In Florida, you typically have two years to file a standard hurricane insurance claim and three years to file a supplemental claim, according to Florida Statutes §627.70132. The clock on these claims starts after a hurricane makes landfall. This deadline has a few caveats, though.
What Is a Supplemental Claim?
Supplemental claims add on to or alter previously filed claims. For example, if you already received a claim payment but realized that your home sustained more damage than you initially thought, you could file a supplemental claim. As noted previously, the deadline for these claims is generally three years. These are a few more examples where a supplemental claim may make sense:
- While repairing your home, a contractor discovers more damage
- In a rush to file a claim, you didn’t properly document the full extent of your home’s damage
- Repairs to your home cost more than you initially realized
In contrast, a standard hurricane claim is an initial claim you submit. This is the type of claim that carries a two-year deadline.
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What Is Hurricane Insurance?
After a hurricane, two types of property typically end up damaged: homes and personal vehicles. In Florida, to receive complete coverage of these property types, you’ll need multiple types of specific insurance.
Homeowners’ Insurance Specifics
The HO-3 is a commonly held homeowner’s policy in Florida. If you have an insured home, you likely carry this policy. It covers a variety of potential damages to your home. However, the only hurricane-related damage it covers is wind damage. An HO-3 doesn’t cover flooding damage.
So, if you have another policy or opted out of wind damage insurance, you might not have wind coverage. Generally, though, the rule in Florida is this: if you have homeowner’s insurance, you probably have wind damage coverage. This type of insurance can cover:
- Damage to your roof caused by a hurricane windstorm
- Projectiles flying into your home during a hurricane
- Damage to windows and other sensitive parts of your home during a hurricane
Flood insurance is sold separately from homeowner’s policies. These are the general guidelines to abide by:
- For wind damage coverage: Maintain a standard homeowner’s policy but make sure to check that this policy includes wind coverage
- For flood damage coverage: You must purchase a separate flood damage policy
Keep in mind that flood damage insurance specifically covers water coming in through the ground level. Damage caused by water pouring through ceilings and windows may be covered even if you don’t have flood insurance. For this reason, it’s important to make detailed documentation of the damage to your home. It could benefit your final claim result.
Car Insurance Coverage
In Florida, you are required to carry two types of car insurance policies:
- Personal injury protection (PIP): Covers your own healthcare expenses after an accident
- Property damage liability (PDL): Covers damage to other’s property you might have caused in an accident
As you can probably guess, neither of these policies provides coverage in the event of a hurricane. Comprehensive car insurance typically covers you in the event of:
- Natural disasters like hurricanes
- Striking an animal while driving
- Projectiles striking your car
Why do I Need to Know All This?
When dealing with insurance claims, knowledge is power. After a hurricane makes landfall, it’s often a mad dash to secure coverage so you can begin repairing your home.
By researching your insurance policies, you’ll know what you do and do not have coverage for. This way, if your claim is disputed, you’ll know why. Similarly, this information could prove helpful if you want to appeal a lowball offer.
Filing a Hurricane Insurance Claim
Before getting started on your claim, remember this: your claims adjuster is not your friend, and insurance companies aren’t charity organizations. Their goal is to pay you exactly what they’re obligated to and no more. This doesn’t mean you should be rude to the claims adjuster. Just remember, be firm, be polite, and advocate for your own best interests.
Taking these steps could keep your claim on track:
- Keep detailed notes: Make a hurricane journal that tracks every damage and expense associated with your case. Similarly, make note of every interaction you have with your insurer. This could include saving emails and other types of correspondence you receive.
- Treat your claim like a negotiation: As noted before, the insurance company is not your best friend. Be courteous but firm with them. Your goal is to receive fair compensation. To do so, you’ll need to be proactive about fighting for your interests.
- Don’t sign anything without contacting a lawyer: Signing a nondisclosure agreement or other legally binding document could harm your case. If your insurer requests that you sign a document, consult with a lawyer first.
- Consider legal assistance: If you’re feeling overwhelmed or that your insurer is treating you unfairly, consider contacting a lawyer. If they have experience with insurance companies, they could know what to do next. Similarly, if your case requires a lawsuit, a lawyer could act as your legal representative.
Work With a Hurricane Claims Lawyer Today
At GED Lawyers, our disaster recovery lawyers proudly serve several communities throughout Florida. We prioritize accessibility as a law firm—hiring our insurance claim attorneys won’t cost you anything up front. If you’re struggling with your claim or were issued an unfair denial, contact our offices for a free evaluation today.