June through November is the Atlantic hurricane season. Property owners, especially those in coastal states, pay close attention to the weather forecast whenever a meteorologist says that there is a tropical disturbance in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico. They ask themselves:
- Is this the one?
- Am I prepared?
- Where am I going to go?
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 then contact 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 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 and/or jury 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 photographs or video recordings of the damages are often ignored, or given very little credibility, if they don’t substantiate what you are trying to show them.
- Communicate with your insurer via email whenever possible. Email ensures that there is an exact record of what you and your insurer’s representative actually discussed. Insurance company adjusters are trained to take notes when you speak with them. Their notes go into your claim file. They do not share their notes with you. They take down their notes outside of your presence. Their notes are based entirely on their own subjective recollection and interpretation of your conversation. It is not uncommon that the insurance company’s version of your conversation with one of its representatives is considerably different than your recollection of the conversation. It is also not uncommon that it will use those notes against you down the line.
- Take your own notes. It is inevitable that at some point after you notify your insurer of your hurricane damages, they will want to speak to you. When you do speak with them, take your own notes. Make 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 that if you are ever asked about your conversations’ months or years later, they will help you refresh your recollection so that you will be able to accurately communicate the details of those conversations.
- Be organized. As soon as you file a hurricane claim, your insurer will ask you for proof of your damages, proof of any out-of-pocket expenses, plus proof of virtually anything else associated with your claim. 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 everything related to your hurricane claim so you are able to provide those items on a timely basis.
Contact our Hurricane Damage Attorneys Today
Hurricanes send insurance companies into a panic. They can dramatically affect their ‘bottom-line’. Insurance company adjusters inevitably get overwhelmed by the sheer number of claims filed by their policyholders who are demanding to be paid immediately. Adjusters arrive from all over the country; many of them without any hurricane experience. It is not uncommon that they are given a one- or two-day crash-course on how to adjust a hurricane claim. History has shown that circumstances such as these often lead to legitimate 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.