Welcome to our latest blog post, where we delve into a topic that’s unfortunately becoming all too common for homeowners across the United States: navigating the aftermath of a hurricane, specifically when it comes to making and winning insurance claims. Hurricanes are devastating forces of nature that can leave a trail of destruction in their wake, affecting lives, homes, and communities. In the aftermath of such events, dealing with insurance claims can often add an additional layer of stress to an already overwhelming situation.

Here at Strickland and Kendall, we understand the challenges you face during these trying times. With years of experience in insurance law, we’ve guided countless homeowners through the process of filing insurance claims, ensuring they receive the compensation they’re entitled to. Our expertise isn’t just in understanding the fine print of insurance policies; it’s also in recognizing the emotional and financial toll a hurricane can inflict on a family.

This blog is designed to demystify the process of making an insurance claim after a hurricane. We’ll walk you through every step, from understanding your policy before disaster strikes to the actions you should take immediately following a hurricane, and how to file and follow up on your claim. We’ll also cover what to do if your claim is delayed, underpaid, or denied, and when it might be time to seek legal assistance.

Our goal is to provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to navigate this complex process with confidence, minimizing the impact on your recovery and helping you get back on your feet as quickly as possible. Whether you’re currently facing damage from a recent hurricane or you’re looking to prepare for the future, Strickland and Kendall is here to support you every step of the way.

Understanding Your Insurance Policy

Before a hurricane ever makes landfall, one of the most critical steps you can take as a homeowner is to thoroughly understand your insurance policy. This foundational knowledge can significantly impact your ability to make a successful insurance claim after a hurricane. Here, we break down the essentials you need to know and common misconceptions to avoid, ensuring you’re well-prepared before disaster strikes.

Know What Your Policy Covers

Many homeowners assume that their standard insurance policy covers all hurricane-related damages, but this isn’t always the case. It’s essential to know the specifics of what your policy includes and excludes. Commonly, homeowners’ insurance policies cover wind damage but may exclude flood damage, which often requires a separate policy.

Understand Your Deductibles

Hurricane deductibles are different from other types of deductibles on your insurance policy. They are usually a percentage of the insured value of your home, not a flat dollar amount. Knowing how much you’re responsible for can help you financially prepare for the aftermath of a storm.

Review Policy Limits and Additional Coverages

Ensure you know the limits of your coverage and whether it’s sufficient to cover potential hurricane damages. Some policies may offer additional coverages for temporary living expenses if your home is uninhabitable. It’s also wise to understand the replacement cost coverage versus actual cash value coverage, as this will affect how much you can recover.

Update Your Policy as Needed

Life changes, such as home renovations or purchasing valuable personal property, can affect your insurance needs. Regularly reviewing and updating your policy ensures that your coverage matches your current situation, providing you with adequate protection.

Tips for a Comprehensive Policy Review

  • Schedule an Annual Review: Make it a habit to review your policy with your insurance agent or a legal expert annually.
  • Ask Questions: If there’s anything in your policy you don’t understand, ask for clarification. It’s important that you fully comprehend the scope of your coverage.
  • Document Your Belongings: Keep an up-to-date inventory of your possessions. This documentation can be invaluable when filing a claim for personal property damages.

Understanding your homeowner’s insurance policy is the first step in ensuring that you’re adequately prepared for a hurricane. It provides a solid foundation for making effective insurance claims, should the need arise. In the following sections, we’ll guide you through the immediate steps to take after a hurricane, how to fight your insurance claim, and how to navigate the claims process for the best possible outcome.

Example Case: Overcoming Underpayment in Florida

Client Challenge: After Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in Florida, a homeowner in Miami faced significant property damage. Despite having a comprehensive insurance policy, the insurance company’s settlement offer was significantly lower than the estimated repair costs. The homeowner was left feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to bridge the gap between the settlement offer and the actual repair expenses.

Outcome: Leveraging our extensive experience with hurricane-related insurance claims and our understanding of the insurance industry’s tactics, a revised settlement was negotiated that more accurately reflected the true cost of the damages. The homeowner received a settlement that covered the full extent of the repair costs, allowing them to fully restore their home.

Immediate Steps After a Hurricane

In the wake of a hurricane, the path to recovery can seem daunting. While Strickland and Kendall specializes in assisting homeowners when insurance companies are reluctant to pay what they should, the initial steps you take immediately following a storm are crucial. These actions not only ensure your safety but also strengthen your position should you need to fight for your insurance claim with our assistance. Here’s what to do right after the hurricane passes to lay the groundwork for a successful insurance claim process.

