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Why Would Your Insurer Deny Your Florida Storm Damage Claims?

Whether you believe climate change is real or not, one thing all SW Florida residents can agree on is that storm damage is increasing, and so is the cost of recovery. Major hurricanes, such as the recent Hurricane Ian, have increased in frequency, and urban centers like Fort Myers and Port Charlotte are often in the path.

Fortunately, SW Florida residents have a safety net in the form of property insurance. Whether it’s a residential property you live in or a commercial property you do your business from, property insurance provides financial aid when facing substantial accident damage.

At least, that’s the theory. In reality, there are times when, despite paying monthly premiums, an insurance company may either pay less than the damages you claimed or, in some instances, deny the claim outright. But why would this happen if you have been paying premiums and the damage is from a storm?

Claim Wasn’t Made In Time

There is a definite timing window on when insurance companies will accept claims for property damage. General property damage has a more generous window of four years, but when it comes to storm damage, such as hurricanes, this statute of limitations is cut in half. Hurricane damage must be reported within two years of the loss.

If a claim is made after this period has expired, the insurance company is within its legal rights to deny a claim, even if that damage legally falls under what the policy covers.

Claim Falls Outside The Policy Terms

A denial due to policy exclusion can take place in a few ways. The most obvious—but easy to overlook—is not being aware of the “fine print” in a policy. For example, suppose your property was damaged not by the hurricane but by flooding that resulted later. In that case, the insurance company may deny the claim because you don’t have flood insurance, which was the cause of your damage.

In other cases, an insurance company may try to claim that the damage caused to property was not due to the storm itself, which the policy covered, but by a pre-existing issue, which the policy did not cover. For example, you bought a home with a foundation already documented to have problems, and you choose to ignore this and not conduct a foundation repair. An insurance company may try to claim that the unaddressed foundation issue caused the damage, not the hurricane, and, had you repaired the foundation; the damage would not have occurred.

Damage Claim Is Not Accurate

One of the most common ways that an insurance company will not outright deny a claim but offer lower compensation than expected is to assert that the damage you are filing is incorrect. They will then provide their own damage assessment, typically accompanied by a lower amount of compensation than what you need to conduct repairs.

This often happens due to a report from an insurance adjuster—an investigator working for the insurance company—filing results that oppose your own findings. This is one of the reasons why documenting the damage with proof, such as photos and video, can be important to protecting the integrity of your insurance claims.

In other circumstances, the insurance company may even be correct, as with Florida roofers. Unfortunately, the Florida roofing industry is notorious for roofers exaggerating the damage to a roof to claim the money provided by insurance without informing the property owners of the true, minimal extent of the damage, thus scamming both the property owners and the insurance company.

This is why if you want to dispute the statements made by an insurance company, or you want to ensure that your own claim is accurate and you’ll receive the amount you know you are entitled to, you should talk to a storm damage attorney.

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