Is Hurricane Damage Covered By Homeowners Insurance?

How To Know If Hurricane Damage Is Covered By Homeowners Insurance

The recent Hurricane Ian caught many by surprise, taking lives and leaving tens of billions of dollars in damages to homes, businesses, and vehicles. In fact, in Fort Myers and Naples Ian has claimed over 120 lives. If you’re a homeowner here in Florida, hurricanes and their catastrophic effects should be of no surprise to you! On top of damages, flooding, and debris, Florida’s struggling insurance market has been adding stress on many. This has left many with lingering questions like: is hurricane damage covered by homeowner’s insurance? This article serves to answer that question along with many other insurance related things!

 

What Exactly Is Covered by Homeowners Insurance

The facts are that insurers don’t actually offer anything known as a “hurricane insurance policy.” Therefore, your traditional home insurance policy needs to be accompanied by additional policies. This à la carte method looks like adding windstorm, flood, or sewer backup insurance to reach your desired coverage. Needless to say, it isn’t always affordable for most! This is because it’s above what a standard HO-3 or HO-5 policy provides. Depending on your situation or desired amount of protection, you may need to bite the bullet and invest in higher coverage limits or additional policies. Most homeowners’ policies provide financial protection for:

  • A dwelling, basically the building or structure of your home
  • Your Personal property/belongings
  • Detached units like a garage, carport, or work shed
  • Your living costs if you are relocated
  • Your liability to others injured on your property

A Few Factors Decide If Hurricane Damages Are Covered in Your Homeowners Insurance

The answer to this question is a bit tricky. In actuality, the ways the damages occurred end up classifying whether or not it is covered by certain policies. Let’s ‘dive’ into a scenario where a person’s home is underwater due to a hurricane. We’re going to focus on the fact of how the water enters the home. Is it due to a leak in the roof and water is pouring in? Would wind-driven waves be pushing it in? Or is it rising water from outside the home, and it floods into the residence?

If it is the first situation involving the roof or wind-driven waves, there is a chance the damage is in your policy. To make it slightly more difficult, the insurance company can also factor in the age of your roof. (However, in the next section we discuss ways that you can go about mitigating this factor!)

On the other hand, if the water comes into the home due to flooding in your neighborhood, this would likely NOT be covered by your insurance plan. This falls upon a specific supplemental policy we mentioned, earlier known as a flood policy. The best way to arm yourself is to request a full outline of the policy specifics and find these specific scenarios that are included and talk to your adjuster.

How To Make A Home Insurance Claim After A Hurricane And Things To Prepare For

Following a hurricane, the next steps that you make are very important and you must do them right. To set yourself up for success for an insurance claim after a hurricane (and save yourself stress later!), make sure you do the following things:

  1. Regularly take videos of your furniture, electronics, and the interior structure/condition of your home. Photos are good too, but we recommend videos so it’s all on one reel. Repeat this process every six months but no longer than each year. (It is also important to stay up to date on any major renovations or repairs done as well) Once you take these videos/photos, be sure to upload all records to the cloud so you can access it from multiple devices.
  2. Repeat this process of taking videos and pictures of the outside of your home. This is particularly important for your roof (up-close and from a distance to show it’s condition), your gutters, pool deck, garage, etc.
  3. Prepare an emergency kit! Have important documents in a waterproof bag, prescription medications, cash, first aid items and a few other things mentioned in this article.
  4. Once the storm has cleared, make your rounds to inspect and record/document any changes or damages you discover. Be mindful that it likely takes time for an insurance adjuster to get out to you and inspect your home. It is up to you to document as much as possible as soon as possible. Equipping yourself with your own evidence and documentation also helps process your claim quicker and avoid potential claim disputes.

What Else Is Happening with the Homeowner Insurance Market?

As you’re likely already aware, six property insurers went under this past year in Florida. The reality is also that the issues we’re facing is in fact a self-imposed crisis (i.e., nothing to do with hurricanes!) What you probably don’t know is that the past several years, we’ve had a couple issues arise.

  • The first problem maker is the amount of roof replacement schemes. This is made up of dishonest contractors who go around and trick homeowners into believing they need to unnecessarily replace their roof.
  • The second wave maker involves excessive litigation filed against insurers by unscrupulous lawyers. This occurs when a contractor submits an excessive claim to an insurance company that ends up in rejection, so in turn, the contractor sues the insurer. Naturally, this leads to unending amounts of lawsuits that they must pay which includes attorney’s fees. Over 100,000 lawsuits on average in Florida are on the books in the past three years in relation to property claim issues.

 

The Martindale Law GroupAttorney Rick Martindale talking about How To Maximize Your Car Accident Settlement

Our personal injury and first-party insurance attorneys help file claims to recover damages for many types of clients. Some types that we specialize in are auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, insurance claims, wrongful death, boating accidents, sexual abuse, and brain and spinal cord injuries. We are proud to provide legal services to the residents of Florida who receive unfair treatment by their insurers. It does not matter whether an insurance claim has been denied, delayed, or mishandled. We help our clients obtain the financial coverage they need to repair their property from fire, water, or storm damage. Commercial litigation services to plaintiffs and defendants are also available for those involved in business and commercial transactions or disputes.

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