If you live in Florida, no one needs to tell you about the property damage that hurricanes cause. The recovery process from a hurricane can be long and, oftentimes, unclear. Here are some steps that you can take to protect yourself and your family from further damage following a hurricane.
Stay away as long as local authorities tell you to. While you may want to begin, literally and figuratively, picking up the pieces, do not do so until you are absolutely sure that it is safe. Hazards in the area could be seriously dangerous. Even when you are told that it is safe to return, take caution. There could still be downed power lines or flooding. In your home, there could be significant structural damage that could cause your walls or floors to collapse. Additionally, there may be nails and glass in the area. If you suspect that your home is unsafe due to hurricane damage, contact your insurance company to discuss potential temporary housing accommodations.
Figure Out What Damage Occurred
Look with your eyes. Things are in a fragile state following a hurricane. Do not cause further damage by moving things around. Things such as downed power lines or gas leaks may warrant a call to 911 so that they can send help to you.
Avoid Further Damage
There are some things that you can do to avoid further damage. In fact, you may have a duty to mitigate your losses. For instance, you can board up broken windows to deter vandals. You may also put a tarp on the roof to prevent additional water damage. Again, only do what is safe to do.
Document the Damage
Document everything carefully after surveying. Make a list of any damaged items and estimate their value. Create a list of the names of the item, manufacturer, age, brand, and when it was purchased. It is much easier to do this if you have a pre-existing list that you can draw from–consider doing this before a hurricane strikes.
Take numerous videos and photos of the damage. Show multiple angles. Be sure to consider the damage to not just your house but also your car and other things in or around the home. Get whatever documentation you have in a safe place. As you get repairs made, be sure to keep all invoices and receipts.
Let Your Insurance Company Know
Once the storm has passed and you can safely determine what the damage is, file a hurricane insurance claim. Be sure to list everything that is damaged when you submit a claim. It is important to note that submitting the claim is often not the end of the story–your insurance company will ensure that your policy covers the damage that you are claiming. There could be delays or denials of coverage. Still, it is important to contact them as soon as you can and submit a claim.
Contact Your Local Emergency Management Office
Your local emergency management office can help you recover from a hurricane by helping you navigate the process of repairing your home. It can also connect you with programs that aid people by providing relief after a hurricane.
Get an Estimate for Your Repairs
Speak to people who are known in the community for doing good work in home repair. Have them come to your property and write up a detailed estimate for the repairs. Make sure to also get the estimates in writing and to keep accurate records of your expenses. Save all bills and receipts for your temporary repairs. Have accurate records of other expenses incurred. Regarding permanent repairs, do not make any until a claims professional has reviewed the damage.
Beware of Scammers
What should you look for? The easiest thing that you can do is only work with contractors or other professionals who have licenses. Check out the status of their license. Additionally, you may consider requesting proof of insurance coverage before hiring a contractor. You can also ask that they give you previous customer references. It may be helpful to get a few offers and compare them so that you get a sense of what it will cost.
Speak to a Homeowners’ Insurance Attorney
Contact our office at 321-342-1759 to speak with one of our homeowners’ insurance attorneys if you would like to discuss the particulars of your situation. We present the material contained on our website and pages, including this Blog, for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute the rendering of legal advice and does not create any attorney-client relationship. If you need legal or other professional advice, you should consult with legal counsel about your particular facts and circumstances. Contact us to see how we may be able to fight for your claim!