Florida Hurricanes and Your Home Insurance

September 30, 2022 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Florida Hurricanes and Your Home Insurance Just recently, Florida suffered severe flooding, wind damage, and countless amounts of suffering due to Hurricane Ian. As the worst storm in 50 years hit Florida, it is sure to have caused millions (if not billions) in damage and will leave thousands of Florida residents with horrific damage, injuries, and loss of life. Now, just days after Hurricane Ian, many of the residents are beginning the process of assessing flood damage, calling their insurance companies, and hoping they can work out some way to pay for these costs.

How Do Hurricane Deductibles Work?

In Florida, the state allows insurance companies to apply hurricane deductibles to homeowners' policies. In some coastal areas with high wind risk, insurers may require hurricane deductibles higher than a standard of 5 percent. Some states let policyholders choose higher hurricane deductibles to reduce their premiums. Whether a hurricane deductible applies to a claim depends on the specific benchmark picked by your home insurance company or state insurance department. If you think you have coverage on your home for hurricane risks, look at a copy of your policy or call your insurance company to find out. You can also contact Dolman Law Group to help you review your policy.

What's the difference between wind and hurricane coverage in Florida?

As a result of Florida's risk for severe storms, many homeowner insurance carriers now include a “wind” or “hurricane” deductible. In fact, many insurance carriers slipped in the change in deductibles with little notification to policyholders. But what's the difference between a wind deductible and a hurricane deductible? A hurricane deductible applies to damage sustained from a hurricane. Some insurance companies include a specific mile-per-hour wind speed, while others state that the hurricane must be designated as such by the National Weather Service or the National Hurricane Center. As a result, this form is more appealing. A wind deductible is more penalizing than a hurricane deductible. A wind deductible applies to any wind damage and is not limited to a storm that meets the definition of a hurricane or a particular “mile-per-hour” wind speed requirement. This form will impose a larger out-of-pocket cost to the policyholder for any and all wind claims.

What about Florida flood coverage?

Flood insurance is offered through the deferral government's National Flood Insurance Programs and policies are sold and managed by private insurance companies. This means your insurance company might pay to remove the trees that have fallen during the storm, but they won't cover damage from rain that's entered your home. It's important to go over your insurance policy with your insurance professional who will make sure that your home is properly insured with the proper terms and conditions available in the marketplace.

Is it too late to buy coverage for the hurricane?

If you're thinking about rushing out to get coverage before a major storm, you're not alone. But keep in mind, it most likely won't do any good for an eminent storm.  For example, flood insurance coverage does not take into effect until 30 days after purchase. This waiting period is designed for the exact reason you think: to prevent people from running out and buying it when they think they will need it. Insurance companies prefer to pay them for a few decades before they pay out. For other coverage like wind and hurricane insurance, there are different waiting periods, depending on the carrier. But there is a slim to non-existent chance that any coverage purchased now would cover you for a storm that is approaching in the next few days.

What about car insurance for damage from a storm?

Comprehensive car insurance typically covers damage to your car from flooding, hail, and other severe weather. However, insurance carriers typically won't sell new auto coverage of this type if your area is under a hurricane watch or if severe weather is imminent. It may be worth a shot though, so ask your insurer about adding comprehensive coverage for your car if you don't already have it.

The Cost of Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian is expected to cost Florida between $55 billion and $65 billion after everything is said and done. And if history is any indicator, it could be much more. Hurricane Ian flooded major cities and devastated homes after it made landfall in Florida. And unfortunately, the damage will continue to add up. After becoming a tropical storm, Hurricane Ian ramped up to a Category 4 hurricane before making contact with Florida in Fort Myers and proceeding all the way across the state. Now, officials are starting to calculate the damages. Chuck Watson, a disaster expert at Enki Research, said the storm could cost the U.S. up to $67 billion in economic damages. Besides damaging homes and infrastructure, the hurricane will have also ruined crops and other industries. The historic storm demolished homes and businesses, damaged infrastructure like roads and bridges, and if wreaking havoc on the everyday homeowner and business owner. On Thursday, President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Florida, allowing additional federal aid to be given to the state. Biden vowed to help support state and local officials as they assess the damage caused by Hurricane Ian. He also said the federal government will cover the full cost of clearing debris and of rebuilding public buildings like schools and fire stations. The government will also be providing support to people with destroyed or damaged homes.

Contact the Hurricane Attorneys at Dolman Law Group 

There's no place like home and there are few situations more stressful than having your family's safe haven destroyed by a catastrophic hurricane.  Home owners faithfully pay their insurance premiums each month in hopes that their coverage will protect them in the event of significant property damage.  However, the claims process can sometimes be arduous, frustrating, and disheartening. If your claim is denied, the appeals process can be even more overwhelming; the very insurance company that denied your claim typically will be the decision maker regarding the appeal. The odds are stacked against the homeowner when a hurricane hits and loss occurs.  Experienced and competent representation can make a tremendous difference in the claims fight. An experienced Florida hurricane attorney will understand how to protect you and ensure you get the most for your hurricane home insurance claim.

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Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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