As Florida residents, we are all familiar with hurricanes. We know how destructive the force of nature can be and how devastating the effects can be on homes and families. Oftentimes, the loss of property caused by hurricanes creates an emotional and financial toll that can tremendously burden a family.
When the hurricane is gone, and the damage is evident, it's time to file a home insurance claim. But what happens when your insurance company denies your claim? What can you do when the company that was supposed to be there for you in a time of tragedy is woefully insufficient?
When Your Homeowner's Insurance Isn't Enough
Having a homeowners insurance policy that covers hurricane damage when you live in Florida can make a huge difference for property owners after a devastating hurricane or tropical storm. Oftentimes, the increase in your premium is valuable, even if it's just for the peace of mind of knowing you are covered in the event of damaged property.
But when your insurance company denies your home insurance claim, it can be hard to fully grasp the situation. Why are they denying it? Do they even have a right to deny my claim? Is it supposed to take this long to hear back from them? Is that really all they can offer me?
The Florida hurricane damage lawyers at Dolman Law Group can help you through this process and help you to understand your rights and options. We have the experience of thousands of cases and the reputation with insurance companies that can give you the edge you need to get just compensation for your losses. If you have suffered property losses or injuries during a hurricane and need help getting proper compensation, contact the attorneys at Dolman Law Group today.
The Different Types of Hurricane Ian Property Damage
- Wind damage
- Water damage
- Flooding damage
Hurricane Ian Property Damage Claims - The Various Types
- Roof damage (both major and minor damage)
- Flooring damage
- Damage to the foundation of a home or commercial business
- Exterior wall damage
- Wall collapse
- Interior property damage
- Deck damage
- Wall splintering
- Garage damage
- Siding damage
- Uprooted trees - deeply rooted trees that have been uprooted
- Damage to major appliances
- Damaged landscaping
Hurricane Ian Property Damage and Your Insurance Policy
Property damage inflicted by category 3 Hurricane Ian should be covered by your homeowner's insurance policy. Generally, any homeowners insurance policy sold in Florida is subject to a hurricane or wind deductible. Be sure to review your homeowners policy.
Flood Insurance Differs From Hurricane Insurance
You may find your homeowners insurance policy coverage is not sufficient to handle all of the damage sustained from Hurricane Ian. For example, most standard homeowner's insurance policies do not provide coverage for water damage that falls under the purview of a flood insurance policy which must be added as supplemental coverage. It is highly unlikely that a standard homeowners insurance policy will cover flood damage from a hurricane or major storm. Thus, your hurricane insurance claim is not likely to cover flooding or flood damage.
Insurance Companies Will Often Deny Your Hurricane Claim For Wind Damage
However, insurance carriers are notorious for attempting to attribute all types of damage to a flood loss. Many hurricane victims are besides themselves wondering how this is possible. We will retain top notch experts to combat the insurance company at every step of the way. Hence, why it is imperative you retain an experienced attorney to take immediate legal action. We want to maximize your compensation for your damaged property.
Your Insurance Company may not Have Your Best Interest in Mind
In addition to issues such as flood insurance, homeowner's with significant property damage due to wind, debris, or electrical issues may have issues getting the coverage they need even if the damage does fall under their policy's coverage. Keep in mind that if you insurance company denies or underpays your claim; we are committed to litigating against them if necessary. We offer a free consultation with our hurricane insurance attorney. Don't be surprised when you see your very own insurance company deny claims across the board over the coming weeks and months.
Hurricane Ian Damage Across Florida
Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for all of Florida as a result of tropical storm-now Hurricane Ian. Hurricane Ian made landfall near Fort Myers, and tore homes apart with approximately 150 mph winds not to mention an immense storm surge. Cape Coral, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda and Bonita Springs also sustained immense property damage. Sarasota (60 miles north of Fort Myers) experienced wind gusts that exceeded 100 mph. We have seen entire communities with significant roof and interior water damage over 45 miles from landfall.
Hurricane Ian caused property owners significant wind damage including consistent roof damage and broken windows, interior water damage (not to mention property damage suffered from flying debris) in the following cities:
- Fort Myers
- Bonita Springs
- Port Charlotte
- Punta Gorda
- Cape Coral
- Lakewood Ranch
- Daytona Beach
- Cape Canaveral
- Cocoa Beach
- New Smyrna Beach
Major coastal cities such as Fort Myers/Cape Coral, Naples, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda and surrounding towns faced immense storm surges and consequent flooding damage. There is also the damage to property inflicted by wind, rain, and debris. Hurricane Ian left behind a wake of catastrophic property damage worth billions in most counties across the gulf coast of Florida and inland. In fact the wind was strong enough to completely destroy homes throughout Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs and Port Charlotte.
