Although Florida boasts a thriving and diverse population, beautiful nature preserves, and interesting sights, it is also known for its devastating summer hurricanes. Many Florida homeowners diligently prepare for this eventuality, but hurricanes still cause devastating property damage on a regular basis. Obtaining the appropriate insurance coverage is key to hurricane preparation as it gives policyholders the opportunity to bring first party insurance claims, where relief must be paid directly to the homeowner, against their insurers.
How to File a First Party Insurance Claim
Policyholders should have a good idea of what damage is covered under their policy before an emergency occurs. In most cases, the following hurricane-related damage is covered by homeowners’ insurance:
- Damage to the home;
- Damage to other structures on the property;
- Damage to the contents of the home, including personal belongings; and
- The loss of the use of the home if the damage has rendered it uninhabitable.
Once a hurricane has occurred, homeowners who suffered damage to their property should immediately file a first party insurance claim with their agent. Each policy usually has instructions listing the insured’s duties after sustaining property damage, but generally policyholders are encouraged to file a claim as quickly as possible that contains the following information in writing:
- The insured’s name and address;
- The policy number;
- The date and time that the damage occurred; and
- A brief description of the event, including whether emergency responders were involved.
It is also important to document the extent and severity of the damage to the property by taking photographs of damage to the home’s structure as well as its contents before any repairs are made. Homeowners are also usually required to make temporary emergency repairs to prevent further damage, so it is important for policyholders to keep all receipts for material and labor used in the repairs.
Once the claim has been received, the insurance company will send an adjuster to inspect the property and provide an estimated valuation. To ensure that the adjuster’s reporting was accurate, policyholders should assemble a list of ruined or damaged items, including estimated values. Hiring a contractor to provide an outside appraisal can also help a policyholder gauge the accuracy of the adjuster’s claim.
While many insurers quickly and fairly compensate policyholders, others attempt to decrease the amount they must pay by improperly calculating deductibles or underestimating the extent and value of the damage. For this reason, it is important to have the advice of an experienced insurance attorney who can guide the policyholder through the claims process.
Contact an Experienced Insurance Litigation Attorney Today
Having the advice of an attorney from the very first stages of filing an insurance claim can be invaluable in the long-term. At Charlip Law Group, LC our experienced insurance attorneys can help you file the initial paperwork with your insurer or negotiate a settlement if there is a disagreement about the valuation. If an insurer demonstrates bad faith and refuses to compensate you, we can also represent your interests in court.
If you live in North Miami and suffered property damage during a hurricane, please contact Charlip Law Group, LC by calling (305) 354-9313, and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule an initial consultation.