The nightmare that was Hurricane Ian has passed, but the nightmare of trying to put your life back together could last for a long time. The last thing you need at this point is trouble from your insurance company while filing a property damage claim after Hurricane Ian. Unfortunately, insurers will often deny perfectly legitimate claims in an effort to protect their profit margins.

If this is happening to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh. We’ll do everything we can to force your insurance company to give you full and fair compensation for your losses.

Property Damage Associated with Hurricanes

If you’ve lived in Florida for any length of time, you’ve either had a close brush with a hurricane, or your area has suffered a direct hit. It’s just part of the price of living in paradise. You probably couldn’t care less about what category Ian was when it tore through Southwest Florida. But the insurance company will often care a great bit. Here’s a quick look at some of the kinds of damage that Category 3, 4 and 5 hurricanes can do.

  • Category 3 – This is a hurricane with wind speeds of between 111-129 mph sustained. Even a very well-constructed home can see a great deal of damage, including the loss of roof decking. If repairs aren’t performed as soon as possible, water intrusion could result in the development of mold that could cost thousands of dollars to eliminate.
  • Category 4 – Ian was in this category at landfall – barely – with sustained winds of 155 mph. As you’re all too well aware, this results in catastrophic damage. Most homes will at least lose part of their roof, and may also lose some of their exterior walls as well.
  • Category 5 – The worst of the worst, Cat 5 hurricanes have winds of 157 mph or higher. The damage is typically even worse than a Cat 4, with complete roof failure and collapsed walls.

Reasons to File a Property Damage Claim After Hurricane Ian

Homeowners insurance in Florida is ridiculously high. You’ve been paying for it for years, so you’ll definitely want to take advantage of your coverage if you’ve suffered major losses due to Ian. Here are just a few specific scenarios where filing a property damage claim will definitely be in your best interests.

  • The repair costs will be more than your deductible. Suppose you’ve suffered severe roof damage due to the storm. Repairs will cost $7,000, and you have a $1,000 deductible. If this is the case, then it will definitely be worth it to file a claim.
  • You’ve suffered a total loss. This is the biggest reason why you have homeowners insurance in the first place. If you’ve had so much damage that your home is uninhabitable, you’ll need to take action in order to recover your losses.
  • You haven’t filed a claim in a long time. Insurance companies may charge higher premiums when homeowners file more claims, of course. If you haven’t done this in at least three years, there’s at least a chance your premiums won’t skyrocket.

How to File a Property Damage Claim After Hurricane Ian

The first step when filing a property damage claim is to do whatever you can to try and limit any further damage from taking place. That means putting a tarp over damaged areas of your roof, and covering any windows you may have lost. In fact, there’s probably a very good chance that your policy states that you have to do this. If you don’t, the insurer could put the blame on you for any other damage that occurs, and deny your coverage as a result.

Here are a few of the other steps you should take when filing a claim.

  • Call your insurer as soon as possible to report the damage.
  • Make a list of all the repairs that are needed.
  • Find out if you can receive an advance payment so that you can immediately start repairs.
  • Ask if the insurer will cover your temporary housing costs if your home is uninhabitable.
  • Place a sign in front of your home if the address is no longer visible from the street.
  • Make sure you are home when the adjuster arrives.

The Insurance Claim Process After a Hurricane

You’ve probably been through the process of filing a property damage claim in the past, and you already know it can be time-consuming and frustrating. But by taking the following steps as soon as possible, you might see that the process goes smoother than you expected.

Take Pictures and Videos of Damage

There really is no such thing as “over-documenting,” so to speak, property damage. Take a close look at your entire home, taking pictures of every bit of damage that has happened. Take photos and videos of not only the inside, but the outside as well. Also, take pictures/videos of any personal property that has been damaged.

Make a List of All Damages and Losses

Write down every single item that has been damaged or destroyed, and give the adjuster a copy. Also, provide copies of any receipts for those items you may still have. Don’t throw anything away until the adjuster has been to your home. Also, make a note that you’ll want the electrical system checked.

Contact Your Insurance Company

The faster you get in touch with your insurer, the earlier your claim can be set in motion – and the faster you can start to try and get back to normal.

Meet with Adjuster

It will be extremely important that you’re at home when the adjuster arrives. This person is going to be incredibly busy, having to visit many, many other homeowners. You definitely don’t want to have to reschedule, because you have no idea when another adjuster will be available.

How Will an Attorney Help Me with My Insurance Claim?

An attorney with Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh can help level the playing field between you and the insurance company. We will make sure you’re treated properly at every turn, and we’ll always be here to answer any questions you may have. Learn more by contacting us online or calling our office.