As of June 1st, hurricane season officially started. To make matters worse, many people, for a variety of reasons, are still trying to fix their homes as a result of the damages inflicted last hurricane season. Our goal is to help ensure that you and the people you know can better equip themselves to deal with, what could be, an even more active and affluent hurricane season. As many may recall, Irma was projected to make landfall in the Keys and travel inland North throughout Florida. Shortly thereafter, the NHC (National Hurricane Center) reported a shift in Irma’s projected path, leaving many who once thought they were free and clear, in an absolute state of panic. Our goal is to make sure that you, your families, your property and belongings remain safe and protected as best as possible.
While we are all hoping this year’s hurricane season won’t be as devastating as the last, the NHC and many other national weather outlets are anticipating an even more active hurricane season this year.
What To Do Before a Hurricane
When a storm is approaching, one of, if not the most important things to do is to ensure your and your family’s safety. Once your family is in a secure/safe place when the storm comes, many of our concerns then fall on our homes, fixtures, personal belongings, etc. Taking steps to secure your property, such as, boarding up your windows, installing shutters, applying sandbags around the premises, etc., are great ways to protect your property from flying debris, forceful winds, and flooding. Many of you likely implement these protective measures, however, oftentimes it isn’t enough.
Hurricanes cause all types of damage – wind, rain, flooding, flying debris, and storm surge just to name a few. As a homeowner, many of you likely have homeowners insurance. In fact, if you have a mortgage, odds are your bank requires you to have homeowners insurance to protect your property. Many of you may believe your policy includes coverage for this type of catastrophic event. After all, this is Florida. However, you would be surprised to know that the various causes of damage enumerated above (and many others) may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy, or that your policy may only cover a portion of the damages incurred.
All too often, insurance companies misdiagnose storm damage and deny the claim on the basis of “long term” or “constant and repeated.” Essentially, the insurance company is alleging that the damages reported predate and are completely unrelated to the damage caused by the hurricane or storm. Additionally, with the influx of claims being reported by homeowners to these insurance companies following the storm, insurance companies are not equipped to handle all of these and are unable to properly and/or timely adjust your claim. Without knowing your rights, you could be left waiting months or even years for your insurance company to pay up.
One way to ensure maximum compensation when filing an insurance claim (in addition to performing routine maintenance to the property) is to take photographs the exterior and interior of your home before the storm. Thus, take plenty of pictures of the property, including the roof if you can do so safely. This will not only establish the condition of the property prior to the loss, but it will allow you to formulate a timeline that may help refute allegations by the insurer that the damages reported are the result of “long term” or “repeated” water damage.
Next you should document your personal belongings and valuable that are inside your home. You can use your iPhone, Android, tablet, etc., to help accomplish this task. Additionally, you may find it easier to simply record a walkthrough video of your home that displays the belongings or valuables inside the property. Make sure to include all areas of the home including the kitchen, living and dining room, bedrooms, bathrooms, family rooms, etc. Make sure to inventory the belongings in your closets and dressers as well, to document your belongings.
While we hope this year won’t be an active or destructive hurricane season, it is our mission to make sure you are prepared to take these hurricanes/storms head on. If you would like to learn more on how to safeguard your property before the storm, contact one of our Hurricane Lawyers today for a free consultation at (305) 847-9030 or by email at [email protected].