After Your First Storm

After Your First Storm: Tips for New Florida Residents on Starting Hurricane Damage Claims

Florida is welcoming more new northern transplants than ever before, resulting in double-digit increases in both single-family home and condo/townhouse sales. Real estate professionals are pointing to the pandemic as motivation for many people living in high-taxed northern states making the move to save money and escape winter weather for good. 

Single-family home sales in October increased 24.4% to 4,800 in South Florida and sales of condos/townhouses increased to 24.6% to 4,411 compared to the same time last year, according to the Florida Realtors. Roughly 950 people are moving to Florida every day and 45% are headed to South Florida, according to the NY Times

While many are trading the cold and snow for warmth and sunshine, it’s essential for new Florida residents to prepare for a new weather issue: hurricanes. New homeowners need to also protect their property with hurricane insurance and know how to make a claim when necessary. 

Property damage claims soar during hurricane season (June 1-November 30) when storms impact our area. For example, we are currently working on claims in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, which damaged areas in the western Florida Panhandle including Pensacola and southern Alabama.

Well before hurricane season arrives, educate yourself about the dangers of hurricanes and create a disaster plan for your family. The Florida Division of Emergency Management and the National Hurricane Center are two valuable resources with tools and guides to help you get up to speed. 

Along with a disaster plan, we strongly urge anyone living in areas impacted by hurricanes to document their home assets with photos. Go around your home and take photos of everything of value, then save these photos in a safe place, like online cloud storage that you can access from anywhere with a password. Taking photos before a storm hits may help prove damages and defeat arguments from an insurance carrier regarding pre-existing damage.  

Handling Post-Hurricane Property Damage Claims

Don’t let a hurricane catch you off guard and know how to handle property damage insurance claims before experiencing your first big storm. Here are our tips for starting a property damage claim with your insurance company: 

  • Take photos of all damages to your property as soon as it is safe after the storm has passed. These will be compared to the photos you took before the storm to prove damages. 
  • Notify your insurance company of the damages and include your photos and documentation. 
  • If you feel unsafe in your home because of storm damage, talk to your insurance company about arranging temporary accommodations. 
  • Wait to make permanent repairs until after the claim professional handling the case with your insurance company has reviewed the damage, when possible. 
  • After you have an open claim, be sure to keep accurate records of any expenses related to the hurricane damage, including bills and receipts. 
  • Keep records of all communication with your insurance company, inspection reports, and repair companies. 
  • Save the contact information of your claim agent, inspectors, or estimators. 
  • Record damaged personal property in a list or spreadsheet that includes descriptions of the items, manufacturer/brand names, and date of purchase. 

Hurricane Insurance Claims Help

Hurricane insurance claims can quickly become complex after assessing the damage and hiring outside help can make a big difference in how your claim is handled. Public adjusters are limited in the options they have to handle claims and can only settle for amounts that an insurance company agrees to pay. 

An experienced legal team can analyze your insurance policy provisions and help guide you through the claims or supplemental claims process. Attorneys also have the power to represent you when negotiating with insurance companies and file lawsuits, if necessary. 

Level the playing field when dealing with insurance companies after a hurricane and call the team at Vishio Forry, PLLC to conduct a full and fair claim evaluation. We look forward to answering any questions, please call (239) 703-7210 or contact us online here

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