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What To Do After A Hurricane

Some homes will sustain damage in a hurricane, no matter what you do to avoid it. If your home is damaged in a hurricane, be sure you take the steps below to secure your property and to ensure your insurance claim is handled right away.

COVER DAMAGED PROPERTY

If your property has wind or rain damage, cover as much as you can with tarps to prevent additional water damage. Remember, your insurance company will look for any reason to deny your claim or shortchange you. If they think damage occurred after the storm passed, they may not pay the claim.

FILE YOUR HURRICANE INSURANCE CLAIM RIGHT AWAY.

Insurance companies expect you to act fast after a storm hits. The longer you wait, the more questions the insurance company will ask.

DOCUMENT ALL DAMAGES.

When you take pictures of your property, start outside and get the entire home in each photo. Take a picture of all four sides and the roof if you can. Take pictures that show the whole yard, too. Inside, take pictures of entire rooms and then individual possessions. Having a thorough photographic record is vital to prove losses when you file your claim. Also, keep a written inventory of your damaged property.

Bad Faith Hurricane Insurance

Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there has been more awareness of insurance bad faith after hurricanes. ‘Bad faith’ by an insurance company exists when the company does not honor your fair claim. Thousands of hurricane insurance lawsuits have been filed by people whose insurance companies underpaid or denied their rightful claims.

Sometimes the insurance company will review the damage to your property and say it was not entirely caused by the hurricane. Or, they might say that some part of the damage is not covered by your homeowners’ policy.

For instance, storms often cause water damage, which homeowners’ policies cover. However, the insurance company may argue that the water damage is flood damage, which your policy does not cover.

The insurance company also may delay payments you are owed. This adds terrible stress to your situation and may lead to further property damage. They know if they delay payment, the policyholder may take less money because they desperately need to begin repairs.

How to Determine Bad Faith

If your claims adjuster does any of the following, you may need to talk to an attorney:

  • Offers undervalued estimates
  • Attempts to force you to settle under another insurance policy
  • Tells you that you do not need an attorney to resolve your claim
  • Requires a written release of additional claims as a condition for insurance settlement

Not every claim delay or denial is bad faith. It is important to remember when a hurricane strikes, insurance companies can get slammed with a lot of claims at once. Claims adjusters arrive in affected areas and try to process claims quickly, for the most part.

Still, insurance companies want to make money, and insurance bad faith does happen after hurricanes. If you suspect that is the case, an attorney skilled in hurricane insurance litigation may help you.  Should you need any help getting through the storm, or getting through the mess created by the storm please let us know at Winslow Law.

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