The 2021 hurricane season is upon us.
As Hurricane Elsa (downgraded to a tropical storm—for now) quickly approaches Florida, it is more important than ever to understand how to protect your home and personal property in the event of a catastrophic hurricane.
Prepare for a Hurricane or Tropical Storm
The National Weather Service predicts another busy hurricane season this year. The following are a few tips to assist you in preparing for Hurricane Elsa or any other tropical storm or hurricane:
Request a copy of your insurance policy before the storm hits. Keep the policy on hand in case your home or property is impacted. Your insurance policy lays out the specifics of your particular coverage. Every policy is different. After a catastrophic storm, insurance carriers can receive hundreds or thousands of calls related to claims. It might take weeks (or more) to get a copy of your insurance policy after a storm. Contact your insurance carrier TODAY to request a copy of your insurance policy.
Take photographs (inside and out) of your home before the storm. Document your home in its present condition. These photographs will become very important if a catastrophic storm impacts your home. They can be used to show your insurance company the damage caused by the storm.
Inventory and/or take photographs of your personal property. In an insurance context, personal property is anything that is NOT permanently attached or connected to your home. Many homeowners have coverage in their homeowner’s insurance policy for personal property damage after a covered loss such as a named storm.
BUY SUPPLIES NOW! Remember the madness during the early days of COVID-19? It is more important than ever to make sure that you have your supplies figured out in advance. Keep the following items on hand in case of a catastrophic storm: water, candles, batteries, propane, first-aid items, flashlights, etc.
What To Do if Your Home Is Damaged in a Hurricane or Tropical Storm
If your home is damaged by a catastrophic storm, here are a few tips and steps to take when reporting damage to your insurance company:
Notify your insurance carrier as soon as possible. If you have not already done so, request a copy of your insurance policy as well. It is impossible for an insurance company to pay you for a claim when they do not know about the claim.
Contact someone who is familiar with the claims process, like an attorney, right away. Recent legislation has made a confusing claims process even more difficult. It is more important than ever to have a professional working on your side. Insurance companies are profit-driven machines set up to underpay and deny valid insurance claims. The cards are stacked against unrepresented policyholders who attempt to fight against an insurance company.
Take pictures and videos of ALL of your damaged property—including the damage to your home’s structure and your personal property. There is often a rush to clean up damaged property as soon as possible. However, your homeowner’s insurance policy requires that you document the damage resulting from the storm. Take as many photographs as possible after a catastrophic storm.
Be wary of contractors that knock on your door, hand out flyers, and/or improperly solicit you for emergency services. Do NOT sign any contracts without fully understanding the terms of the contract or talking to an attorney beforehand.
Be very CAREFUL after a hurricane. Keep an eye out for hazards (such as standing water, debris, downed power lines, etc.). A catastrophic claim is a catastrophe by its very definition.
PZ Law Firm, P.A. is based out of Orlando, Florida. We represent homeowners like you against your insurance company if your claim is denied or underpaid. Contact us today at 407-500-EZPZ (3979) for a free consultation regarding your insurance claim.
Disclaimer: This column does not create a client-attorney relationship and is not intended as legal advice. Should you need any legal advice, speak to an attorney who is skilled in the area and jurisdiction you require.