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Miami Florida Insurance Claim Law Blog

Almost a year later, damage remains after Hurricane Irma

Almost a year has passed since Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in Florida, but many homes have still not been repaired. In Brevard, homes and businesses sustained losses of $157 million during the hurricane. People in the county submitted 45,458 insurance claims after the storm. While 93 percent of the claims have been closed, 3,065 were still open as of June 2018.

The county reports that it issued 2,778 re-roof permits between Sept. 10, 2017, and Aug. 1 of this year. Local roofing companies report that calls continue to come in from insurance companies that are working on claims.

Many Florida homeowners are underinsured

According to industry experts, approximately 80 percent of U.S. homes are underinsured. That percentage is likely higher in Florida due to the area's hurricane risk.

A representative from Arden Insurance in Lantana says that Florida homeowners frequently buy insurance policies that don't cover the true value of their property. They also often purchase the wrong types of policies and fail to ensure their policy covers their home in the event of a catastrophe, such as hurricane-related flooding. Unfortunately, these problems usually don't come to light until a homeowner tries to rebuild a destroyed property and finds he or she has inadequate insurance coverage.

Federal flood insurance program receives last-minute renewal

At the end of July, President Donald Trump signed a four-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, a critically important support for Florida homeowners who have or will go through a hurricane season. The program was due to expire at midnight upon the end of the month, but both houses of Congress approved the extension on the last day before the President's signature. This is the seventh short-term reauthorization for the program, which is struggling to survive amid challenges about the costs.

The program allows people to obtain flood insurance policies and renew expired coverage. It provides coverage to 5 million homeowners and businesses across the country, and nearly 2 million of those are in Florida. The program owes over $20 billion to the federal treasury, even though it received a cash injection of $16 billion in 2017. Some have argued that the program is unsustainable and encourages further building in areas prone to flooding, saying that insurance policies should be more costly. Other criticisms of the program have said that it encourages rebuilding of damaged homes on flood-prone land rather than relocation.

Don’t wait to begin your weather damage repairs

Here in Florida, all of us face the very real possibility that a severe weather event may destroy, or at least significantly damage, our homes. If you are a homeowner in Florida, you understand that maintaining a strong grasp on your homeowner's insurance policy is extremely important, because it may be the thing that sets your life back in order after a weather disaster.

If your home sustains significant damage during a storm or some other weather event, then it is wise to file a claim to your insurer as soon as you can, but don't wait on the insurance company to begin repairing your home. Insurance companies may use many different tactics to avoid paying an insurance claim in full, including stalling the process to increase pressure on a homeowner to accept less than they deserve.

Insurance can provide financial protection after a storm hits

If a homeowner in Florida is impacted by a hurricane, a homeowners insurance policy may cover some of the damage incurred in the storm. For instance, a claim may be approved if a tree branch falls through the roof and allows water to enter. However, if water entered on its own, a homeowner would only be covered if he or she had a flood insurance policy.

To fill in the gaps that existing policies may create, individuals may want to purchase what is called parametric coverage. Companies that offer such coverage will write a check without the need for an adjuster to view the damage. However, such payments are generally designed to help cover the deductible on a homeowners, flood or windstorm insurance policy. Those who seek flood insurance can buy it from the National Flood Insurance Program offered by the federal government.

Why flood insurance can be beneficial

Florida residents should know that homeowners insurance policies do not provide any type of flood insurance. It is also important to understand that it can be hard to define what a flood is because it can be caused by anything from poor drainage to the landfall of a hurricane. However, when water enters a home, the damage that water causes may be covered by a policy from the National Flood Insurance Program.

A policy will cover up to $250,000 in losses based on the value of components that are damaged or destroyed. Individuals can also purchase up to $100,000 in additional insurance to cover their personal belongings. The price of a flood insurance policy may partially depend on whether a home is located in a flood zone. Homeowners are encouraged to talk to their insurance agents on a regular basis even if their homes aren't currently in a flood zone.

The importance of hurricane insurance

Hurricanes can cause cost cities and states billions of dollars, and homeowners can lose their entire real estate investment. With these storms expected to get stronger as time goes on, it's become more important than ever to get insurance coverage. While regular property insurance will usually cover the damage that comes from hurricane winds, flooding is considered a separate issue. Homes in Florida, as seen with Hurricane Irma, are particularly vulnerable to rising waters from storm surges.

Many different flood insurance policies are available that cover everything from loss of personal items in the home to heavy structural damage. Premiums for this coverage vary greatly depending on the location of the property and a variety of variables that insurance actuaries use in their calculations. On average, flood insurance costs about $575 per year.

Understanding uplift and the life of your roof

Florida isn't always the calmest place climate-wise, and weather conditions can turn sour quickly. For many people, the heat and sun in the state is enough to make it through the tough times.

Still, damage to your home is likely, especially if there is a hurricane or high winds. One of the issues you may deal with is called "uplift." Uplift is when the wind comes into contact with your home and pushes upwards. When this happens, the wind immediately impacts the roofing, potentially ripping it from its position.

How to buy hurricane or flood coverage

Florida residents may have heard that forecasters are predicting an active tropical storm season. To protect themselves financially, it may be worthwhile to purchase hurricane and flood insurance. Flood insurance is required for a person who lives in a storm zone if he or she is using a government-backed loan to purchase it. While homeowners' insurance policies may cover some damage caused by a storm, it may be best to purchase hurricane insurance.

In many cases, insurance companies will stop providing coverage once a storm has been named. Therefore, it is best to buy it as soon as possible to ensure that a property is protected. Coverage prices depend on where a person lives as well as the level of coverage desired. If someone doesn't have hurricane insurance, it may be possible for him or her to apply for disaster aid from FEMA. Assistance is generally available if a property is located in a dedicated disaster zone.

New insurance company offers hope to homeowners

Florida residents who experienced damage from Hurricane Irma may not have been able to get money from their insurance company because the amount of damage that they experienced didn't exceed the cost of their deductible. In some cases, FEMA has denied claims saying that private insurance companies should pay them instead. However, a company called StormPeace is offering to send money to cover damage done to homes without the need for an inspection or a deductible.

Homeowners should send receipts within 45 days to verify that money was spent on contractor fees or other relevant costs. The money can be used to replace food that went bad after the storm, to repair damage done to carports or to replace or buy a new generator. Coverage ranges from $1,000 to $60,000, and one insurance professional in the area thought that the idea could disrupt the insurance industry in the area.

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