When Hurricane Ian ripped through the southeast recently, most of us were more focused on getting ourselves and our loved ones out of harm’s way than remembering the specifics of our hurricane insurance policies. Certainly, no one evacuated with thoughts of an impending hurricane insurance dispute on their mind!
Once the storm passed and homeowners and businesses surveyed the damage to their properties, it became clear that the hurricane insurance claims could run into billions of dollars.
After years of paying their premiums on time, business and property owners have a right to expect that their insurer will pay their claims after a hurricane. Unfortunately, this is not often the case.
These carriers are under massive financial pressure from Hurricane Ian damage claims and need to mitigate the losses as quickly as possible. They are often happier to engage in a hurricane insurance dispute than simply pay out the claim. Insurers have a history of doing this after a storm hits. Sadly, if your Hurricane Ian damage claim was rejected for no reason, you are likely not alone.
There are several reasons why your insurance claim may be denied after a hurricane. Our Florida hurricane and storm damage lawyers will address some of the most common ones below.
1. Was Your Physical Property Damage Actually Caused by the Storm?
Most property policies are clear that hurricane water damage to the inside of a building will be covered only when the water entered the building as a result of a covered cause of loss. For instance, the wind might have caused a window or door to be opened, and water came in.
If you find yourself in a Hurricane Ian claim dispute over this issue, you will need an expert to help you prove that exterior damage was caused by the wind and that the resultant interior damages are covered.
The insurance company may also claim that the damage was pre-existing and not caused by Hurricane Ian at all. Depending on the type of damage at issue in your claim, pictures of your house before the storm can help your hurricane insurance dispute case. Unfortunately, you may need an inspection and report from a structural engineer if the insurance company will not budge.
2. Was Your Property Damaged Caused by the Flood Surge or From Rain or Wind?
Hurricane damage is usually caused by a combination of weather factors, and the problem for property owners is that flood insurance must be obtained from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) before a storm hits. Additionally, hurricanes often hit areas where flood insurance is not a requirement for property owners.
After a storm, an insurance adjuster may deny your claim saying that the damage to your property was caused by flooding rather than wind. This determination is often wrong and a common origin point of many hurricane insurance disputes.
3. Did You Secure Your Property?
In this case, an insurance adjuster may acknowledge that the damage to your property resulted from the hurricane. However, they may claim that your failure to secure your property either before or after the storm hit made the damage much worse. But with storms like Hurricane Ian, most people have few options to properly tie down all their belongings before being forced to flee.
4. Have You Reached the Limits of Your Policy?
Does insurance cover hurricane damage? Of course it does, but only if you have bought enough coverage.
Not having enough coverage is often grounds for an insurance company to deny a homeowner’s claim. Insurance companies will pay out only the amount specified in an insurance policy. The difference between the policy limit and the remaining damages must be paid by the property owner themselves.
How Barrett Nonni Homola & Ferraro Can Help
At Barrett Nonni Homola & Ferraro, we have over 40 years of legal experience assisting Floridians to challenge unjust insurance payouts. We can fight for your rights and help you handle complex disputes with your insurance company or someone else’s. When you retain our firm, you will have direct access to communicate with your lawyer.
We believe in always being available for our clients should you have concerns or need questions answered. Let us handle all the complex legal issues while you concentrate on your recovery and getting back to work.