Hurricanes are unfortunate for many people living on the Gulf Coast in Louisiana and Texas. When a hurricane strikes, your house and surrounding property are at risk for severe damage. It’s essential to know the coverage on your insurance policy and what steps are needed to file an insurance claim after a hurricane.
After a hurricane, an insurance claim process often includes securing an adjuster, documenting damages, and contacting your insurance agent. You need to know whether you have a general home owner’s policy or one that covers just hurricanes because this will dictate what kind of coverage you have.
Confirm How Long you Have to File a Claim
Usually, after a hurricane, named storm, or another natural disaster that affects a large area, homeowners have 180 days to file an insurance claim after the event. It is in your best interest to file as soon as possible to ensure that your claim is processed correctly. You need to confirm with the insurance company and review your policy to confirm the time frame to file a claim.
Ask How Long the Hurricane Claim Process Will Take
The insurance company will typically require documentation to process the hurricane claim. Claim documentation can include photos of the damage, an inventory of all damaged items, and a proof of loss statement. An insurance company typically has 30 days from when it receives documentation to provide a claim settlement offer, but the deadlines may change after a hurricane.
Know Your Policy Coverage and Limits
Policy coverage and policy limits will dictate many steps you’ll need to take to file an insurance claim after a hurricane. Confirm that you have coverage against hurricanes or named tropical storms before any steps are taken. You may need to file two claims: one hurricane claim and one flood damage claim.
In most cases, policies provide adequate coverage because they include an inflation-guard clause to keep up with increases in local building costs. This means that if you have replacement cost coverage, your insurance company will pay the total cost of repairing or replacing the damaged structure with a similar building. If your home is a total loss, then you may be able to rebuild a similar home with your coverage.
Estimate Your Claim and Check Your Deductible
A deductible is the amount of money you would have to pay before your insurance covers anything. For example, if your deductible is $1000, you would pay $1000 worth of damage. Depending on the policy limits, the insurance company would be responsible for the rest of the repair or replacement costs.
If you want to determine if your claim will exceed the deductible, you need to estimate how much it would cost for repairs or replacement. If you need to make repairs, it’s important to get repair estimates from contractors. You can also include these estimates in your documentation to increase your settlement offer.
Go Ahead and Make Temporary Repairs
It is critical to take immediate steps to protect your property from further damage, especially if you have experienced structural damage. Save receipts for what you spent and submit them to your insurance company. Your policy may cover temporary repairs, but there might not be enough settlement money left over for permanent repairs. Make sure to vet contractors who ask for a considerable amount upfront or give low bids. Don’t make extensive permanent repairs until the claims adjuster has assessed the damage.
Prepare for the Insurance Adjuster’s Visit
If your insurance company sends an adjuster to your home, be prepared to provide them with as much information and documentation as possible about the damage. The adjuster will likely want to see photos of the damage, so make sure to have them ready. It’s also helpful to have an inventory of all damaged items.
Your insurance agent or adjuster will provide you with a proof of loss form. Fill it out as accurately as possible so your claim can be processed quickly. You will have to provide a description of the damaged property, the date of purchase, and the replacement value.
How do insurance companies determine settlement amounts?
Settling insurance claims after a hurricane is determined in many different ways, but the most crucial part of any settlement is determining what does and does not qualify. Insurers typically require extensive documentation to process the claim. After a major disaster, it can take weeks or even months for them to evaluate your claim because of how overwhelmed they are with requests.
Insurance companies tend to give low settlement offers after major disasters like hurricanes. You do not have to accept the settlement terms they offer, so it is worth looking into additional options like calling an attorney to help you negotiate.
Does a standard homeowners policy cover hurricane damage?
No, typically hurricane damage is not covered by homeowners insurance policies. Insurance policies are different in how they handle hurricane damages. Check with your insurance agent about whether your insurance coverage includes property damage caused by a hurricane. Because hurricane damage can be so severe to a property, you may want to confirm that you have adequate flood damage coverage as well.
What is proof of loss?
When your agent sends you a proof of loss form, it’s important to fill it out as accurately as possible. Proof of loss documents the damages that have been sustained by your property or possessions during a hurricane. The proof of loss form usually asks for a description of the damaged property, the date of purchase, and the replacement value.
Proof of loss can be used to determine reimbursement amounts from an insurer after it has occurred. It’s often helpful to submit receipts when asking for reimbursement from an insurer so that they know that it will cost more than just when paying out the initial claims settlements. Having a detailed proof of loss document will help your claim process quickly and without any problems.
How much should my settlement be?
You can go ahead and start the claims process with your company while making repairs or replacements. We would recommend that you file additional supplemental claims as needed until your home has been restored to its pre-hurricane condition.
A fair settlement should be enough to cover the restoration of your property back to the original condition it was before the hurricane. If you believe the settlement offer is too low, you need to review your original documentation, talk to your adjuster, or file a dispute with the insurer.
Suspect Bad Faith? Call a Hurricane Damage Lawyer
Insurers typically require extensive documentation to process the claim especially if the home is a total loss and you need to supply new building costs. It can sometimes take weeks or even months for them to evaluate your claim because of how overwhelmed they are when dealing with hurricanes.
If you believe that your insurance company is unnecessarily delaying, denying, or underpaying your claim, call an experienced hurricane damage attorney today. At MIC Firm, we can help you get the compensation you deserve.