Hurricane Irma Florida Property Damage Attorney
Hurricane Irma was a devastating hurricane. This Hurricane Irma Florida Property Damage Lawyer can help if your property sustained damage due to the storm.
The Hurricane, one of the strongest ever recorded, damaged properties all across South Florida and the State of Florida. These included both residential properties (houses, apartments, condominiums, and homes) and commercial properties, businesses and buildings. Your property may have sustained windstorm damage or related damage - including broken windows due to flying projectiles; damaged or lost porches, garages, fences or sheds; damage due to falling trees; roof damage, loss of/lost roofs or lost/damaged roof shingles; damaged flooring; and damaged siding; and damaged landscaping. It may have also sustained water damage due to storm surge, flooding and/or water leaks.
Your vehicles and other property (such as appliances) may have also been damaged in the storm.
Call this Fort Lauderdale Hurricane Irma Property Damage Attorney at 954-448-7288 for a free, no obligation consultation if your property has been damaged in Hurricane Irma. Mr. Quackenbush will talk to you about your case for free.
If you hire Mr. Quackenbush to represent you, he will do so on contingency. This means that there will be no charge to you up front. Mr. Quackenbush will only get paid once you’ve been compensated for your damage – so there is no risk to you whatsoever.Things to do if your Property has been Damaged due to/by Hurricane Irma – by this Hurricane Irma Florida Property Damage Lawyer
If your property was damaged by Hurricane Irma, there are certain things you should do in order to be adequately compensated for your loss.
Take pictures and video/videotapes footage of the damage. Your property will eventually be repaired. Once it has been repaired, it will be too late to show what the damage looked like. You will want to be able to do this in case of any future litigation. This includes taking pictures of the damage to houses, vehicles and any other property.
You should take pictures of all areas of your property, both inside your house and outside. Specifically, you should take “panorama” style pictures and then pictures focusing in on each individual item of damage.
Collect pictures and videos of your property as it existed pre-damage (i.e., before Hurricane Irma). You will want these pictures to be able to show the insurance company the difference between your property before and after Hurricane Irma.
Keep a list/inventory of all of the damage at your property.
Collect property invoices or receipts. You will want to use these items to prove to the insurance company the value of your property or how much you paid for that property.
You will also want to keep invoices or receipts for items you bought to replace things damaged in the storm. This will allow you to prove the “replacement value” of the items that were damaged.
If your home is “unlivable”/if you have had to make alternate/alternative living arrangements, keep track of all of your living expenses. You may be able to get reimbursed for these expenses by your insurance company.
Read your insurance policy closely. You will want to know all of the details of your policy (including exclusions, etc.) before speaking to your insurance company. Your insurance company may try to deny/delay your claim due to technicalities or loopholes in your policy, so you will want to be familiar with your policy.
Make a claim with your insurance company immediately. If your property was insured, then the insurance company has an obligation to pay out on your claim. This is what you have been paying premiums for during the time you owned the property.
However, it is important that you make this claim as soon as possible so that the insurance company can’t later deny your claim stating that the claim was made late (i.e., the “late notice defense”).
Finally, you should both call the insurance company and make the claim in writing. If you email the insurance company, make sure to attach all pictures, documents and other receipts/estimates, etc.
Once you’ve made a claim, the insurance company will send an “adjuster” out to your property to survey the damage and give an estimate for how much the repairs/replacements will cost. It will be important for you to point out to the adjuster every item of damage on the property. If you don’t point it out all of the damage, the insurance adjuster won’t be able to take it into consideration when making the estimate for repairs/replacements.
Keep any correspondence between you and your homeowner’s or flood insurance company. This correspondence may be used at a later date to show, demonstrate or prove that the insurance company acted in “bad faith” (i.e., denied or delayed your claim wrongfully).
Keep any estimates or quotes of property damage. If you get any of your own estimates or quotes of property damage to your property, make sure to keep them. These estimates or quotes can be used at a later date to challenge the insurance company’s estimates.
Have you property inspected for mold. In the State of Florida, mold is ever-present and can run rampant - particularly after water damage caused by a hurricane. Before settling with your insurance company, be sure to have your property tested for mold. You don’t want to settle your case only to find out at a later date that you have a mold problem.
