Hurricane season has just begun - are you really prepared? According to the National Hurricane Center, the Atlantic Hurricane Season lasts through November 30th, and a warming trend in the Atlantic will provide plenty of fuel for hurricanes to develop and churn across the water. As usual, Florida is a likely path for these damage-dealing mega storms.
The aftermath of the storm creates anxiety and sometimes panic in the unfortunate ones dealing with horrible loss. Questions begin before the winds dissipate: how will I repair the damage to my home, cars, property and how will I replace those things lost or irreparably damaged?
Information on preparing for a hurricane is available in many places, including the Red Cross, law enforcement agencies and the local fire departments. They provide lists for ease of preparation before the storm strikes for food, water, medical supplies and repair items.
In addition to those very necessary items, a properly prepared individual will have spent time thinking of the potential need for an insurance claim, Lilly & Brown suggests the following:
- MEET WITH YOUR INSURANCE AGENT to discuss your coverages. Make sure your policy addresses replacement of items and specifically lists items of great importance, such as a family heirloom.
- CONFIRM ANY NECESSARY INSURANCE RIDER EXISTS for jewelry or other valuables such as a gun or coin collection. A standard homeowner's policy will normally limit recover to a minimal amount without some type of insurance rider specifically listing such items.
- PREPARE A VIDEO SHOWING VALUABLES in the home, as well as furniture and other items that could be damaged, to use if you must present a claim to your homeowner's insurance.
- PREPARE A LIST OF ITEMS IN THE HOME with as much specificity as possible for a potential claim. The more information about the item (name, product number, where purchased and maybe a receipt) the more quickly your claim can be processed.
- AFTER A SEVERE STORM CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE AGENT to immediately to report any damage.
- KEEP EXTRA COPIES OF ALL IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS at a location separate from your home so you can retrieve them later, if necessary, to begin the process of recovery.
Many of us remember the storms that ravaged central Florida in 2004. Insurance companies were faced with millions of claims and a limited number of people to process them. The insurance companies did not inspect some homes for damage until after several storms had hit the area. Since insurance companies were unable to attribute damage independently to one storm or the other, some companies determined that their insured would be required to pay not just one deductible but potentially up to three. For most people this would have meant no repair or replacement of home or property as very few had funds available for such a large sum.
If a severe storm hits your area and you are lucky enough to escape unscathed, write a short letter to your insurance agent and keep a copy. Put the date on the letter and reference the storm. Let the agent know by mail, fax, and/or e-mail that you have suffered no damage due to the storm and no claim for you will be necessary. Keep confirmations to prove you sent it. This should provide the necessary proof to protect you if your homeowner's insurance company attempts to assess multiple deductibles against you.
If you have suffered property damage or loss due to a windstorm or hurricane, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced Florida hurricane damage attorney who can help you fight for the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact us today to schedule a FREE evaluation of your case.
Kent Lilly is Board Certified in Civil
Trial Advocacy by the Florida Bar
and has been selected to membership
of the Florida SuperLawyers and The
American Board of Trial Advocates