We anticipate over 1 million Hurricane Ian insurance claims will get submitted by mid-October. Insurance claims covering a wide array of Hurricane Ian property damage will be filed by both residential and commercial claimants. Our law firm is already representing many residential and commercial policyholders on both coasts. Do not deal with claims adjusters on your own. Adjusters are experienced in low balling hurricane claims. If you suffered hurricane damage, do not go at it alone. Insurance adjusters even deny valid claims resulting in bad faith lawsuits. This is simply part and parcel to how many insurance companies operate. This is why it is vital to consult with an experienced insurance claims attorney.
The following counties are estimated to be the most heavily damaged by the storm.
- Indian River
- Palm Beach
- St. Lucie
A hurricane is a rapidly rotating storm system that is characterized by its circulation, strong winds, and heavy rains. They can be fast-moving with strong winds or slow-moving with lots of rain and very little wind. If you have lived in Florida long enough, you probably have lived through all kinds of storms. If you just moved here, you will be an expert in no time.
After a hurricane moves through your area–the rain stops and the sun comes out–you can finally assess the damage to your neighborhood and house.
Categories of Hurricanes
Understanding how devastating a hurricane can be often depends on the category of hurricane that hits your area. Here is a quick breakdown of the five categories of hurricanes.
Category 1 storms have wind gusts that are above 74 mph. They can easily damage roofs, knockout windows, and rip off siding. It is also common for category 1 storms to cause tree branches to fall into homes or into other property. These storms almost always cause some power outages.
Category 2 storms are characterized by winds that are above 96 mph. These storms, with nearly 100 mph winds, can cause serious damage to housing structures, trees, and power lines. All these things can lead to serious damage for homeowners and business owners causing everything from structural damage to flooding to fires. It is also possible, as with any category of hurricane, that some people may be injured.
Category 3 storms have winds gusts up to 111 mph and nearly guarantee that wherever they directly hit, there will be loss of life and devastating property damage.
Category 4 storms have wind gusts of more than 131 mph and are considered extremely dangerous. Oftentimes, evacuation is necessary for category 4 storms. Damage from these storms can include ripping off the entire roof structure, tearing down entire walls, and throwing whole trees onto homes.
Category 5 storms have wind gusts that are 155 mph or more. This is the highest classification of a hurricane. Only a few Category 5 hurricanes have made landfall in the United States. Some of the most recent include Andrew in 1992, Irma in 2017, and Dorian in 2019. Category 5 hurricanes can completely destroy entire homes and entire neighborhoods, turn everyday objects into projectiles, and cover entire cities in floodwaters.
Hurricane Strength Compared to Rainfall
Hurricane strength and what category they are put into is always about the strength of the wind. They do not take into account the amount of rain a storm brings. Hurricanes can bring a few inches to even a few feet of rain in a short period of time.
Fast-moving storms with strong winds can bring so little rain it feels like an afternoon shower. But slow-moving storms with very little gusts of wind can linger and drop enormous amounts of rain in an area. As you can probably tell, both come with their own type of serious damage potential.
Hurricanes Don't Just Destroy Property
Hurricanes are most commonly associated with the property damage that they cause, but they also cause injuries to those caught in the storm too. It is not uncommon for thousands of people to be injured after a severe hurricane, with anywhere from tens to hundreds of deaths.
Personal injury claims after a hurricane
Of course, a personal injury claim cannot be brought against an insurance carrier if you are injured in a hurricane, but there are some situations in which negligence comes into play with hurricane injuries.
Take, for example, Hurricane Irma and the elderly people who died because of the storm. After Irma passed, a lot of places were out of power. But one nursing home failed to evacuate its residents after temperatures reached over 100 degrees in the building because of the lack of AC.