When you make a claim with your insurance company for property damage, the insurance company has an obligation to compensate you for your loss. After all, this is what you’ve been paying your premiums for. Nevertheless, insurance companies don’t always do the right thing. After your property has been damaged due to a storm, your insurance company may deny your claim due to pre-existing damages, technicalities or loopholes in the policy, or improperly filed claims. Your homeowner’s insurance company may also try to claim that your property was not built up to code before the storm and that it was this that caused your property damage to be so bad (in other words, that the storm wouldn’t have done as much damage if the property was built up to code).
In the alternative, your insurance company may agree to pay you on your claim, but may underpay you for the property damage.
If the insurance company delays responding/approving/paying out on your claim/compensating you, doesn’t respond to you in a reasonable amount of time, or pay out your claim, it may be in what’s called “bad faith.”
If your insurance company has denied your claim and acted in bad faith, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the insurance company. If you sue your own insurance company, eventually the case could end in a trial – wherein a jury would decide how much compensation to give you for your loss.
This Hurricane Irma Fort Lauderdale Property Damage Law Firm handles cases involving American Bankers Insurance Company, American Traditions Insurance Company, Anchor Insurance, Capitol Preferred Insurance Company, Castle Key Insurance (Allstate), Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Edison Insurance Company, Federated National Insurance Company, Florida Family Insurance Co., Frontline Insurance, Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance, Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Co., Modern USA Insurance Company, People’s Trust Insurance Company, SafePoint Insurance Company, Southern Fidelity Insurance Company, Southern Oak Insurance Company, St. Johns Insurance Company, Tower Hill Insurance, United Property & Casualty, Universal Property & Casualty Company, and Universal North America.
Mr. Quackenbush handles Hurricane Irma Property Damage cases all over the State of Florida – including Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Miami, West Palm Beach, the Florida Keys, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville.Hurricane Irma Florida Property Damage FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) – Answered by this Florida Storm Property Damage Attorney Will my homeowner’s insurance policy cover, compensate or reimburse me for property damage related to Hurricane Irma?
Yes, if you own a home and you have a homeowner’s insurance policy, that policy should cover you for property damage related to Hurricane Irma. In the State of Florida, when you purchase a home, most lenders (i.e., banks) today typically require you to carry insurance that will cover you for Hurricane or storm damage.Will my homeowner’s insurance policy cover/compensate/reimburse me for windstorm damage caused by Hurricane Irma?
Yes, if your property has sustained windstorm damage due to Hurricane Irma, your homeowner’s insurance policy should cover you for that damage. In fact, in the State of Florida, it’s required that homeowner’s insurance policies include coverage for windstorm damage. This is true unless the insured (i.e., the person who purchased the policy) opted out of windstorm damage coverage.Will my homeowner’s insurance policy cover/compensate/reimburse me for flood damage?
This depends. If the flood damage was caused by Hurricane Irma (if the flooding was caused by water that was “wind-blown” – for example, if the wind blew water into your house through a window), then yes your homeowner’s insurance policy should cover you for the damage. However, your homeowner’s insurance company may try to claim that your flood damage occurred after the winds from Hurricane Irma and therefore deny the claim. This is a typical strategy employed by insurance companies because most homeowner’s insurance policies include exclusions for flood damage.
If your homeowner’s insurance company is successful in making this argument, then it will be your flood insurance policy (if you have one) that will cover you for the flood damage. Flood insurance policies are typically purchased separately from homeowner’s insurance policies. If you do not have a flood insurance policy, then you will be forced to pursue a case/litigation against your homeowner’s insurance company.What if my business/company has lost profits/revenue/money because of property damage caused by Hurricane Irma?
If your business has lost profits, revenue or money because of property damage caused by Hurricane Irma, you may be able to get compensated for your loss with a business disruption/interruption claim. The most important thing for you to do is to keep track/records of any money your business has lost due to the property damage.
Additionally, if you have been forced to rent temporary business space or to lease equipment temporarily, you may be entitled to reimbursement for your expense.
Insurance companies frequently try to fight these business disruption/interruption claims. One typical strategy is that the insurance company may try to say that your business disruption was only a partial-disruption (rather than a full disruption) and therefore try to under-pay you.Is my insurance company responsible for my hotel, other alternate living arrangement or car rental if my home is unlivable or my vehicle un-drivable due to property damage caused by Hurricane Irma?
