Hurricane Damage Insurance Disputes
Home, vehicle, or business owners that have been impacted by a hurricane may wish to begin cleanup and repair efforts as soon as possible following a hurricane. However, insurance companies often require assessors to evaluate hurricane damage and submit a summary before covering the cost of repairs. If cleanup efforts have begun prior to the date of the assessment, the insurance company may not reimburse the policy holder for efforts taken without express consent from the insurance company. It is advisable to contact the insurance company and a hurricane damage attorney prior to beginning cleanup efforts to avoid denied claims.
Damages Not Covered
Many hurricane insurance policies cover damage that has been caused by hurricane winds, but not damage caused by hurricane flooding. If this is expressly stated in a hurricane insurance policy, the insurance company may not be liable for the damage. However, if the policy is unclear about which damages are covered and attempts to deny a claim based on wording that is vague or misleading, a hurricane damage attorney may be able to assist the policy holder in recovering rightful compensation.
Following any natural disaster that causes major damage, it is common for unlicensed contractors to attempt to profit from unsuspecting home and business owners. These contractors may tell home and business owners that the insurance company has requested services to repair damage, and that payment will be reimbursed. Home and business owners should contact the insurance company prior to allowing any repairs to ensure that the cost of repairs will be covered and that the contractors have the necessary qualifications to complete the repairs.
Denied Hurricane Insurance Claims
If a hurricane damage claim has been denied, a hurricane damage attorney may be able to provide assistance for appealing the claim or filing a suit against the insurance company. Many insurance companies intentionally mislead customers to avoid paying legitimate hurricane damage claims. A hurricane damage attorney may be able to prove that the policy holder has been misled and that the denial of the claim is illegal.
Storm Damage Coverage
Common storms that may cause damage include hurricanes, windstorms, tornadoes, hail storms, earthquakes, and winter storms. When purchasing homeowner’s insurance, it is important that all aspects of the insurance policy are clearly understood, so that claims for storm damage are not denied. Even if additional storm coverage is purchased, home owners may still need to purchase flood insurance. Nearly all storms carry the risk of causing flood damage, yet flood damage is typically excluded from storm coverage.
Types of Storm Damage
Storm damage may differ depending on the type and severity of the storm, the style of the home, and other factors. Home owners may be advised to take certain precautions in order to limit the amount of damage that storms can cause, such as pruning trees and shuttering windows before a wind storm. There may also be discounts available on insurance premiums for the purchase of items that may help prevent storm damage, such as storm shutters and back-up generators.
Types of damage that homeowners may encounter following storms include:
Tree damage • Damage to home and structures from falling trees • Damage to property and belongings from earthquakes • Destruction of property from strong winds • Damage to siding and windows from hail • Roof collapse from heavy snow • Damage to foundations, sidewalks, and driveways from ice storms • Destruction of property from tornadoes and flying debris • Flooding from melting snow and ice • Flooding from rising rivers and lakes • Sewer back-up from flooding • Lightning damage
Storm Damage Claims
Following a storm that has caused property damage, home owners should contact the insurance company and file a claim as soon as possible. Home owners may be asked to provide a listing of damaged or destroyed property along with an estimated valuation. The insurance company will send out an insurance adjuster to assess and document the damage. An adjuster's estimates may be lower than the actual cost of repairs, so it may be helpful for the home owner to seek the opinion of an unbiased party.
Denied Storm Damage Claims
If a storm damage claim is denied, the insurance company is required to supply the homeowner with the reason for denial. While denial on the basis of restrictions that are outlined in the policy is acceptable, homeowne'rs insurance companies may also deny claims on the basis that home owners did not take necessary precautions to prevent damage. One example of this is having an outdoor water pipe burst following a winter storm when water was not shut off as a precaution. Homeowner's insurance companies may also deny claims due to homeowner error during the filing process.
Handling Denied Claims
If a storm damage claim was denied by a homeowner's insurance company and the reason does not satisfy the home owner, an attorney that specializes in unfair insurance claim denials may be able to help. While homeowners are entitled to file an appeal following a denied claim, insurance companies often will not overturn a decision unless pressured to do so by the presence of a knowledgeable attorney. If the claim is denied due to a provision that is not clearly expressed in the policy, the insurance company is obligated to honor the claim. If an insurance company failed to warn a home owner that common storm risks are not covered under the standard homeowner's insurance policy, the insurance company may be required to cover the damages. If it is determined that the insurance company was intentionally misleading, the insurance company may also face legal penalties.
Hurricane Claims Process
Any insurance policy holder that believes there is hurricane damage to property or a building that should be covered under an insurance policy should contact the insurance company, and in some cases a hurricane damage attorney, as soon as possible. Working with the insurance company to begin the process for filing claims may help to ensure that claims are filed properly and that disputes do not arise. In most cases, insurance companies will be able to walk policy holders through the process for filing a claim and evaluate what damages are covered under the policy.
Taking pictures of the damage and compiling a rudimentary estimate of the damage are record keeping tactics that may be helpful in receiving proper compensation from the insurance company. These records may be helpful in taking legal action against the insurance company if the claim is denied and the help of a hurricane damage attorney is needed. A hurricane damage attorney may be able to provide further advice for obtaining information that may be helpful for recovering costs from hurricane damage.
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