Other nursing homes have been held responsible when they failed to evacuate citizens prior to a storm and residents were injured or lost their lives from flooding or other hazards. So you can see that hurricanes don't just cause property damage, but they also put people at risk of bodily harm in all types of ways
[Read: Be Prepared This Hurricane Season: Helpful Tips for You and Your Family]
What To Do Before a Hurricane
Before a hurricane hits is a good time to get prepared for the inevitable. In Florida, another hurricane will come; you can bet on it. So to prevent being caught off guard, it's best to prepare for a hurricane. Collect the items you need, get your house ready, and have a plan in place.
- Start by building or restocking your emergency preparedness items. This should include flashlights, batteries, first aid items, room-stable food items, drinking water, and cash.
- Ensure that your vehicle is full of gas and is ready to go. It may even be prudent to pre-pack the car with clothing and needed items just in case you have to evacuate.
- Bring in any items that are outdoors like furniture or grills that could easily be blown away or turn into projectiles.
- If you have them, it is time to close your storm shutters or board up the windows.
It may also be a good idea to create what some people call a “go bag” which has things in it that can not be easily replaced. This might include passports, important photos, heirlooms, expensive jewelry, and cash. This can come in handy if a hurricane hits and you have to leave unexpectedly. Instead of running around the house looking for grandma's ring, you have everything in one handy bag.
Finally, take photos and videos of your home and property before the storm. This will act as proof for what condition something was in before the hurricane, and will even prove things like the type of furniture you had or the type of TV.
What To Do During a Hurricane
During a hurricane is obviously when you are at serious risk of bodily danger. While the storm is actually hitting, stay away from the windows and go toward an interior room to wait out the storm.
Begin filling up your bathtub with water that you can use for cleaning and drinking if necessary. Some homes have wells that can stop pumping without electricity. In other cases, some other disruption may prevent your water from working. It's best to be prepared. You should also turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and try not to open them. This will preserve your food if your power goes out.
Pay attention to Twitter or your local news station's website to keep track of the home. Important updates, like a spotted tornado, will most likely be reported online as soon as the information is available.
What To Do After a Hurricane
After a hurricane has passed and there is no more possibility of danger, it's time to assess the damage. Start by making sure that there are no downed power lines in your yard. These are often active and cause thousands of injuries every year.
Then, begin assessing the damage to your home. No matter how well you try to protect your property, it is likely that there will be some kind of damage. If the storm caused significant damage that is going to require costly repairs, you should follow a few particular steps.
Use a Tarp To Cover Damage
Start by covering up any exposed areas with a waterproof tarp. This will prevent additional water from entering your home and making the damage worse. Insurance companies often try to find any way they can to deny a claim. One of their favorite tricks is to claim that a homeowner did not take proper steps to prevent further damage.
If you have missing shingles or a hole in your roof and it is not covered with a tarp when the insurance adjuster arrives, you could have further difficulties on your hands.
Begin Documenting Damage
Start by taking photos and videos of all the damage that occurred. A good place to begin is on the outside of your home. Take as many photos as possible from as many angles as possible. Get photos of all damage, every angle of the exterior of home, and every angle of the roof. Start by taking wide shots and then move in closer. This will allow easy proof of damage later.
Next, move inside and begin taking photos and video of any damage that occurred there. Again get as many angles as possible and take photos from a wide angle and move in closer.
Having photographic and video evidence of your damage will be particularly helpful for the next step of the process, which is filing a claim with your insurance company.
[If you are renter, read this article.]
File a Home Insurance Claim As Soon As Possible
Once everybody is safe, and evidence of the damage has been documented, it's time to notify your insurance company. Insurance policies typically require that you file a home insurance claim within a certain period of time after the storm. Male sure you have hurricane coverage within your general property insurance policy. Contact your insurance company either by phone or online and begin the process of filing your claim.
If you have issues getting proper compensation for your property damage, it's time to move to the next step, which is to contact a hurricane insurance claim attorney.
Hurricane Ian and Widespread Damage Across Florida
Cities across the Gulf coast of Florida and even farther inland are always at risk to suffer severe hurricane damage and Hurricane Ian is no exception. Governor Ron DeSantis deemed Hurricane Ian a significant enough threat to Florida that he declared a state of emergency.
The entire state of Florida is at risk of some degree of damage although certain cities such as Tampa/Saint Petersburg, Orlando, Fort Myers/Cape Coral, and Gainesville are the most populous areas that stand to suffer the most hurricane damage either due to high-speed winds, heavy, rainfall, storm surge, and hurricane debris.
The following 24 Florida counties have been declared the highest risk for severe Hurricane Ian damage.
