Hurricane Irma annihilated Florida this past weekend. It was advised all Floridians prepare their home for the beating and save all important documents, whether they were required to evacuate or not.
Several homes, streets, and businesses were left in shambles all throughout the state. The Keys and Naples took the worst hit, but damage has been reported in Tampa Bay and throughout Florida.
If you have to report Hurricane Irma insurance claims, you’re not the only one: it’s estimated there will be 450,000 reported claims.
There were a handful of deaths and injuries, but property took the biggest beating. But fortunately, several insurance companies are here to help you at the post-storm panic.
Even though you’re grateful for your safety, you can be entitled to compensation based on damages to your home or business. Read through this advice to find out how you can receive the most benefit from your insurance company.
Hurricane Irma Insurance Claims Facts
Hurricane Irma was a powerful hurricane and was one of the worst storms Florida experienced, if not the worst storm. Several insurance companies and other relief groups had plenty of time to prepare.
Before you read the advice, find out the ways in which insurance companies and disaster relief has prepared for this catastrophic storm.
Insurance Companies May Not Have Been Prepared
In addition to homeowners, most insurance companies set money aside for Hurricane Irma insurance claims. They expected to handle extensive damage and knew their customers were entitled to relief.
But experts debate if this was truly the case.
The reason is simple: no one knew how much damage would be done and ultimately, how much it would cost.
Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992 as a Category 5 hurricane. That hurricane left $27 billion in damages.
This was the only source experts could use to predict the costs of Irma damage, even though Irma was predicted to be even more powerful than Andrew.
Hurricane Irma’s estimated cost of damages is $100 billion.
Florida Insurance Companies are Smaller
Compared to other states, Florida’s insurance market is dominated by smaller and newer insurance companies. This could pose a problem when filing Hurricane Irma insurance claims.
While these companies have proved their legitimacy, it’s estimated they may not be prepared for damages of this size and cost. This could mean lack of funds and resources for homeowners.
FEMA Can Help
If you can’t file Hurricane Irma insurance claims with your insurance company, you have other options.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides grants to victims. While the amount may be small, this money can help cut the costs when repairing your home.
Most Insurance Companies Only Cover Certain Disasters
Insurance companies are specific with what they will cover. While most insurance companies cover wind damage, some Hurricane Irma insurance claims don’t cover water damage, which requires purchasing separate insurance.
This poses a major setback for those who live in flooding areas.
File Your Homeowner Insurance Claim
Filing a claim with your insurance company can save you money when repairing damages to your home caused by Hurricane Irma. No matter how much you prepared, Hurricane Irma was a powerful storm.
Anyone could have been a victim of a hurricane. If you’re a victim of property damage because of Hurricane Irma, you have options to repair any damages to your home.
Find Your Insurance Documents
All homeowners and business property owners were urged to stored their insurance documents in a safe place. But sometimes, you’re in a hurry to evacuate and didn’t have a chance to look through your drawers or folders.
Even worse, when you come back home and notice there has been significant damage.
In this case, find your insurance documents before contacting your insurance company.
Depending on the damage, you can easily make Hurricane Irma insurance claims and receive compensation that will go toward repairing the damage. But it’s best to be able to prove your claim before contacting the insurance company.
If you were unable to safely store your documents before Hurricane Irma and you found them undamaged, store them in a safe area for the future.
Find Photos and Video of Your Home
A great precaution when preparing for a hurricane or any catastrophe is to take pictures of your home.
Sending your insurance provider a before-and-after comparison is a great example of proof when filing Hurricane Irma insurance claims.
However, not everyone thinks of this when they’re in a panic to evacuate. In this case, try and dig up any photos or video of your home.
Great examples are realty ads when you purchased the home, family pictures and video, birthday parties or any events, and any pictures of remodeling or renovation.
Keep Receipts of Any Spending
Hold on to receipt and keep records of anything you had to spend to prove you evacuated, your house was damaged, and you had to file Hurricane Irma insurance claims.
Anything from hotel rooms and travel expenses to independent repairs helps your insurance provider identify the extent of the damage and what you had to do to prepare for your safety.
Report All Damaged Items to Your Insurance Provider
Yes, that means you shouldn’t throw anything out when filing Hurricane Irma insurance claims.
In case of flooding, it’s best to prove the incident with damaged carpet, furniture, and other objects.
If you suffered wind damage, take pictures of the damage. Don’t attempt to remove debris, broken branches, broken trees, or any other damages. County services will remove all debris.
If a major damage occurred, such as a tree falling on your home, stay with loved ones or at a hotel. Don’t attempt to move the tree. Take a picture of the damage and send it to your insurance provider.
The only time to discard these items is when it’s required for your safety. Examples of this include a tree or power line crashing your roof. But in any case, it’s still advised you take a picture of any damage.
What if Your Car was Damaged?
Most auto insurance policies cover this kind of damage. Contact your auto insurance provider and see what kind of Hurricane Irma insurance claims you can file.
Contact Your Insurance Provider Immediately
Now that you know the best practices when filing Hurricane Irma insurance claims, don’t wait. Find the required information and contact your insurance provider. The faster you contact them, the quicker you’ll receive your claim.
What To Do After Your Claim Has Been Filed
After you file your claim, there are best practices to do so you’re updated. Here are some examples:
Keep a Claim Diary
This will help prove your claim. Write down any confirmation numbers when you receive them. In addition, write down the names and extensions (if applicable) of any staff members who filed the claim.
Track the claim issue and save all copies of proof.
It’s also helpful to track the date and time the claim was filed.
Keep in Contact with Your Insurance Provider
Your insurance provider will openly communicate with you, usually via email or phone. But if they don’t contact you about the claim, regularly check in with them.
Sign Up for Text Alerts
Even after the storm, it isn’t too late to sign up for text alerts. This is a good way to be informed of any debris pickups, and any other hurricane relief that relates to your insurance claim. A great example is texting ‘FLPrepares’ and your zip code to 888-777.
If your insurance provider offers text alerts, sign up for them. You’ll easily be updated on the status of your claim.
It can take anywhere between a week to six months to receive your claim. If your insurance provider predicts a long wait, find out what you can do in the meantime to protect yourself and your home.
How to Avoid Scams
As with anything else, there are scams that will target you at your most vulnerable position. Insurance fraud and fake insurance companies is a perfect example.
If you get contacted to make an adjustment, find out who’s calling you. If they can prove they’re from the insurance company, go ahead with the adjustment. But be wary if they state they’re an independent adjuster.
If they’re an independent adjuster, request proof they’re working with your insurance company.
In addition, ask for the name of the in-house company. When you receive the name of the company, conduct research. See if this scam has been reported by the press or victims.
How to Receive Assistance if You Don’t Have Insurance
If your home flooded and you don’t have flood insurance, contact your home insurance and see if their coverage extends to flooding.
If you have no insurance at all, you should immediately sign up for disaster relief through FEMA. Provide all necessary information and write down your confirmation number.
There are also non-profit groups who can provide a range of assistance to you and your family.
You may not receive enough compensation to cover all damage costs, but what you receive will help.
Hurricane Homeowner Insurance Claim Denial
After filing your Homeowners Insurance Claim following Hurricane Irma your claim may be denied by your Insurance Company. This can be very frustrating. Winters & Yonker may be able to help you fight a Homeowner Insurance Claim Denial.
Should you be facing a Homeowner Insurance Claim Denial, contact Winters & Yonker today to discuss your potential case now.
Let's get started with your FREE consultation