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Common Homeowner Claims After A Hurricane In Florida

We are already getting several inquiries from homeowners and renters about Hurricane Irma claims. Disputes often arise with homeowner insurance companies following hurricane damage claims. We handle these disputes on a contingency fee basis, where you don’t pay us anything if there is no recovery, and can sometimes get the insurance company to pay for some or all of your fees.

Common Homeowner Claims After A Hurricane

Some of the common questions and disputes we hear about include:

My Neighbor’s Tree Fell On My House And Property

This is an often litigated dispute over who is responsible for the damage to your house if your neighbor’s tree falls on your house or in your yard. Generally, if the tree was alive when it fell, it is the responsibility of the homeowner whose yard it landed in to remove it and repair any damaged property within the 4 walls of the property.

Think of your property line as extending towards the sky and forming a wall. Anything within that wall, with some exception, is the responsibility of that homeowner’s insurance company to pay for. Anything outside is not. This means you may be able to trim the tree on your property to your property line and leave the rest to your neighbor to worry about. The damage caused by the neighbor’s tree, however, is typically the victim’s responsibility to fix on their own property. There are some exceptions to this general rule, like if the neighbor’s tree was dead or deteriorating prior to falling. In that case, the neighbor was or should have been on notice that the dangerous condition existed and should have removed the tree prior to the storm. The neighbor’s insurance company may be responsible to pay for all damage on your property caused by the tree.

Litigation can arise over whether the tree was dead or alive before it fell, or in subrogation claims against the neighbor by your own insurance company. Typically, even if the neighbor is at fault, your own homeowner’s insurance should pay and then they can subrogate against the neighbor to get their money back. If you have a deductible, you may still be able to go after your neighbor for the deductible if the tree was dead prior to the storm and not properly removed or secured.

Renter’s Insurance Claims For Hurricane Damage

Renter’s insurance should cover all damage to personal property within your apartment or home, and personal property outside, if any. You should look at your policy to determine what it covers. The property owner should have to fix the structure of the property to the studs of the walls, and make it habitable. Your lease may also control who pays for what. We would need to look at your lease, and policy, to determine who is responsible for what damage.

Can A Business Make A Hurricane Claim?

It depends on your policy. Businesses who suffer property damage and lost revenue may be able to make a claim under their Business Owner’s policy, depending on the coverage on the policy. Flood damage would generally be covered under a Business Flood Policy. In calculating your lost revenue, the insurance company may consider your prior 2-3 years of tax returns to figure out a daily rate average, or this current year’s financial statements to figure out a daily average. Disputes may arise over the amount of your claim and we can assist in working towards resolution.

Disputes Over Value Of Property

Most policies should reimburse you the replacement value of your property. It depends on the language of the policy. Regardless, disputes often arise out of how much something is. Insurance companies may try to offer you $500 for a couch that costs $2,000 to replace, or may try to give you less money on the whole item arguing that only part was broken. We can review these claims.

Fixing Roof Tiles Versus Replacing The Roof

A common claim we see after a hurricane is whether the insurance company should pay for minor roof tile repairs or replace the entire roof. The homeowner is faced with a major issue – If the roof tile replacements are not a perfect match, when they try to sell their house they may have issues. A new home purchaser may try to diminish the value of the home arguing that the roof tiles don’t match. This could impact the value by tens of thousands of dollars. The roof tiles should be a perfect match, or the entire roof may need replacement.

Painting Over Or Repainting All?

We see issues arise when a small section of a wall or ceiling is damaged. The problem for the insurance company and homeowner is how to value the damage. The insurance company may try to minimize the value arguing that only a small portion was impact. However, the homeowner may argue that repainting or repairing one section will be obvious and not perfect, and could decrease the value of the home. the homeowner should be entitled to have the entire home repainted or ceiling re-popcorned or repainting if there is any damage to ensure consistent paint and look throughout the property.

How Long Do I Have To Make A Hurricane Irma Claim?

There is generally a 5 year statute of limitation to sue an insurance company over an insurance dispute. However, Florida law generally requires that you put your insurance company on notice of the claim within 3 years following the hurricane. As long as you put them on notice within 3 years, you can make the claim for damages. You can even make a supplemental claim if you discover damage after the initial claim was made.

If you had property damage anywhere in Florida as a result of Hurricane Irma, feel free to give us a call to see if we can assist at 800-337-7755. It’s a free consultation!

We can help with hurricane and flood claims in Key West, Marathon, Cudjoe Key, Upper Keys, Lower Keys, Middle Keys, Miami Dade County, Broward County, Naples, Ft Myers, Ft Lauderdale Beach, Plantation, Cooper City, Miramar, Weston, Tampa, Orlando, Palm Beach County, and in every city and county in Florida.

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