Now that the hurricane is gone, it is time to start picking up the pieces. Here are the steps to follow when filing a claim after Hurricane Ian or any other Florida hurricane.
Document the Damage
The first step is staying calm and setting realistic expectations. It may seem overwhelming initially, but it will eventually all come together. Next, begin documenting all the damage. This means taking photos of everything, including the roof and outside the home and inside the home. Show how high up the water went if your home was flooded. Even better if you have photos available of everything pre-storm so the insurance company has a fair comparison.
File an Insurance Claim
Next, contact your insurance company as soon as you can. You can call or see if the company has an online portal you can use to file your claim. After a storm, the insurance company may be overwhelmed and flooded with phone calls, so be patient. While waiting to hear back from them, you can review your insurance policy and ensure you and your family are taken care of.
According to Florida statute 627.70132, you have up to three years to file your property insurance claim after the hurricane. However, it is best to file your claim as soon as possible. If there is any kind of dispute with the insurance company, you want to have time to fight them for the compensation you are entitled to from your claim for all storm damage, including water and flood damage.
Review Insurance Policy
Many homeowners aren’t aware of what is listed in their insurance policy and are surprised when they find out something isn’t covered. Many policies also state that it is up to the homeowner to protect whatever is left the best you can.
Early cleanup is necessary to prevent any further damage from occurring. If the roof is leaking, cover it with a tarp. If you have broken windows or doors, make sure to board them up.
Gather the debris in the yard the best you can and mop up water and dry out items to help prevent mold. This can also save you money later on because you are stopping further damage from happening.
Keep All Receipts
Many homeowners insurance policies include provisions for additional living expenses resulting from loss of use of a property. This is when the home is deemed uninhabitable until the repairs are complete.
Under the loss of use coverage, hotel costs or rental expenses may be covered, depending on how long the repairs take. It can also cover dining out if your kitchen is out of commission. Keep all your receipts to show the insurance company and pay with a credit card when possible to keep everything more organized and itemized.
When to Consult With an Attorney
Storm claims can sometimes be complicated and frustrating, so having an experienced attorney on your side is beneficial. The attorney can help with the insurance adjusters while also handling your storm claim to get you more money from the settlement.