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Living in Florida comes with some amazing benefits. For most of the year, the weather here is hard to beat. However, homeowners and business owners in Florida need to be wary of the threat of hurricanes. These incredibly destructive forces of nature can level entire communities, let alone individual homes and businesses. This is why so many Florida homeowners make the wise choice of purchasing comprehensive home and flood insurance.

Unfortunately, some people find themselves the victims all over again when their insurance provider denies their storm damage claim. If this has happened to you or someone you know, please read on…

Do You Know What Your Home Insurance Actually Covers?

You’ve been diligent in making sure that you pay for your insurance on time. You understand the value that your policy has, especially considering the threat of hurricanes or other tropical storms here in Florida. Unfortunately, this won’t keep your insurance company from trying to pay you as little as possible, or avoid addressing the claim all together.

Here in Florida, hurricane season typically lasts from the beginning of June until the end of November. According to the National Hurricane Center, there are on average two major hurricanes and 11.8 named storms each year.

If your home or business is located on the water or in an area that is particularly susceptible to flooding, It’s important to know exactly what your insurance policy covers. You should also be knowledgeable of the steps that need to be taken in the event that your property is damaged during a storm.

Home with good home insurance in Tampa, FL

Has your home or business been damaged in a hurricane or another type of storm? Do you feel like you are being victimized by your insurance provider? If you have had your claim denied, then our experienced Insurance claim lawyers can help. Contact Busciglio & Sheridan Law Group in Tampa to schedule a consultation.

Specifics for Florida Home Insurance Policies

Did you know that there is no such thing as “hurricane insurance?” Most homeowner insurance policies cover against wind damage and a flood insurance policy is something that would be purchased separately.

In Florida specifically, a standard homeowners policy would cover against roof or siding damage caused by high winds from a hurricane or tropical storm. There’s also a special deductible for hurricane damage here in Florida. It’s a fixed percentage that’s based on the amount of the entire policy. The hurricane deductible must be met before your insurance company would start paying for the damage to your home.

If this information creates additional questions in your mind, that’s entirely the point. Insurance providers like uncertainty and they will use it to undermine claims and get out of paying for damages. After a hurricane, your insurance company will probably be faced with a deluge of customers filing claims. They will do everything in their power to limit the amount of money that they need to pay out in this situation.

This is why we urge you to thoroughly review your homeowner’s insurance policy now. If you don’t know exactly what is covered on your policy, then you could make it easier for insurance company to take advantage of you.

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What Kind of Damage Can a Hurricane Inflict on Your Tampa Home?

Hurricanes are one of the strongest forces that Mother Nature can throw at us. A neighborhood that has been hit by hurricane doesn’t stand much of a chance. Forceful winds can rip up roofs, bring down power lines, uproot trees and mangle traffic signs.

The threat to your property is dependent on the overall strength of the hurricane. If you have been living in Florida for an extended amount of time, then you’re probably familiar with the category numbering system given to hurricanes. Categories range from 1 up to 5 depending on the strength of the hurricane’s wind speed.

Category 1 hurricane approaching St. Petersburg homes on coast

Category 1 Hurricanes

With wind gusts exceeding 74 miles per hour, even a category 1 hurricane poses a serious risk to your home. Category 1 storms are strong enough to damage gutters, proves and sidings. These weaker hurricanes can also a fruit trees that have shallow roots and snap off larger branches from bigger tree. Power outages and downed power lines are also common.

Category 2 Hurricanes

Storms in this category have wind gusts that can exceed 96 mph. These stronger hurricanes can cause significant roof and siding damage to homes, in addition to uprooting trees and damaging power lines.

Category 2 hurricane approaching St. Petersburg Businesses on coast
Category 3 hurricane approaching St. Petersburg home on coast

Category 3 Hurricanes

Category 3 hurricanes produce wind gusts that exceed 111 mph. At the speeds, these storms can cause significantly more damage to communities and homes. Trees that have deeper roots can be uprooted and utilities will likely be interrupted.

