shingles, behind cabinets, etc. Water will follow the path of least resistance and damage may not become evident until weeks or months after the storm. You can expect to discover more damages when you begin making repairs and opening walls.
- Signing a Release: The insurance company may offer you money in exchange for signing a Release. A Release typically precludes you from receiving any more money from your insurance company for your claimed damages. It precludes you from submitting supplemental claims to your insurance company and you also give up your right to sue your insurance company. If you sign a Release and find hidden damage down the road, you will not be able to get any more money. Releases are very serious. Do not sign a release from an insurance company unless you have consulted with an attorney.
If you’ve received a payment from your insurance company for Hurricane Irma damages, feel free to give us a call for a free claim evaluation. More likely than not, the insurance company did not pay you what you are entitled to under your insurance policy.
Your Property Damage, Our Problem!