Ensure Safety and Secure Your Property

  • Safety First: Your and your family’s safety is paramount. Before assessing any damage, ensure that it’s safe to do so. Watch out for hazards like downed power lines, gas leaks, and structural damages.
  • Prevent Further Damage: If possible, take temporary measures to prevent further damage to your property. This could include covering broken windows with tarps or boarding them up. Keep in mind, these initial steps are about preventing additional harm; comprehensive repairs should wait until after your claim is processed.

Document the Damage Thoroughly

  • Take Photos and Videos: As soon as it’s safe, document all damages with photos and videos. These visuals are compelling evidence for your claim, showcasing the extent of the destruction.
  • Make a List: Alongside visual documentation, create a detailed list of all damaged or lost items. Include descriptions, where you purchased them, and their approximate age. This list will be invaluable when detailing your losses to the insurance company.

Report Your Claim Promptly

  • Timely Notification: Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the damage. While Strickland and Kendall come into play when disputes arise, initiating your claim promptly is a critical first step.
  • Record Details: Keep detailed notes of all conversations with your insurance company, including the names of any representatives you speak with, what was discussed, and any promises or instructions given.

Preserve Evidence and Keep Records

  • Evidence Preservation: Store all documentation, receipts (for repairs or temporary measures taken), and correspondence with your insurance company. This evidence is crucial if your claim is underpaid, delayed, or denied, and you need legal representation to challenge the insurer’s decision.
  • Detailed Records: Maintain a comprehensive file of all claim-related documents. This organized approach can significantly expedite the process if Strickland and Kendall need to intervene on your behalf.

The aftermath of a hurricane is overwhelming, but taking these steps can not only mitigate further loss but also strengthen your case, should your insurance claim encounter hurdles. If your insurance company is not upholding their obligations, Strickland and Kendall is here to fight for your rights, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve for your losses. In the next section, we’ll guide you through filing your insurance claim, a pivotal step towards recovery and where our expertise becomes most beneficial.

Example Case: Resolving Claim Delays in Louisiana

Client Challenge: In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, a homeowner in Lake Charles, Louisiana, struggled with prolonged delays in their insurance claim processing. Months had passed without any significant progress, leaving the homeowner in a precarious financial and living situation, unable to begin the necessary repairs.

Outcome: Through persistent negotiation and leveraging the law, the claim process was expedited. The insurance company acknowledged the oversight and expedited the claim, resulting in a timely and fair settlement for the homeowner. The client was able to proceed with repairing their home, thanks to the legal intervention.

Filing Your Insurance Claim

After ensuring your safety and documenting the damage, the next crucial step is to file your insurance claim. This process can be intricate and, at times, frustrating. While Strickland and Kendall’s expertise is in advocating for homeowners when insurance companies fail to pay what they should, understanding how to effectively file your claim is fundamental. Here’s a guide to help you navigate this process smoothly, setting the stage for a successful resolution, with or without legal intervention.

Initiate the Claim with Detailed Information

  • Contact Your Insurance Company: Begin by notifying your insurance company of your intent to file a claim. Use the documentation you’ve prepared to provide detailed information about the extent of the damage.
  • Information to Include: When you report the damage, be ready to provide your policy number, a thorough description of the damage, and any immediate steps you’ve taken to mitigate further loss. The more information you can provide upfront, the better.

Fill Out Claim Forms Accurately

  • Complete All Required Forms: Your insurance company will likely send you claim forms to fill out. Fill these out as accurately and comprehensively as possible. Incomplete or inaccurately filled forms can delay the process.
  • Ask for Clarification: If any questions on the forms are unclear, don’t hesitate to ask your insurance representative for clarification. Misunderstandings can lead to inaccuracies that might affect your claim.

Provide Evidence of Damage

  • Submit Documentation: Along with the claim forms, submit all evidence of the damage you’ve collected. This includes photos, videos, and your detailed list of damaged or lost items. This evidence is crucial for substantiating your claim.
  • Keep Copies: Ensure you keep copies of all documents and evidence you submit. This will be important if there are any disputes or if you need to escalate your claim with legal assistance.

Prepare for the Adjuster’s Visit

  • Understand the Role of the Adjuster: An insurance adjuster will be sent by your insurance company to assess the damage. They play a crucial role in determining how much the insurance company will pay for your losses.
  • Be Prepared: Have all your documentation ready to show the adjuster. This includes your list of damages, receipts for any immediate repairs or protective measures you’ve taken, and any estimates you’ve received for repairs.

