On April 12, 2023, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Dania Beach, and the surrounding areas were inundated with 26 inches of rain in what has been called a 1000 year rain event. The rain caused numerous people to be stranded, homes to be flooded, and substantial damage to numerous automobiles. Broward County schools were closed for multiple days and for several days stalled cars blocked roads and highways. In short, it was chaos for everyone.
Within one-week of the storm, the City of Fort Lauderdale reported that more than one-thousand homes had sustained significant damage through a combination of water intrusion and flooding. Other parts of the region are being inspected to determine the extent of damage. Initial estimates of total damage exceeded 100 million; however, the full cost of the damage will likely take some time to estimate. However, it is clear that it was an event that impacted many.
For homeowners who have sustained damage, the path to recovery is just beginning. FEMA is currently investigating the damage and Governor DeSantis has requested that the federal government declare Broward County a disaster area.
Without FEMA assistance, homeowners will be reliant exclusively on private insurance and federally-subsidized flood insurance to pay for losses. If FEMA declares the flooding event to be a disaster, homeowners may receive grants or take out SBA loans to assist with the rebuilding effort.
Florida Changes to Insurance Laws to Come Into Play
As many Floidians are aware, the insurance claim process has become more complicated in light of the insolvency of many private insurance companies as well as new legislation aimed at preventing recovery of attorney’s fees by policyholders whose claims have been underpaid, delayed, or wrongfully denied. However, the still law provides several avenues to recover attorney’s fees and other damages for underpaid, delayed, or denied claims. The assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable insurance recovery attorney is crucial if you are unable to obtain a fair settlement from your insurance company.
Sadly, many with insurance issued by through the National Flood Insurance Program or through a Write Your Own carrier will learn that flood insurers cannot be found forced to pay attorney’s fees for underpaid or wrongfully denied claims. Federal law provides additional protections to the NFIP OR flood insurance companies subsidized by the federal goverment. Still, we have had success in obtaining settlements doubling and tripling the initial payment made by flood insurance.
Tips for Making Your Claim
If you sustained damage as a result of the historic floods that impacted Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding areas, it is important for you to take action so that you can rebuild. The first step is understanding what insurance coverage you have available so claims may be made. For many, flood insurance will be a critical part of the equation. However, not everyone in impacted areas carried flood insurance. The FEMA grant and SBA process will be critically important in remediating and repairing the flood damage. We will provide more information on this process as information is released.
Many homeowners are also learning that they sustained roof damage or other damage from wind-driven rain during the rain event. It is not uncommon to discover leaky roofs and water intrusion following historic rains. Homeowner’s insurance provides coverage for damage caused by the peril of rain or water intrusion. It is expected that many homeowner’s carriers will attempt to exclude most if not all claimed damages on the grounds that the damages was caused by flooding. While homeowner’s insurance does exclude flood damage, it is important to recognize that the damage caused by rainwater intrusion is covered. If your home sustained a combination of flood and rain damage, the assistance of qualified professionals to distinguish the different types of damage is important.
If making an insurance claim, it is important to obtain a detailed estimate of the damage and to document any losses through pictures. Without proper evidence, an insurance company is more likely to contest a valid claim. Even when a claim is fully documented, insurance companies often push back against valid claims. Because of this, it is important to ensure that any repair estimates are incredibly detailed and explain why the claim must be paid.
Johns Law Group has an office in Broward County and has assisted owners of both residential and commercial properties seeking to recover from numerous past weather-related events. We can fully evaluate your damages to present a fully-documented claim to the insurance company. Also, if you have made a claim, we can help you recover the full value of your claim. If you have questions, or would like to schedule a free no obligation consultation, call today at (866) 970-0977.