June through November is the Atlantic hurricane season. When meteorologists forecast or identify tropical disturbances in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico, property owners, especially those in coastal states, pay close attention. They ask themselves:
- Is this the one?
- Am I prepared?
- Where am I going to go if I have to evacuate?
Hurricanes are devastating. Hurricane-force winds, sometimes exceeding 150 mph, can destroy even the sturdiest of structures. If you are in the projected path of a hurricane, your first priority is to make sure that everybody is safe. After the hurricane passes, you inspect your property, assess it for any damage, and immediately start contacting roofers, plumbers, general contractors, electricians, water remediation companies, public adjusters, plus anybody else who can assist you with the recovery process.
Here are a few helpful tips that will help you protect the integrity of your insurance claim and also expedite the process:
- Document the damages extensively. Take plenty of photographs and videos. Time and safety considerations permitting, take “before” photographs and video recordings of your property. In order to reduce claims payouts, insurance companies routinely allege that some of the damages pre-existed the storm. There is no better way to prove that the damages were not pre-existing than to provide your insurer with photographs and video’s that pre-date the storm. After the hurricane has passed and it is safe to do so, take “after” photographs of the damages as soon as possible. Make sure that there is plenty of lighting so as to ensure that the damages are easily visible. Your goal is to clearly show the full scope and extent of the damages to your property. If for any reason your claim ends up in court, a judge, jury, or arbitration panel will be carefully reviewing your photographs and videos. They will be the ones deciding if you are entitled to be paid for those damages. You want to leave no doubt in their minds. Grainy, blurry, and/or dark-shadowed photographs or video recordings of the damages are often ignored or given very little credibility if they don’t clearly demonstrate the damages.
- Email your insurer whenever it is reasonable and possible to do so. Emails ensure that there is an exact record of what you and your insurer’s representative actually discussed. Insurance company adjusters are trained to always take notes when you speak to them. They take down their notes outside of your presence. They place their notes into your claim file. They do not share their notes with you. Their notes are based entirely on their own subjective recollection and interpretation of your conversation. It is not uncommon that your insurance company’s version of an in-person or telephone conversation that you had with one of its adjusters or representatives is considerably different than how you remember the conversation. It is also not uncommon that your insurer will attempt to use those same notes against you at some point in the future. Emails remove all doubt.
- Take your own notes. Inevitably, there will be times when you speak directly to an adjuster or another insurance company representative. Whenever you do, take down your own notes. Be sure to memorialize the following information: (i) the person’s first and last name, (ii) the date, time, and duration of your conversation, and (iii) what you talked about. Your notes do not have to be extensive, but they should contain enough information so as to describe the sum and substance of your conversation. The purpose of you taking down notes of your conversation(s) is simple and straightforward; if you are ever asked about those conversation(s) months or years later, you can review your notes and they will refresh your recollection. In the context of an insurance claim, it is very important that you accurately communicate what you actually talked about as opposed to what your insurance company is attributing to you.
- Be organized. Soon after you file a hurricane claim, more likely than not your insurer will ask you for proof of your damages, proof of any out-of-pocket expenses, plus proof of virtually anything else that could possibly be associated with the hurricane. This includes, but is not limited to, invoices, receipts, contracts, lease agreements, emails and correspondence, estimates, reports, copies of checks, photographs, and video recordings. Being organized allows you to quickly access items related to your hurricane claim so you are able to respond to your insurer and provide them with requested items in a timely manner.
Contact our Hurricane Damage Attorneys Today
Hurricanes send insurance companies into a panic. They can dramatically affect their “bottom line”. Because of the vast number of policyholders who have historically filed damage claims almost immediately after a hurricane, insurance companies routinely hire temporary independent adjusters brought in from all over the country to assist them with adjusting these claims. Unfortunately, many of these adjusters do not have any hurricane adjusting experience. Other adjusters are simply overwhelmed by the demands placed on them and do not have the time it takes to properly inspect and adjust hurricane claims. It is not uncommon that they are given a one- or two-day crash course on how to adjust a hurricane claim, and then they are immediately sent out into the field to start adjusting policyholders’ claims. History has shown that circumstances such as these often lead to claims being mishandled, delayed, or wrongfully denied. Kubiak Law Group understands the law, your insurance policy, and the rules and regulations as they pertain to hurricane claims. We have the experience, knowledge, and resources required to fight insurance companies to protect your rights.
We offer free consultations, the same day return of calls and emails, and 24/7/365 availability. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and learn how we can help with your insurance claim.