Follow Up and Keep Records

  • Regular Updates: Stay in regular contact with your insurance company to check the status of your claim. Persistence can help ensure your claim is processed in a timely manner.
  • Document Interactions: Keep detailed records of all your interactions with the insurance company and adjuster, including dates, names, and summaries of conversations.

Filing an insurance claim after a hurricane can be a complex process. However, by taking these steps, you can navigate it more effectively, laying a strong foundation for your claim. Should you encounter resistance from your insurance company in fulfilling their obligation, Strickland and Kendall is here to advocate on your behalf. Our expertise in insurance disputes means we’re well-equipped to help you challenge underpayments, delays, or denials, ensuring you receive the compensation you’re rightfully owed.

In the following sections, we’ll explore how to navigate the claims process and when it’s time to seek legal help, reinforcing your path to recovery with Strickland and Kendall’s support.

Navigating the Claims Process

Successfully navigating the insurance claims process after a hurricane involves more than just submitting your claim; it requires active engagement and, sometimes, strategic negotiation. While Strickland and Kendall’s legal expertise is reserved for instances where insurance companies underpay, delay, or deny claims unjustly, understanding the steps to effectively navigate the claims process can empower you as a homeowner. Here’s how you can proactively manage your claim, ensuring you’re positioned strongly should you need to involve legal assistance.

Understanding the Insurance Company’s Assessment

  • Adjuster’s Evaluation: After you file your claim, the insurance company will send an adjuster to evaluate the damage. This assessment plays a crucial role in determining the settlement offer.
  • Provide Comprehensive Evidence: During the adjuster’s visit, present all the evidence you’ve gathered of the damage. The more detailed information the adjuster has, the more accurate their assessment will be.
  • Ask Questions: Use this opportunity to understand the adjuster’s process, ask about the timeline for processing your claim, and inquire how the settlement amount will be determined.

Dealing with Delays, Underpayments, or Denials

  • Stay Proactive: If you experience delays in the processing of your claim, continue to follow up regularly with your insurance company. Persistent communication can help keep your claim on track.
  • Review the Settlement Offer: Once you receive a settlement offer, review it carefully. If it seems insufficient to cover your damages or losses, you may need to dispute the amount.
  • Understand Your Rights: If your claim is underpaid, delayed significantly, or outright denied, it’s important to know that you have rights. This is where Strickland and Kendall can step in to provide the legal support you need.

Keeping Detailed Records and Follow-ups

  • Document Everything: Keep a detailed log of all communications with your insurance company, including dates, the names of the people you spoke with, and a summary of the conversation. This documentation will be invaluable if you need to escalate your claim.
  • Maintain Patience and Persistence: The claims process can be lengthy and frustrating. However, maintaining your patience while persistently following up can lead to a more favorable outcome.

When to Seek Legal Help

If you find that your insurance company is not responding adequately to your claim, or if the settlement offer is not sufficient to cover your damages, it may be time to seek legal assistance. Strickland and Kendall specializes in helping homeowners fight for their rights in these situations. Our team can:

  • Review Your Claim: We will review the details of your claim, the evidence you have collected, and the correspondence with your insurance company to assess the strength of your case.
  • Negotiate on Your Behalf: Our legal experts can negotiate with the insurance company, advocating for a fair settlement that adequately covers your losses.
  • Legal Action: If necessary, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Navigating the insurance claims process after a hurricane can be overwhelming, but by taking these proactive steps and knowing when to seek professional assistance, you can ensure your rights are protected. Strickland and Kendall is dedicated to supporting homeowners through this challenging time, providing the expertise and legal muscle needed to fight back against unjust insurance company practices.

Get on the Road to Recovery after a Hurricane

Navigating the aftermath of a hurricane, especially when it comes to dealing with insurance claims, can be a daunting process. It requires not only a thorough understanding of your insurance policy and the claims process but also persistence and, in some cases, legal intervention to ensure you receive fair compensation. Remember, the immediate steps you take following a hurricane, how effectively you file your claim, and your ability to navigate the claims process are all critical components in safeguarding your home and financial well-being.

At Strickland and Kendall, we understand the challenges you face during these turbulent times. Our commitment is to stand by homeowners, offering our legal expertise to fight against insurance companies that fail to honor their obligations. Whether you’re facing delays, underpayments, or denials, we’re here to ensure your voice is heard and your rights are protected.

We hope this blog has provided you with valuable insights into making and winning insurance claims after a hurricane. Remember, preparation and knowledge are your best allies, and when those aren’t enough, Strickland and Kendall is here to support you every step of the way.