Hurricanes are massive tropical storms that have winds that can exceed 160 miles per hour and can drop trillions of gallons of rain in a single day. Hurricanes occur in the Atlantic basin. Similar storms in other geographical areas are called cyclones and typhoons.
Hurricanes hit Florida more than any other state in the U.S.A. In fact, during the last 500 years or so, Florida has been affected by nearly the same number of tropical and subtropical hurricanes. During the past 150 years or so, there have been only about 20 hurricane seasons that have passed without such storms impacting Florida. In the same period, there have been at least 35 major hurricanes that have made landfall in Florida with winds of category 3 status or greater.
Many of the most costly hurricanes affected Florida in some manner.
Your property insurance policy may require other obligations so it is important to read it carefully before and after a loss. Many of the obligations above involve sensitive matters which should be handled with great care. If you are confused or have questions, call The Law Offices of Donald M. Kreke at 305-669-0281.
Things to Do After Your Property Sustains Damage as a Result of a Hurricane
- Review your insurance policy or policies. Almost every homeowner’s insurance policy has a section outlining the homeowner’s obligations. Likewise, you should also review your flood insurance policy if you have one as hurricanes can cause significant flooding.
- Promptly report the hurricane loss to the insurance company.
- Record the damage by photographs or video.
- Protect your property from further loss or damage as a result of the hurricane.
- Show the insurance company the damaged property, and otherwise allow it to inspect the loss.
- Keep accurate records of expenditures for repairs to the damaged property (and provide them to the insurance company upon request) as a result of the hurricane.
- Provide a “sworn proof of loss” (a form outlining the amount you are claiming for the damage to your property) to the insurer for your hurricane claim, as required by the policy. Likewise, if your property sustained damage from flood, submit a proof of loss to your flood insurer. There are strict deadlines associated with such proofs of loss. As such, you should consult with an attorney.
- Give statements (sometimes called examinations under oath or “EUO’S”) to the insurance company regarding the loss as required by the policy.
How The Law Offices of Donald M. Kreke can Help You with Your Property Insurance Claim Caused by a Hurricane
Our office helps homeowners and business owners in all phases of the insurance claim process – from filing initial claims (or supplemental claims) to resolving claims through mediation, appraisal, or litigation. We assist individuals and business owners with the following.
- Reporting the loss and establishing claims. After an individual or business sustains a property loss, the insurer that insured the property at the time of the loss should be put on notice of the damage. Reporting the loss in a timely manner makes it more difficult for an insurer to argue that it has been prejudiced by late notice of a claim. When the claim is submitted, a representative from the insurer will usually issue a claim number for all future references to the damage and associated repairs.
- Coordinating and if needed, attending inspections of properties. It is very common for insurers to send adjusters or other consultants of various kinds to inspect the loss sustained to the insured property. Cooperating and coordinating these inspections with the insurer helps to prevent the insurer from arguing that it was prejudiced because it was not granted access or timely access to the loss location to inspect the damage.
- Completing and submitting sworn proofs of loss. At some point after receiving notification of a loss, insurers typically request that the insured provide a “Sworn Proof of Loss.” Generally, this is a one or two page document that requests very general information concerning the loss, including the amount of the loss (although that amount is not always known by the insured because the insured is usually does not have the expertise to how much damage has been sustained and how much such damage would cost to repair). As noted above, if you have a flood insurance policy, there are strict deadlines to submit your proof of loss for such coverage.
- Gathering, compiling, and submitting documents to insurers substantiating losses and repairs. Insurance companies commonly request that their insureds provide any and all documents related to the damage sustained to the property, and proof of repairs, etc.
- Attending and protecting the interests of insureds during examinations under oath (commonly referred to as an “EUO”) or recorded statements. Insurers often exercise their rights pursuant to insurance policies to take a “sworn statement” and/or recorded statement of the insured(s) (and others) regarding the loss.