Category 4 Hurricanes

Now we’re really getting into some scary territory.  Category 4 hurricanes produce wind gusts that exceed 131 mph and this can cause severe damage to homes and local structures. Storms of this strength can topple exterior walls and uproot roofs completely. Trees will be uprooted and  entire power poles can be brought down.

Category 4 hurricane approaching Tampa businesses along coast

Category 5 Hurricanes

At the very top of the food chain, Category 5 Hurricanes produce wind gusts that exceed 155 mph. Fortunately, only three storms of this magnitude have ever made landfall here in the United States. It goes without saying that with wind speeds of this magnitude, even very well built homes don’t stand a chance.

Don’t Forget About The Rain

In addition to very dangerous wind speeds, hurricanes also produce a lot of rain. Storms are capable of dropping several feet of rain very rapidly. With rain, the slower moving hurricanes pose the greatest threat. Remember what happened to Houston when hurricane Harvey hit in 2017? That storm dumped over 50 inches of rain on communities in the area and caused catastrophic flood damage.

Steps Homeowners Should Take After a Hurricane or Tropical Storm

The reality is that no amount of preparation can protect a home from a strong enough storm. This is something that homeowners in Tampa and St Petersburg should be aware of. If your home is damaged in a hurricane, these are the next steps that our insurance claim lawyer recommends that you take.

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Tampa home covered by tarp after hurricane

Cover Up Damaged Property

We recommend taking a tarp or similar material and covering up any parts of the property that have sustained damage. This will help prevent further water intrusion and resulting damages. It’s a critical step, because insurance companies are looking for any reason possible to avoid paying your claim. Shockingly, our legal team has seen instances where insurance providers refused to pay, because they argued that damages were exacerbated after the storm due to homeowner negligence.

Carefully Document Everything

This is very similar to our recommendation for car accident victims who want to talk to a personal injury attorney in Tampa. After the storm has passed, take pictures of the property.

Make sure that you have captured every part of the house and don’t forget to take photos showing the extent of damage to your yard. After you have captured the entire scene outside, next go inside and take pictures of every single room in the house. You need to be thorough here and we recommend taking pictures of individual items and their placement within the home.

A thorough photographic record like this is an important piece of evidence when it comes to proving the losses that you have filed an insurance claim for. We also recommend compiling a inventory of any damaged property that you can identify.

Woman takes pictures of damage to her home for her insurance claim
Confirmation that insurance provider has received storm damage insurance claim in Florida

File Your Claim ASAP

If you have ever had to file Insurance claim before, then you know that claims should be filed as soon as possible after the incident. If you wait to file a claim after a hurricane, then you are doing yourself a serious disservice. Remember that your insurance company is probably facing many other claims just like yours and they are going to be looking for any weaknesses they can exploit. Promptly record everything you can after the storm and file your claim ASAP.

Strategies Insurance Companies May Use to Avoid Paying For Storm Damages

Following a hurricane or another destructive storm, an insurance company may use any of the following tactics in order to get out of paying for your damages:

  • They may start out by denying you even have insurance coverage with them.
  • They might try to deny your claim because some aspect of it is excluded under your homeowners policy.
  • They might try to mislead you or make false statements to foster uncertainty.
  • Processing of the claim may be delayed.
  • They might try to lowball you with an undervalued estimate and offer.
  • They’ll attempt to discourage you from seeking the services of an insurance claims attorney.
  • An insurance company may try to force you to settle your claim under a different form of policy coverage.

If any of these sound familiar, or you are in a full dispute with your insurance carrier, trying to handle the situation on your own can be extremely challenging. Not many families have the money in their savings to cover these repairs on their own. Additionally, these insurance companies employ skilled teams devoted to undermining claims like yours. Odds are that you’ll incur even more financial burdens trying to fight them on your own.

If your insurance provider is trying to get out of paying for your damages to your home, then you should consider contacting an insurance claims lawyer. Schedule a consultation with Marie Schoeb and she’ll show you what she can do to keep your insurance provider accountable.

Call us at (813) 225-2695 or complete our consultation form