Hurricanes often leave both property and financial devastation in their wake. Research conducted by financial service company CoreLogic found that 2022’s Hurricane Ian caused between $41 and $70 billion in storm damage to homes and businesses.
Once the hurricane has passed, property owners must deal with another challenge: trying to obtain settlements from an often-stingy insurance company. If you file a property damage claim, you may experience delays or denials, leaving you without the funds to restore your home.
Working with an attorney can help you get a fair settlement for your property damage, but it isn’t always clear when to reach out for legal representation. Learn when to hire a hurricane damage attorney and how Nessler & Associates can help you manage your property damage claim.
You Suffered Severe Property Damage
If you return to your property after a hurricane and find it uninhabitable, you can benefit from hiring a property damage attorney. You must file a large claim when your property suffers extensive damage in a hurricane.
Your insurance company will likely conduct a thorough investigation before paying the claim, so you must ensure you properly document the damage and submit the correct paperwork.
Hiring an attorney ensures you don’t miss important deadlines and collect the required evidence for your claim. Legal representation increases your chances of receiving the maximum payout possible rather than a lowball settlement.
Your Insurance is Delaying Your Claim
In addition to filing deadlines in your policy, every state has a statute of limitations (i.e., a deadline) for a property damage claim. In Florida, you have four years to file a claim, while in Texas, you have two years.
If an insurance company doesn’t want to pay you a settlement, they may delay handling your claim until your policy deadlines or the statute of limitations passes, allowing them to say you don’t have a valid claim.
However, this unethical practice is illegal in many states, including Florida. If your insurance company delays your claim, an attorney can threaten them with legal action for not addressing it promptly. This action can force insurance to process your claim more quickly, or you can potentially sue for damages for unlawful conduct.
Insurance Denies Your Claim
There are many reasons why your insurance company may deny your claim. For example, you may lack relevant documentation or records requested by the company. Most insurance companies require the following to settle a claim:
- Approximate date and time of the damage
- Records of what was damaged: a description of each object or damaged property, its approximate value, how many were damaged, etc.
- Serial numbers where relevant (e.g., home appliances, electronic devices)
- Receipts or contracts related to the purchase
- Value appraisals
Without this information, your insurance company may deny your claim. For instance, insurance may refuse to cover if you don’t have a receipt for a TV damaged in the hurricane.
Similarly, most insurance policies exclude certain types of damage from coverage, including damage caused by natural disasters. While many insurance companies will cover wind damage from hurricanes, they will not cover other damage like water damage. (For example, if the hurricane flooded your house and knocked a power line onto your roof, your insurance might only cover the damage from the power line.)
Insurance companies can also use bad-faith tactics to deny your claim. A bad-faith insurance company may deny your claim without providing a reason or refuse to offer a settlement for damage covered by your policy. Neither of these are allowed under Florida law.
If your home is damaged and your insurance denies your claim for any reason, an attorney can help you appeal it. They can also review your insurance policy with you and determine how to negotiate with your adjuster to get the best settlement from your claim.
You’re Getting Offers from Public Adjusters
After a widespread disaster like a hurricane, you’ll likely begin receiving solicitations from public insurance adjusters. Unlike claims adjusters from your homeowners’ insurance, public insurance adjusters are less likely to work with specific insurance companies. Their lack of affiliation with private insurance makes them less likely to undervalue your property or unfairly deny your claim.
However, public adjusters may have undisclosed relationships with independent contractors who estimate the value of damaged property or perform repairs. Since these adjusters and contractors will receive a portion of your settlement as a fee, they may deliberately overestimate the value or cost of damage and repairs to get a larger payment.
A property damage attorney can locate a trustworthy adjuster and help you get independent, accurate assessments.
Nessler & Associates Can Handle Your Hurricane Damage Claim
If you’re looking for a law firm to handle your property damage claim, Nessler & Associates can help. Our attorneys will readily review your policies, obtain the necessary documentation, handle filing deadlines, and negotiate with your insurance adjuster on your behalf.
To help our clients facing financial difficulties, we offer free case evaluations through our no-fee guarantee. This approach ensures that you don’t owe us anything unless we settle your case. We also handle personal injury cases; if another property’s negligence results in bodily injury to you or a loved one.
Call us at (800) 727-8010 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation today.