Hurricane Loss FAQs
- My home was damaged by a hurricane. What is my first step?
Contact representatives of all carriers insuring your home and confirm in a letter to them.
- I have to pay a deductible if I file a claim with my insurance company. Why can’t FEMA just help me?
FEMA cannot give money for items that insurance covers, as this would be considered a duplication of benefits. However, FEMA may be able to help with uncompensated losses or unmet needs not covered by your insurance company.
- Will FEMA pay my insurance deductible?
No. FEMA does not cover insurance deductibles.
- Should I make repairs to my damaged property or wait for the insurance adjuster?
You should make temporary repairs needed to prevent further damage only. The adjuster must see the damages to evaluate your loss. Take pictures of the damage and keep all of your receipts for materials used in emergency repairs. You should not dispose of any damaged property until the adjuster has completed his inspection.
- Who is responsible for clearing the debris from my property and is that covered under my policy?
It is your responsibility to have debris removed, although the city or county may offer to clear your property as part of a coordinated debris removal program. Coverage for debris removal depends on your policy’s specific wording.
- My home is uninhabitable. Will my insurance company pay for temporary housing?
Homeowners’ policies provide Additional Living Expense (“ALE”)/ Loss of Use (“LOU”) coverage that will pay extra expenses if damage to your home due to a loss by a covered peril prevents you from living there while it is being repaired. The items typically covered – above and beyond normal expenses – include extra costs for food, housing, transportation to and from work or school, relocation and storage, utility installation and furniture rental for a temporary residence. It does not cover your mortgage, groceries or utilities, since you normally pay for these expenses. This ALE/ LOU coverage applies only to differences in expenses. For example, the coverage would apply to the cost of restaurant meals minus normal food expenses. Be sure to check your policy to find out what is specifically covered. Florida law does not require your insurance company to pay ALE/ LOU up-front. For this reason, you must keep receipts for additional living expenses and submit these to your company for reimbursement. Unfortunately, some insurance companies seek to avoid paying ALE/ LOU coverage by decreeing that your home is livable even if it doesn’t have basic plumbing and electricity. If this happens, you should seek professional advice immediately. To reach our office, contact us by email or call 305-374-7974.
- What if I run out of ALE/ LOU coverage before my home is rebuilt?
Your policy probably has both a dollar and a time limit for ALE/ LOU benefits and, in general, your insurer will not extend the coverage beyond those limits. If your ALE/ LOU coverage is depleted before your home is rebuilt and the delay is the fault of the insurance company, you may wish to consult with an attorney to ensure your insurer continues to pay ALE/ LOU benefits until your home is completed. To reach our office, contact us by email or call 305-374-7974.
- How do I know which policy to file my claim under? I have a homeowners policy, a flood policy, and a windstorm policy.
File your claim with all three insurance companies. The adjuster or adjusters will take care of determining which policy covers your loss.
- Do I have to accept the apportionment made by the adjuster or adjusters?
No. You do not have to accept the apportionment made by the adjuster or adjusters. A practice widely utilized by the insurance industry is to use the same adjuster for both your wind and flood claims because how your losses are apportioned determines whether the loss is covered and the amount the insurance company must pay. If you have a situation like this, you need to consult with competent counsel or an experienced public adjuster. To reach our office, contact us by email or call 305-374-7974.
- Are there different types of adjusters working hurricane claims?
Yes and the majority represent the insurance companies’ bestinterest. After a hurricane, you will find the following adjusters in the field:
Public Adjuster – Licensed adjuster who works for you.
Company Adjuster – Licensed adjuster who is an employee of the insurance company.
Independent Adjuster – Licensed adjuster contracted to work for the insurance company.
Catastrophe (“Cat”) Adjuster – Licensed adjuster contracted to work for the insurance company.
Special Investigative Unit (“SIU”) Adjuster – Licensed adjuster who is contracted to work for the insurance company when your insurer suspects that you or someone associated with your claim has committed or attempted to commit fraud. In this event, you should immediately seek assistance of competent counsel. To reach our office, contact us by email or call 305-374-7974.
- I contacted my insurance company several weeks ago, but have not heard from anyone. What should I do?
Insurance companies have catastrophe plans and should be prepared for storms causing widespread damage. You may wish to consult with an attorney, a public adjuster, or both. To reach our office, contact us by email or call 305-374-7974.
- How long does the insurance company have to pay my claim?
According to Florida Statute 627.70131(5)(a), within 90 days after a company receives notice of a new, reopened or supplement property insurance claim, the company must pay or deny the claim or a portion of the claim unless the failure to pay the claim or a portion of the claim is caused by factors beyond the control of the company. Any payment (portion or entire claim) paid more than 90 days after the company receives notice of the claim, or paid more than 15 days after there are no longer factors beyond the control of the company, whichever is later, will bear interest according to Florida Statute 55.03. Furthermore, according to Florida Statute 626.9541(1)(i)4, it is also considered an unfair trade practice if the insurer fails to pay undisputed amounts of partial or full benefits owed under first-party residential property insurance policies within 90 days after determining the amount and agreeing to coverage, unless payment of the undisputed amount is prevented by an act of God, prevented by the impossibility of performance, or due to actions by the insured or claimant that constitute fraud, lack of cooperation, or intentional misrepresentation regarding the claim for which benefits are owed. If your insurance company is delaying the processing of your claim, please contact us by email or call 305-374-7974.
- Can attorney’s fees and costs be assessed against an insurance company for having to fight a valid claim that has been denied?
Yes. According to Florida Statute 624.155(4), an insurance company must pay the attorney’s fees and costs of an insured who prevails against their own insurance company. The purpose of the law is to encourage insurance companies to pay valid claims and to compensate insureds who must hire an attorney to enforce their rights under insurance contracts.
For additional answers to insurance questions please contact us by email or call 305-374-7974