As Hurricane Irma continues to gather strength while putting all of Florida potentially in its crosshairs, South Florida in particular is busy preparing for the high winds and water that will accompany a storm of this magnitude. Your first priority should always be the safety of loved ones and family, but once their security is assured, there are certain steps you can take to before and after a storm in order to best position yourself to deal with your insurance company.
Prior to the Storm
- Document Everything – Take pictures of both the interior and exterior of your home, including the roof. Document all windows and openings to the outside where potential water could get in. This will ensure that your insurance company can’t deny you coverage or undervalue your claim because of what they might consider a pre-existing condition.
- Secure Paperwork – Make sure your insurance policy is in a safe and waterproof place. Put it in plastic bags and take pictures of it with your phone just in case the paperwork is damaged or lost.
- Protect Your Home – If you have shutters, put them up. Failure to do so during a storm can be reason enough for an insurance company to deny your claim.
After the Storm
- Document Everything – Take the same pictures of both the interior and exterior of your home that you did prior to the storm to document any and all damage.
- Contact your Insurance Carrier – As soon as communication allows, report your claim. Many insurance policies are now written to specifically mandate “immediate” notice of a loss, and insurance companies will often spend lots of money defending against the payment of your claim based upon an alleged “late notice” defense.
- Comply with Insurance Requests – Once you are in touch with your insurance carrier, make sure to comply with their requests and to protect your property from any further damage. Once they send an adjuster out to survey your property, it is critically important to point out and document all damage.
Remember, even though the adjuster may be friendly and professional, he or she is not an advocate for the full payment of your loss. The adjuster is employed by the insurance company and their goal, is often to provide the least amount of coverage for your loss.
If you are not satisfied with the treatment, coverage or payment provided by your insurance company, contact our attorneys at Weinstein & Cohen, P.A. for a free consultation at 305-374-1011 or 239-793-3331 or visit fairnessforall.