Hurricane Claims Attorney Serving the State of Florida
For many years, the risk of significant property loss resulting from a Florida hurricane seemed small. Many homes on the Florida coast were built during the 1970s and 1980s, a period of relatively inactive hurricane formation. Similarly, many people who move to Florida from elsewhere have never experienced the effects of a violent hurricane or tropical storm.
But these events can be devastating, and the full range of losses may not be evident until the dust settles. The experienced and compassionate Florida hurricane claims lawyer at James Horne Law can help those experiencing property damage or other losses from extreme weather events.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), tropical cyclones and hurricanes have been responsible for most weather-related disasters in the country since 1980. The agency uses the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale to categorize hurricanes based on wind speed. The wind scale estimates potential property damage; however, hurricanes of all categories can produce surges, rain-induced floods, and tornados.
The categories include the following:
- Category 1: Hazardous winds that can produce some damage;
- Category 2: Extremely dangerous that can cause extensive damage;
- Category 3: Major devastating damage is likely;
- Category 4: Major catastrophic damage will occur; and
- Category 5: Major catastrophic damage will occur, and many homes will be destroyed.
Category 3 through Category 5 hurricanes often produce potent winds, storm surges, and inland flooding that can cause catastrophic damage to residential structures and businesses. The surges and flooding may collapse structures from the hydrodynamic forces that moving water causes, especially when waves are present.
Further, as a wave grows and strikes a building, the current can generate powerful wave loads that are often enough to destroy a wall or foundation.
Types of Losses After a Florida Hurricane
The costs of property damage are just one aspect of the wide-ranging individual and societal impact of hurricanes. The financial implications of Florida hurricanes are wide-ranging and may include any of the following.
Recent storms have shown that inland and coastal areas are at risk from hurricane damage. These hurricanes have exposed the vulnerability of many existing Florida homes in hurricane zones. Roofs are particularly prone to damage, and once a roof collapses, the rest of the home’s structure often succumbs to failure.
Additionally, wind-borne debris can cause substantial damage to windows and doors. Flooding from a hurricane can also impact a home’s air conditioning system, hot-water boilers, computer equipment, steam boilers, and sterilizers.
Rebuilding homes that were destroyed by a hurricane does not occur quickly. On average, it takes nearly 18 months to repair a moderately damaged house after a major storm. The amount of time for homes that experience severe damage or complete destruction increases to over two years.
In addition to the financial impact of property loss, many people experience lost income following a violent hurricane. These losses include reduced work hours, loss of a job, or layoffs. Additionally, those who have a home-based business may completely lose their income.
Many people who weather a hurricane experience losses beyond damage to their homes. Individuals may need to pay for supplies, cleanup, and fuel for generators. Additionally, homeowners may need to pay for temporary housing, landscaping expenses, and commuting costs.
To add insult to injury, many people experience additional costs related to increased insurance prices after a hurricane.
Homeowners Insurance Coverage for Hurricanes and Tropical Storms
Many Florida homes were built when hurricanes were seen as infrequent events, and the storms were often low intensity. As a result, Florida homeowners and government agencies assessed the risk of hurricane damage as manageable with private home insurance.
However, the increasing intensity of storms has proven devastating, and many insurance policies do not cover extensive hurricane damage.
Generally, homeowners insurance policies cover hurricane wind damage but not flooding. Many policies require homeowners to pay separate deductibles for hurricane damage.
It is important that homeowners consult with an experienced hurricane claims attorney to ensure that their policy will provide them with the coverage they might need.
In addition, a hurricane damage claims attorney can help homeowners navigate the complex insurance process and secure the payout the homeowner deserves. An attorney can help in situations where the insurance company:
- Denies the policyholder has coverage,
- Denies coverage based on an exclusion,
- Delays processing or paying out a claim, or
- Undervalues damage.
Insurance companies are often unclear on precisely what their policies cover, leaving homeowners frustrated. A Florida hurricane claims lawyer can make this process as efficient as possible.
Recoverable Damages After a Florida Hurricane
Although policies can drastically vary, generally, many homeowners insurance policies cover replacement or repair costs for:
- Roof damage;
- Damage from fallen trees and structures;
- Damage to a home’s siding;
- Broken windows and doors;
- Food spoilage related to extended power outages; and
- Garage, shed, and fence damage.
Many insurance companies go to great lengths to deny their customers coverage. A Florida hurricane damage claims attorney can ensure homeowners get the compensation they deserve after a storm.
Steps to Prevent Hurricane Damage
There are many steps that homeowners can take to increase the survivability of their homes. These steps include:
- Coating a waterproof barrier to the roof sheathing,
- Re-roofing to protect against strong winds,
- Replacing roof staples with a more reliable fastener,
- Installing powerful storm shutters,
- Building aerodynamic homes, and
- Strengthening roof bracing and foundation connections.
While it is best to take these steps during the construction phase, post-construction measures can also strengthen residential structures.
Was Your Hurricane Claim Denied by the Insurance Company? Contact a Florida Hurricane Lawyer
Suffering through the aftermath of a hurricane can be overwhelming, especially when your homeowners insurance company denies your claim. However, this is not a fight you need to take on alone.
At James Horne Law, PA, we help homeowners obtain the coverage they deserve—and paid for—by aggressively negotiating on their behalf. We have more than 10 years of experience dealing with difficult insurance companies, and we know what it takes to convince them to pay a claim.