Hurricane Things to Know When Filing Your Claim

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Hurricane Claims

Unquestionably, hurricanes are Florida's top insurance concern dollar wise. Their high winds and storm surges cause widespread destruction, and the collective claims figures can reach into the billions of dollars. Because of this, insurance companies have worked hard to limit their liability. Here's what you need to know if you need to file an insurance claim:

  • Named Storms have higher deductibles
  • Flooding often accompanies wind damage
  • You may incur damage after the storm
  • Look for invisible damage

  • What is Your Hurricane Deductible?

    To reduce their liability in a hurricane, insurance companies write separate deductibles into their policies for named storms. These deductibles are much higher than the standard deductible, often 5% of the value of your structure. For some insurance companies, the higher deductibles take effect as soon as storm winds reach hurricane strength - 74 mph. For other companies, the windstorm deductible takes affect as soon as the storm is named, that means tropical storms and depressions fall into this category. If you suffer damage during a hurricane or named storm, you may be responsible for the first several thousands of dollars worth of damage before your insurance benefits kick in.

    Flooding is Handled Separately

    In coastal regions, the biggest threat from a hurricane is flooding, but flooding isn't even covered by your homeowners' insurance. To protect yourself from flooding, you need a separate flood policy. If you suffer wind damage and flood damage during a hurricane, you will have to file two claims and deal with two insurance adjusters. Each adjuster will likely try to minimize the estimate of damage caused by their part of the disaster, and you'll be caught in the middle.

    Damage After the Storm

    After your property has been damaged, it is your responsibility to take reasonable efforts to secure your property, such as boarding up broken windows and placing tarps over leaking roofs. However, despite your reasonable efforts, subsequent storms may inflict further damage to your home, damage that wouldn't have happened if the property hadn't been previously compromised. In such a case, the proximate cause of the additional damage was the original hurricane, and the new damages will be added to your original claim.

    Invisible Damage

    Just because you can't see the damage doesn't mean its not there. The high winds and pressure differentials resulting from a hurricane can put tremendous strains on your house. Without you knowing it, the hurricane could have compromised the structural integrity of the roof, trusses, walls - even your windows and doors. If you endured a hurricane, before you decide not to file a claim, consider having your home inspected by a licensed professional structural engineer who is familiar with assessing wind damage.

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