September 14, 2016

Florida hurricane insurance

As Florida residents, we’re well aware of the necessity of hurricane insurance. Our state is particularly prone to hurricanes, and nobody can predict the level of damage they’ll bring with them. This is why we need to prepare our homes and property for the worst cast scenario, and that means being ready to file a claim when the time comes. So what should one know about Florida hurricane insurance? How does one prepare for the worst case scenario?

Know what your policy includes

As with any type of insurance, hurricane insurance coverage differs from policy to policy. Your first priority should always be to read your own policy and be informed about what you can expect your insurance company to do. This is important not only so you can prepare yourself for filing any claims, but in the event that your insurance company tries to back out of paying you what’s outlined in your policy, you can put up a fight.

The first mistake that many policy holders make is assuming that their home insurance will take care of any damage that occurs from flooding. Flood insurance is a different policy and is not covered by home insurance. Make sure that you are covered by both policies before you’re faced with the possibility of a hurricane.

While flooding is not covered, your insurance policy may include benefits like re-homing expenses if your home is destroyed, food spoilage if you lose power, or any number of things. Read the fine print of your insurance policy to get a clear idea of how well you and your belongings are covered.

Before the hurricane hits

Aside from being informed of what your hurricane insurance policy entails, there’s one more important step you need to take before you can deal with the damage of any hurricane that comes your way: documentation. If you’re faced with the possibility of a hurricane making landfall, no matter how small (we all know how unpredictable a hurricane can be), make sure you have updated documentation of your belongings.

This means updated photographic evidence of any and all belongings you may make claims for if they’re damaged. Also be sure to track down receipts of your purchases, and detailed descriptions. For example, instead of taking a picture of your laptop and TV and being done with it, find those purchases in your credit card history, and make note of make, model, when you made the purchase, serial numbers, or anything else that can be used to prove that you owned that particular item, without a doubt. You don’t want to give your insurance company room to deny that you owned your belongings.

Finally, be aware that when you file a claim with your hurricane insurance company, you will be paying the deductible from that policy, not your home insurance policy. This deductible may very well be larger, so prepare to be faced with a fairly large out-of-pocket sum.

After the hurricane

If you’ve prepared your documentation and educated yourself on the facts of your insurance policy, the things that will be expected from you after the hurricane hits will be a breeze. However, you should still be prepared for what your Florida hurricane insurance company may try to get away with. For example:

  1. Review your policy. This can’t be said enough. You should know just as much about the service you’ve been paying for as the company itself does.
  2. Do not agree to being recorded. While a recorded statement might make sense, your insurance company may very well twist your words to use them against you. Do not make any statements without an attorney present.
  3. Communicate in writing. The goal is to have everything you communicate match up perfectly. If you communicate in writing, keeping copies for yourself, you can be sure you won’t appear to misspeak if you provide slightly different accounts (which is common when we tell the same story over and over again).
  4. Create a list of everything lost/damaged. Be very clear about what you expect to be covered. This is where the photos and documentation you collected before the hurricane hit come in handy.
  5. Document all damages. Make sure to have some sort of time stamp on before and after photos, as well. It needs to be black-and-white that this damage occurred because of the hurricane.
  6. Keep track of witnesses. This can include anybody who performs repairs on your home due to the hurricane. It can be helpful to have contacts who can testify that the damage was caused by the storm.
  7. Gather any past records. Your insurance company may claim that the damage was either preexisting or unrelated to the hurricane. If you keep track of detailed records and have them handy, you can prove without a shadow of a doubt that your house was damaged in that way because of the hurricane.

You may also be interested in:

Preparing Your Home for Storms
What Causes Water Damage?
How to Avoid Home Insurance Disputes