As life-long Floridians with extensive experience surviving the annual hurricane season, we know recovering from a storm is always stressful. After a hurricane has hit your home, the recovery and rebuilding process can be extensive. Many people in Florida are going through this process now after Hurricane Ian.
As we recover, our hearts go out to everyone affected across the state. Even though we are warned of pending storms and take precautions, recovering can be overwhelming, making getting back to normal seem impossible, but if you break the process down into these categories, cleanup, filing a claim, and hiring an attorney if necessary, the entire process can be more manageable.
Your safety is always the priority once you get home. So whether you evacuated or rode out the storm in place, ensure you follow these steps once the storm is over and you begin cleaning up:
- Be aware of loose or dangling power lines and stay away from them
- Check to see if your water has been contaminated before drinking or using tap water. Review local guidelines for boil water notices
- If the temperature in your refrigerator has risen above 40° F for two hours or longer, do not eat any food from it
- Stay out of any buildings surrounded by or flooded by water
- Be aware of loose tree branches, parts of buildings, or other types of debris that might fall and hurt you when you are outside
Depending on the damage your home or office received from the storm, the above-listed steps will help safely guide you like a seasoned hurricane survivor as you begin the cleanup process. But during the cleanup, you may find damage that will warrant filing a claim with your insurance company to repair.
Filing a Claim with Your Insurance Company
If your home or office requires significant repair, you must file an insurance claim with your provider. It is imperative not to begin these repairs before your insurance adjustor sees the damage. The following tips will help you organize your insurance claim process:
Contact Your Insurance Provider
It’s best to contact your insurance company soon as possible if you notice any damage to your property after the storm. They will work with you to develop a repair plan that complies with your insurance policy and safely returns your home to working order.
They can also get the ball rolling on reimbursing you for any losses like electronics, furniture, appliances, or other property that needs to be replaced because of storm damage.
Your insurance agent will also advise you on securing your property against further damage and removing any safety risks. For example, a pool is legally required to have a four-foot barrier to keep people (mainly children) out. If your fence or screened-in enclosure is no longer standing, you must install a temporary structure that meets specific guidelines.
Document the Damage by Taking Photos
Make sure you document all the damage to your property—the more details, the better your agent can assist you. It’s important to photograph each damaged item and list its estimated value, approximate date of purchase, and the type of damage sustained.
Ask Questions on How Repairs Will Be Handled
Ask any and all questions regarding the claims process, and do not feel silly for doing this, so talk with your insurer. They can assist you with the steps in this process and advise on temporary fixes you can do without jeopardizing your claim.
Keep Track of Expenses
Keep all receipts related to your insurance claim because they might be reimbursable through your policy.
Even the most experienced Floridian following the above-listed advice can have problems with their insurance provider while recovering after a hurricane and may realize that legal advice is needed to protect their interests.
Seek Out an Attorney
Unfortunately, scammers come out in droves after a catastrophic event taking advantage of inexperienced storm victims. In addition, some insurance companies may delay starting repairs which can negatively impact your claim.
In both instances, having an attorney on your side to assist you in this process can be a huge stress reducer and ensure that your best interests are a priority. An experienced hurricane attorney will weed through the scammers from the legit businesses and hold the insurance companies to their contractual obligations to get your life back together.
If you are struggling with getting your home or office on the road to recovery and rebuilding due to Hurricane Ian, contact Lopez & Humphries, PA today. We understand how disruptive the insurance claim process is and will be happy to assist. To contact us call 863-709-8500 or fill out our online contact form.