Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, came ashore at Cudjoe Key, 20 miles north of Key West, on September 10th, drenching the Florida Keys with 12 inches of rain and a 12-foot storm surge.
By the time Irma left the state, millions in central Florida were without power and thousands of homes and businesses had been destroyed or heavily damaged. At least 93 deaths were attributed to the storm.
More than 750,800 residential property owners and 55, 373 businesses have since filed property claims with their insurers in the wake of the historic storm. Months later, thousands of these claims remain open, while many other policyholders have seen their claims wrongly denied or underpaid.
Unfortunately, our experience representing Florida policyholders for more than 40 years has shown that insurance companies are often more concerned with limiting their own losses than fairly adjusting their policyholders’ claims.
Hurricane Irma Insurance Claims: What’s Covered?
Most homeowners and businesses in Florida purchase insurance policies that cover hurricane and storm damage. Depending on their terms, these policies may provide payment for:
• Storm surge
• Wind damage
• Water penetration
• Roof damage
• Mold remediation
• Business interruption
In Florida, a typical property insurance policy will cover damage to the structure and its contents, including damage from wind. However, a special deductible (equal to a fixed percentage based on the amount of the entire policy) must be met before the insurer will pay for any hurricane-related wind damage.
A standard home or business insurance policy will not cover flood damage, including damage related to Hurricane Irma’s storm surge. You must have purchased separate flood insurance through the National Insurance Program (NFIP) in order to receive compensation for flood damage related to the storm.
What if the Insurance Company Denies, Delays or Lowballs a Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim?
As of November 13, 2017, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) reported that total estimated insured losses related to Hurricane Irma stood at more than $5.8 billion. The state-run insurer of last resort, Citizens, said it expected to incur $1.2 billion in insured losses as a result of the storm.
Insurance companies will be looking to limit their liability in the wake of Hurricane Irma. So, don’t be surprised if they or their adjusters engage in questionable tactics to deny, delay or lowball your claim.
You may need an attorney if your insurer has attempted any of the following during the claims process:
• Wrongly denied that your policy covers the loss.
• Wrongly states that your claim is excluded or partially excluded under your policy.
• Denies any part of your claim.
• Delays the processing, adjustment, or payment of your claim.
• Made misleading or false statements in connection with your claim.
• Presents you with undervalued estimates, offer or payments.
• Discourages you from retaining a lawyer to resolve the claim.
• Requires a written release of any supplemental claim as a condition of settlement or payment.
• Includes terms like “full” or “final” in the settlement check or accompanying letter, even when you reasonably believe that you have a supplemental claim for that loss.
Our Hurricane Irma Insurance Lawyers Can Help
If your home, condo or business has suffered damage from Hurricane Irma, it is best to have an attorney representing your interest.
Gilman Law LLP has more than 40 years of experience protecting the rights of consumers and businesses against insurance companies in the state of Florida. Because many of our attorneys have lived and worked here for decades, they understand what it takes to recover from a catastrophic hurricane. They will work with adjusters, roofers, contractors, structural engineers, and accountants to properly document and expedite your claim, so that is resolved fairly and promptly by your insurance carrier.
Our firm is ready right now to assist any individual or business seeking help with an insurance claim from Hurricane Irma. For a free, no-obligation review of your case, please fill out our free consultation form or call us direct to speak with one of our attorneys at (888) 252-0048.