The answer is that yes, if the you are forced to make alternative living arrangements such as renting a hotel or renting a car after your home or vehicle is damaged due to Hurricane Irma, the insurance company may be responsible for reimbursing you for these expenses. The answer to this will depend upon the language of the insurance policy. This Broward County Hurricane Irma Property Damage Attorney can look at your insurance policy and give you this answer.What is the statute of limitations for a Hurricane Irma property damage case/lawsuit in the State of Florida? How long do I have to bring/file a Hurricane Irma property damage case/lawsuit in the State of Florida?
In the State of Florida, the statute of limitations for a windstorm or hurricane claim is five years. This is based on Florida Statute 95.11, which can be found here:
In other words, you have four years to file a lawsuit after your property has been damaged in a windstorm or hurricane. However, pursuant to Florida Statute 627.70132, the claim must first be reported to the insurance company within three years of the hurricane or windstorm – or else you will be forever barred from filing a lawsuit. Florida Statute 627.70132 can be found here:
Typically, your flood insurance will cover you for flooding/storm surge, and your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover you for any water-leaks. On the other hand, your homeowner’s policy won’t compensate you for flooding/storm surge, while your flood insurance policy won’t cover you for water leaks.
Usually flooding that qualifies for your flood insurance policy will be defined as flooding either 1) over two acres of land or 2) that damages at least two properties. The flooding must also come from 1) tidal waters, 2) surface waters, or 3) mud flow. Finally, flood insurance may also cover waterfront property that collapsed or sunk during a storm. However, flood insurance will not cover temporary housing/a hotel, alternative/alternate living expenses, or loss or disruption of business income.
Your flood insurance will also usually not cover you for roof leaks (water coming through the roof, typically from excessive rain or wind damage). It should be your homeowner’s insurance policy that will cover you for roof leaks. Your homeowner’s insurance policy will also typically cover you for “wind-blown” or “wind-driven” water damage (as opposed to “rising” water). This can include water that comes in through a window.What is the difference between Actual Cash Value and Replacement Value? Will my insurance company pay/give/compensate/reimburse me the actual cash value of my property or belongings or the replacement value?
“Actual cash value” is the actual value of the property that was damaged during the storm (i.e., the actual worth of the property/belongings). “Replacement value” is the cost of actual replacements of your property/belongings. The replacement value will usually be higher than the actual cash value. Because of this, the insurance company may try to pay you the actual cash value, rather than the replacement value. If they do, your other option is to refuse the payment and file a lawsuit.Should I clean up or fix my property or belongings before making a claim with/notifying the insurance company?
Generally, the answer to this question is no. Once you clean up or fix your property or belongings, it may be harder to get the insurance company to pay for the repairs. However, if you need to repair your property for safety reasons, you should do that and just take pictures or videotape footage of the damage before you make the repairs. These pictures can be used to substantiate the damage to the insurance company later on.Should I hire a contractor/s before making or reporting a claim with the insurance company?
Again, generally the answer is no. The insurance company may want to approve the contractor you choose before work begins. If a contractor you choose begins work before being approved by the insurance company, then the insurance company may be able to deny the claim.
Having said that, again, if you need a contractor to begin work immediately for safety reasons, do this but just make sure to take pictures of the damage before doing so.What is a Declaration Page (DEC page)? What do I need to look for/should I be looking for in my homeowner’s or flood insurance policy?
The Declaration Page (“DEC” page) is typically the first page of your homeowner’s or flood insurance policy that tells you the type of coverage that you have. The DEC page will tell you how much compensation/the limits of compensation you are entitled to receive for the damage to your property or belongings.When my homeowner’s insurance company or flood insurance company sends me a check for my property damage, will it include the mortgage company/bank’s name on it?
Yes, when your homeowner’s insurance or flood insurance company sends you a check for your property damage, the check will oftentimes have the mortgage company/bank’s name on it. This is because, if you have a mortgage, your home will be or will serve as collateral on your loan - so the mortgage company/bank will have a vested interest in it.Does my/will my homeowner’s insurance policy have a deductible? Can my homeowner’s insurance policy make me or claim/demand that I have to pay a deductible? Will I/do I have to pay a deductible on my homeowner’s insurance policy after damage from Hurricane Wilma?
This depends on if your homeowner’s insurance policy has a “Named Storm Deductible” or “Hurricane Deductible.” If it does, then you may have to pay a deductible - which typically is 10% of the total policy amount (not ten percent of the value of your claim). For example, if your total homeowner’s policy is $300,000 and the damage to your house is $50,000, you will have to pay a $30,000 deductible and then the remaining $20,000 will be paid by the insurance company.What are the policy limits of my flood insurance policy?
