Over a week ago, the southwestern part of Florida experienced severe damage from tornado activity. The National Weather Service confirmed at least one of the tornadoes was an EF2 tornado, which is a level that has not affected this area of Florida since 2016. One county assessment reported “27 homes destroyed, 24 with major damage, and 14 with minor damage.” Additionally, at least four physical injuries were reported, thousands were without power, and over 60 homes are now beyond livable conditions.

Residents Urged to Have Property Damage Assessed Before Clean Up

County Commission Chairman Cecil Pendergrass understands the desire to begin a community clean-up effort, but he cautions residents to have their property damage assessed by an insurance adjuster first before moving anything. Insurance adjusters are trained to identify details that homeowners often miss or even dismiss as unimportant. “That is something that homeowners have to look at, should we leave this until the adjuster can get here to see it or should we put it in the street; that’s up to the homeowner, (the county) cannot go on the property,” Pendergrass said. “Personally, I would wait until I get something from the insurance before I start a taking the roof off my house or removing the carport off my trainer and so forth.” If you have suffered property damage from the tornadoes and can safely avoid doing so, do not begin your clean-up process until you can get an insurance adjuster out to your home to inspect everything properly. File your claim immediately to get the process started on getting your insurance company’s adjuster out to your home for an inspection.

How Do I File an Insurance Claim?

First-party insurance claims are the claims you file with your own insurance company to cover your property damage when an emergency happens. For example, if you have homeowner’s insurance and it covers tornado damage, then you would file a first-party claim when tornado damage is done to your home. For the victims of the recent tornado activity, they experienced the destruction first-hand and are now trying to get the help they need with the insurance plans they have been paying into.

Tips for Filing Successful Insurance Claims for Property Damage

  1. Get Familiar with Your Policy. It’s not enough to just have an insurance policy. You should read and understand every portion of your homeowner’s insurance policy to protect yourself against those who wish to manipulate you.
  2. Document the Condition of Your Property. Do not wait until it’s too late to document the condition of your property. Use a camera to take photographs of all your property, to include your home and your vehicles. Be sure to include serial numbers in your photographs, if they are available.
  3. Prepare for the Bad Weather. Take the necessary precautions to anticipate whatever weather is typical for your region. Taking initiative will pay off later for you.
  4. Contact Your Insurance Provider. In the event of an emergency with damage, be sure to contact your insurance provider before you move anything around.
  5. Take Notes and Photos of all Damage. Document as much of the damage as you can.
  6. Keep Everything, Even if It Seems Damaged. Do not trash anything that seems damaged. Wait until after an adjuster investigates the damage to determine whether or not something cannot be saved.
  7. Insist on a Thorough Investigation. If you notice an adjuster is cutting corners on his or her job, call them out on it. Make sure they go into all the areas they are meant to investigate.
  8. Don’t Do the Adjuster’s Job. As the insurance adjuster is doing his or her job, do not tell this person what you think is wrong with the damage. Let them come to that conclusion on their own.
  9. Dispute the First Estimate, If Needed. You do not have to accept the first estimate. Argue for a second estimate, if needed. You are your number one advocate.

Your Next Steps in Closing Insurance Claims

It is up to you to protect yourself during these moments of emergency. If you believe your insurance company is purposely avoiding your damage claim due to tornado damage, contact us today at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh PLLC. You deserve to have your home protected when it is damaged. We handle property damage cases throughout the state of Florida, and we want to do the same for you. Insurance companies are businesses first. While they are meant to provide you with help during your time of need, that is unfortunately not always the case. You need a trusted lawyer to gather inventory of your damage, document expenses, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Our experienced team is ready to fight for you and get you back on the road to hurricane recovery.