Filing an Insurance Claim After Storm Damage

As residents came out of their shuttered houses to survey the damage from the storm, they quickly realized that they would also need to navigate filing an insurance claim for damage caused by Hurricane Irma. Filing your insurance claim can be a daunting challenge, especially in the wake of a disaster that affected such a large geographic area. Insurance companies are being bombarded by calls, resulting in much longer response times than normal. Keep in mind, insurance agents, adjusters and other staff are also living without power, water, cell phones and wi-fi.

Do not however, let insurance companies avoid their obligations under your policy.

As you wait for your agent to return your initial phone call, read these tips to make filing your insurance claim easier for yourself, and your agent:

  1. Document your damages. Social media pages are loaded with images before and after the storm. Have you documented your damages? Take photos and video of the damage in your yard, home or business. In addition to the photos, create a document that explains any pertinent details of the damage, and any notes or questions that you might have.
  2. Take reasonable action to mitigate further damage. If you can reasonably prevent any further damage to your home or business, take photos of the damage, and then do what you can to limit any additional damage. If your roof is leaking, please have a qualified person cover the problem area with a tarp or temporary “blue roof.” You should not try to take on dangerous repairs or remediation yourself. If water damage is inside your home, try to clean up and dry the area.
  3. Locate copies of your policies. Before your agent or adjuster comes to visit you, locate your insurance policy and familiarize yourself with your coverage limits. Write down any questions that you might have. If possible, contact your attorney with those questions.
  4. Get multiple estimates. You are free to get estimates before and/or after your adjuster visits. You do not have to accept the estimates proposed by your insurer.
  5. Be aware of supplemental claims: Often damages are not readily visible when you first meet with your adjuster. Compensation for newly discovered damages can be sought through supplemental claims filed after the initial claim.
  6. Read the fine print. When receiving estimates or payment from your insurer, read the fine print. You are not required to release claims for additional damage upon receipt of payment. Make sure the insurer is not asking for release.
  7. Return Correspondence from your insurance company. Prior to the storm, many insurance companies sent out mass emails and texts. Refer to these communications to determine if there is information provided on how to quickly begin the process of filing a claim.
  8. Remember “no” and “Hell no” both mean the same thing. Tensions are high with many people right now. Adjusters are working long days and claimants are stressed. Be polite, but firm. Your insurance policy is a contract and you have rights under that contract. Being polite but firm in insisting on those rights may avoid an unnecessary dispute. There are statutes in place that allow the recovery of your attorneys’ fees and costs if your insurer fails to honor your policy. If you are not satisfied your policy is being honored, CALL US.
  9. Ask questions. If you have questions, ASK them! If you have spoken to your insurance company, and you still feel as if you have unanswered questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Blount Law. We can help you sort through the details and make sure that you are getting the coverage that you deserve.

Remember, Hurricane Irma was a huge storm that affected people throughout the entire State of Florida. Recovery from this storm will take many months, if not years. Make sure that during this time of recovery, that you can rebuild even stronger and smarter.

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Written by blountlaw