The maximum possible policy limits for a flood insurance policy in the State of Florida is $250,000 for your place of residence (i.e., your house, condominium or home) and $100,000 for your personal property/belongings.What personal property/belongings/items are covered by my flood insurance policy?
Typically, the only personal property/belongings/items under your “lowest elevated floor” (i.e., in your basement) that will be covered are you laundry, equipment, your freezer, and your portable air conditioner. Your refrigerator, flooring, drywall, window treatments, furniture, electronics or other personal property will not be covered if it exists under your “lowest elevated floor.”
Your flood insurance will unfortunately reimburse you for the “actual cash value” of your personal property/belongings rather than the “replacement value” (the actual cash value is usually lower).How should I pick/choose/select a roofer/roofing contractor or other contractor?
You should carefully research contractors before choosing one. This is because, after a storm, many contractors will come into the area, tell you that they can repair your property and handle your insurance claim, and then commit various forms of insurance fraud. In order to prevent this, make sure you research contractors on the website of the Better Business Bureau: https://www.bbb.org.
Also, make sure to obtain the contact information of the contractor you hire, so that the contractor can’t disappear after being paid before doing any work. It is also always best to pay contractors with a credit card, rather than cash.Do I have to/should I attempt to mitigate my damages after storm damage caused by Hurricane Irma? What does it mean to mitigate damages?
Yes, after the storm, you should attempt to “mitigate your damages.” This means that you should try to prevent future damage as much as possible. If you don’t, your homeowner’s insurance or flood insurance policy may not cover you for the additional damage.
For example, if there is a hole in your roof after the storm, you should try to put a tarp over the hole if possible. This will prevent more water from coming into the house and creating further damage. If you don’t do this, the insurance company may try to deny coverage for the additional damage – arguing that you should have done something to keep the water from coming into your house.Can I get compensated/receive compensation if my car/vehicle/automobile was damaged in Hurricane Irma?
Yes, you may be able to get compensation from your automobile insurance if your car/vehicle/automobile was damaged in Hurricane Irma. Either your Comprehensive coverage or Collision coverage should compensate you for the damage. For example, if a tree fell on your vehicle and caused the damage, your Comprehensive coverage should provide compensation.
If there is coverage, your automobile insurance company should pay for the vehicle repairs/for the vehicle to be repaired, for your rental car in the meantime, for the loss of use of your vehicle, and for the diminished value of your vehicle (this would be referred to as a “diminution in value” case).Can I receive compensation/get compensated for fallen trees/landscaping damaged during Hurricane Irma?
Yes, you may be able to get compensated for damage to your trees/landscaping caused by Hurricane Irma. If the damage was caused by high winds, then it will be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. If the damage was caused by storm surge or flooding, then it will be covered by your flood insurance policy.Should I hire a Public Adjuster after my property was damaged/after sustaining damaged property caused by Hurricane Irma?
Hiring a public adjuster is one option after your property has been damaged by Hurricane Irma. However, like attorneys, public adjusters typically work on contingency – meaning they get a percentage of your compensation/recovery at the end of your case. If you hire a public adjuster and then later need to hire an attorney to file a lawsuit, you might be stuck paying both the public adjuster and the attorney a percentage of your case. Public adjusters cannot file lawsuits on your behalf, so you may want to consider hiring an attorney such as this Hurricane Irma South Florida Property Damage Attorney from the beginning in order to avoid having to pay two bills.
If you do decide to hire a public adjuster, be aware that, when the Florida Governor declares a state of emergency, public adjuster fees are capped at 10 percent. In regards to Hurricane Irma, the Governor has already issued Executive Order 17-235 – which declared a State of Emergency in all 67 Florida Counties.Should I accept or cash a settlement check from my insurance company for property damage caused by Hurricane Irma if the check says “full and final”?
Before accepting or cashing a settlement check from your insurance company which says “full and final,” you should make sure that you don’t have any additional or supplemental claims. If you accept the check, the insurance company may be able to argue that the check was for all of your damage, including the supplemental claims.
If you’ve sustained property damage due to Hurricane Irma, contact Mr. Quackenbush for a free, no obligation consultation at 954-448-7288.
Should you decide to hire this Hurricane Irma Fort Lauderdale Property Damage Lawyer, he will work on contingency. This means that he won’t get paid until you’ve received compensation in your case, so there is absolutely no risk to you.