- Indian River
- Palm Beach
- St. Lucie
Hurricane Ian Property Damage Claims
Suffering significant property damage inflicted by Hurricane Ian does not have to mean you have to wrestle with your homeowners' insurance company. Filing a claim over hurricane damage can mean the difference between financial ruin or security for most that suffer damage to their property caused by flooding, heavy rainfall, debris, hurricane winds, and more.
Insurance companies know every trick in the book when it comes to not only reducing the amount they pay out but also denying your claim completely. Many people make the mistake of assuming their hurricane water damage will be covered by their homeowner's insurance when coverage is typically excluded unless you pay for supplemental flood damage coverage.
Insurance companies may simply deny your claim for vague reasons or lowball you with payments that barely even cover part of your damages. Dolman Law Group's hurricane damage lawyers can provide the resources and legal acumen necessary to get you the insurance coverage you need to get your recovery after a hurricane back on track.
Every past hurricane has seen countless Florida residents put in dire situations when their insurance failed to live up to their end of the bargain and Dolman Law Group has been there every time to deliver results when handling homeowner's insurance claims. We can assist you with protecting your right to fair coverage for hurricane property damage by assisting with calculating your damages, appealing denied claims, negotiating fair settlements for damages, and even litigating situations involving insurance bad faith.
Contact a Hurricane Insurance Claim Attorney
If your home insurance claim is being denied, delayed, or you are being lowballed by the insurance company after hurricane damage, it's time to contact a home insurance claim attorney.
How can a hurricane insurance claim attorney help me?
Attorneys that handle hurricane insurance claims know the law and the practices of insurance companies. We understand the deadlines for filing claims after a hurricane. When we work with you, our goal is to get you compensation to cover the damages that happened because of the hurricane.
When you meet with one of our attorneys, they will carefully review your insurance claim information. They will help you explore legal options and negotiate with the insurance company. We will answer any questions you have along the way, as well.
What does Dolman Law Group charge for its services?
At Dolman Law Group, we only charge you for our services if we help you recover compensation. From the amount you recover, we take a certain percentage to cover your legal fees.
We believe you should get legal advice after the damage from a hurricane. And we believe you should be able to do this without worrying about upfront legal fees.
You don't need to give in to pressure from your insurance company
It can be tempting to take the first offer that comes your way after you file your claim. However, sometimes insurance companies will not offer an amount that adequately covers your damages.
It's easy just to want the process to be over. It can feel like you don't have options. You don't have to accept the first offer, and you should not feel pressured to do so. It can be helpful to consult with an attorney to help you get a fair settlement or to clarify what an appropriate amount would look like.
Don't be intimidated; We can help you every step of the way
At Dolman Law Group, we like to say that “For us, it's personal. We'll fight for you just like it's our own family.” We believe in respecting our clients, answering their questions, and working to get them the compensation they deserve. We want to make the process less scary for you.
Here's what some of our clients have had to say after working with us:
I've never worked with a better group of attorneys than the ones at this firm. Becky Dolman in particular is just someone special. She works non-stop and is always going above and beyond for her clients. Not to mention, I know she has a family and children of her own so for her to be able to balance her personal life and be able to give such great quality service to her clients is admirable. ~Morgan
Very happy Matt Dolman was able to represent me in my claim. He is very professional, experienced, and has handled thousands of these. I would want no one else in my corner other than Matt because I know what he brings to the table when it comes to going to bat for his clients. ~ Sarah
Get a Free Consultation Today
Dolman Law Group is a nationally recognized law firm specializing in handling personal injury and homeowners' insurance property damage claims with out lawyers sharing over 130+ years of experience between them. Our hurricane property damage lawyers can assist you with getting the compensation you need to handle hurricane-inflicted damages to your property.
When you go to Dolman Law for help with your hurricane damage claim you gain an ally that will ensure you are not taken advantage of by the insurance company. We will work with you every step of the way to make sure you get fair compensation. Our law firm is representing hurricane victims throughout the State of Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
The hurricane damage attorneys at Dolman Law Group can help you to get the compensation that you need to restore your life after a hurricane but you need to take the first step and reach out to us. Contact us today for a free case evaluation either online or by calling our office at 727-451-6900.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA - Clearwater Office
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756
“AMAZING and understanding attorneys! Did great on my case and I highly recommend Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for anyone that has been injured in an accident!"
Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Read more reviews on Google!