- Litigating property insurance claims on behalf of insureds. At times, it is necessary to initiate a lawsuit against a property insurance company. In the event a lawsuit is filed, we will attempt to recovery of attorney’s fees and costs for our clients. See Fla. Stat. §§ 627.428; 626.9373; 631.70; 768.79; 624.155; 59.46; 57.104; and 627.351.
- Working with other professionals assisting insureds during the claims process. Often, it becomes necessary for an insured to employ the services of other professionals to help resolve a claim. Those professionals include public adjusters, experts, and consultants. Public adjusters are insurance professionals who are hired by insureds to evaluate the scope of the damage to the property, and to determine the cost to repair or replace the property. In doing so, they often provide a sophisticated estimate (similar to the estimates provided by the adjusters employed by the insurance companies) in support of the insured’s claim(s). Sometimes forensic experts and consultants are also retained by insureds to more accurately and fairly evaluate the insured’s losses.
- Attending and protecting the interests of insureds during pre-suit mediations. Florida has initiated a mediation program to assist with the resolution of property insurance claims. See Fla. Stat. § 627.7015; Fla. Admin. Code R. 69O-166.031; 69J-166.002; and 69J-166.031. Our office helps insureds initiate the request for mediation, coordinate the scheduling of the mediation, and attend the mediation with the insured.
- Invoking appraisal on behalf of insureds. When appropriate (and there is an appraisal clause in the insurance policy), we assist the insured in requesting an appraisal to determine the amount of the loss, and selecting an appraiser and umpire. At times, we also serve as the insured’s appraiser.
- Assisting insureds settle their property insurance claims (and flood insurance claims). Litigation is not always necessary. When possible, we attempt to secure a fair settlement on behalf of our clients. This often involves a sophisticated process of negotiation with an insurance company and its adjusters and/or attorneys.
- Filing Civil Remedy Notices of Insurer Violations (often referred to as “CRN’S”) on behalf of insureds. When factual and legal support exists to support a potential claim for bad faith insurance practices against the insurance company, we draft and file CRN’S with the Florida Department of Financial Services on behalf of our clients. This is often due to an insurer and its representatives unduly delaying the investigation and payment of a claim, unjustifiably denying a claim, or engaging in some other unfair practice as it relates to the handling of an insured’s claim.
Just because your hurricane claim has been denied does not mean that you cannot further pursue that claim. Our firm often handles claims that have been previously denied.
If your insurance company fails to fully pay your hurricane claim, or fails to adequately or accurately determine the scope of damages for your hurricane claim, you can file a supplemental or “re-opened” claim. Our office can assist you with the filing and handling of such claims.
Has Your Property Sustained Damage Due to a Hurricane that is Potentially Covered by a Property Insurance Policy? Has Your Insurance Claim Been Denied, Delayed, or Underpaid?
Call The Law Offices of Donald M. Kreke today for a free consultation regarding your property insurance claim. If you are unable to come to our office, we will come to see you.
Other Legal Matters Handled by The Law Offices of Donald M. Kreke
In addition to hurricane claims, The Law Offices of Donald M. Kreke handles other legal matters including: personal injury matters (including, but not limited to, truck crash claims, automobile accident claims, motorcycle wreck claims, boating collision claims, claims against cruise lines, premises liability claims, slip and fall accident claims, negligent security claims, dog bite claims, and defective products claims), other property insurance claims – both residential and commercial – and inception claims, and supplemental and re-open claims (including, but not limited, broken pipe claims, fire claims, flood claims, hail claims, mold claims, roof leak claims, sinkhole claims, storm claims, tornado claims, vandalism and theft claims, water claims, wind claims, loss of business income claims, and extra expense claims), bad faith insurance claims, property damage claims, collection matters, criminal defense matters, traffic offenses (including speeding tickets), claims against insurance brokers and/or agents, medical malpractice claims, nursing home claims and elderly abuse claims, and matters involving contract disputes. We also assist clients with reviewing and drafting contracts. If your legal issue or matter is not listed above, please contact us. We may be able to help.