If you have had your hurricane damage insurance claim denied, you may be left feeling hopeless and helpless. Unfortunately, claim denials following a hurricane are all too common. As an example, it is estimated that as many as 75 percent of roof replacements following a hurricane are initially denied, particularly if the roof is older. If you have had your claim denied or have been offered an amount that will not cover your repairs Gulf Coast Insurance Attorneys can help. We have the experience and knowledge to help you get the settlement you are rightfully owed.
Can My Hurricane Claim Be Denied Without an Investigation?
The short answer to this question is that no, your insurance company may not deny your hurricane damage claim before conducting a complete and reasonable claim investigation. Property damage investigations rely on evidence, interviews, and records to determine the legitimacy of the claim. Remember, while the insurance company has certain obligations to you, the insured, you also have specific obligations to your insurer. One of these obligations is to cooperate to the extent possible in the investigation. If you fail to cooperate, the insurance company can deny your claim, even without a thorough investigation.
What are the Most Common Types of Hurricane Damage Insurance Claim Denials?
Aside from the most obvious reason your homeowner’s insurance claim could be denied (you forgot to pay your premium), these are the most common reasons your hurricane damage insurance claim might be denied:
- Like failure to pay your premium, missing the deadline to pay your premium, or having damage that doesn’t exceed the deductible are sure ways to have your hurricane damage claim denied. Deadlines to file your claim can vary, so make sure you know what is required by your insurer. In reality, homeowners that have suffered a hurricane will certainly not be dragging their feet to file a claim. Further, it is highly unlikely—but not impossible—that damage from a hurricane would not exceed your deductible.
- A claims adjuster might say that some of the damage to your property already existed prior to the hurricane, or that you failed to properly maintain your property. Even though homes have normal wear and tear as the years pass, an adjuster might try to use this as an excuse to deny your claim.
- The insurer could claim you failed to take steps to secure your property either before or after the storm hit. While acknowledging the damage to your home was the result of the hurricane, this could be used as a reason to deny your claim—or pay less than the claim is worth. In truth, many times residents are forced to evacuate with little or no time to properly secure belongings prior to when the hurricane hits. After the hurricane, you are likely struggling to find a place for your family to stay, and either cannot get to your house because of floods, or simply do not have the time or ability to secure your home.
- Hurricane claims are often denied because the damage is not covered under your policy. Hurricane damage is caused by a combination of heavy, sustained downpours, and extremely high winds. Homeowners must obtain flood insurance separately from their homeowner’s insurance and may also want to consider windstorm coverage, even though there is a fairly high deductible involved.
The adjuster may deny your claim by saying the damage was caused by flooding rather than wind—a determination that can be highly subjective—and highly suspect. As an example, your adjuster may try to say the water damage to your home was the result of flooding, when in actuality, the heavy winds tore your roof off or broke your windows, allowing the water into your home Be aware that while sometimes there is a legitimate reason to deny your claim, other times it is a bad-faith effort to get you to accept a lowball offer.
What are the Best First Steps Following Hurricane Damage?
There are things you can do immediately following a hurricane that will help ensure a fair settlement—or help your attorney obtain a fair settlement. These include:
- Notify your insurance company that you will be filing a claim.
- Ask your insurer how long it will take until an adjuster arrives.
- If your car was also damaged, make a claim through your auto insurer.
- If you need urgent repairs (removing floodwater, repairing damaged electrical wiring) tell your insurer immediately. Your insurer could send a professional out to take care of the damage, but if you have it repaired yourself make sure you keep every expense receipt.
- Fully document the damage to your home and your belongings. If you have an inventory of contents this will be extremely If you do not, sit down with family members and try to remember items in each room of your home.
- If your roof or windows are damaged, cover up holes, but do not throw away any damaged items until an adjuster has documented them.
- Start a claim log which contains a record of every time you contact your insurer (phone, email, letter) as well as copies of claim forms and photograph copies of the damage to your home.
- Meet with your adjuster, then obtain repair estimates. Once you decide on a contractor, your adjuster will need to approve the cost.
- Be prepared to wait. Because many homes are usually damaged in a hurricane, it can take longer than normal to have your home repaired.
- If you feel like you are getting the “run-around,” contact an attorney who is highly experienced in insurance claim denials.
You’ve Had a Hurricane Damage Insurance Claim Denied—How Can Gulf Coast Insurance Attorneys Help?
Have you had your hurricane damage insurance claim denied? If so, Gulf Coast Insurance Attorneys, can help. Our goal is to make things right for our clients, their families, and their futures. Peter Diiorio understands the toll an insurance denial, delay, or underpayment can take, and we will work hard to get you through the process as quickly and efficiently as possible. Contact Gulf Coast Insurance Attorneys today.