Navigating the Complexities of Wind vs. Water Damage Claims After a Florida Hurricane
Dealing with insurance claims after a hurricane can be incredibly frustrating and complex, especially when trying to determine if the damage was caused by wind or water. A property damage lawyer in Florida helps homeowners and business owners recover the maximum compensation for their hurricane property damage. This guide will provide key information on navigating wind vs. water damage claims after a hurricane in Florida.
If you’ve suffered property damage, you do not have to navigate the claims process alone. Our team has years of experience helping clients win cases throughout South Florida. For your free consultation, call Cernitz Law today at 305-370-3255.
Understanding Wind Damage vs. Flood Damage
A major challenge with hurricane claims is distinguishing between wind damage and flood damage. Hurricane damage insurance policies generally cover wind damage, while flood damage requires separate flood insurance. Insurance companies often dispute or underpay claims by alleging damage was caused by flooding rather than wind. With a property damage lawyer, you can fight to prove damage came from wind to maximize your claim payout.
Wind damage includes:
Trees or branches falling on your property
Roof damage from wind lifting and peeling shingles
Broken windows from wind pressure and flying debris
Structural damage to walls or ceilings from wind forces
Water damage includes:
Flooding from heavy rains or storm surge
Seepage through walls and foundations
Proper investigation is key to identifying the primary cause as wind or flood. An experienced property damage attorney will know what evidence to gather.
Documenting the Damage
Thoroughly documenting damage is crucial for any hurricane damage claim. Taking ample photos and videos showing the full extent of the destruction before cleanup begins. Zoom in on particular areas of damage. Document where trees fell and collect any branches or debris as evidence. Note down eyewitness accounts of the wind speed and direction. Track flooding levels around the property. Compile receipts for temporary repairs. Maintain all records of communications with your insurance company and adjuster.
Comprehensive documentation provides the proof needed to maximize your payout and fight improper claim denials. Do not let the insurance company sway your claim without concrete evidence.
Navigating Insurance Policies
Understanding what your insurance policies cover is key to recovering your losses after a hurricane.
Overview of policy: Hurricane or wind damage in Florida is typically covered under standard homeowners or commercial property insurance. This includes both structural damage and loss of personal contents.
Flood insurance: Damage from heavy rainfall, storm surge, or flooding requires separate flood coverage, either through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program or private insurers. Lack of flood insurance can severely limit your claim, so review your policies closely.
Additional living expenses: Most policies also cover temporary housing, food, and other costs if your property is uninhabitable after a hurricane. Save all receipts.
Loss of income: For commercial policies, business interruption coverage can compensate for income lost due to hurricane damage suspending your operations.
Fighting Denied or Underpaid Claims
Despite proper documentation, many hurricane claims end up denied or underpaid. Common reasons include:
Alleging damage came from a flooding rather than wind
Claiming damage was pre-existing or from wear-and-tear
Disputing the extent or costs of repairs needed
Applying high deductibles or inadequate policy limits
An experienced hurricane damage attorney knows how to fight improper denials and lowball offers. They independently investigate and extensively document damage origins and costs, and negotiate firmly with insurers and invoke appraisal clauses when needed. If negotiations fail, they take aggressive legal action to recover full compensation owed.
FAQs on Florida Hurricane Damage Claims
1. What should I do if my home is damaged in a hurricane?
Take ample photos/videos before cleanup
Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage
Save receipts for expenses incurred
Contact your insurance agent right away to start the claims process
2. How is hurricane property damage paid for?
Homeowners insurance covers hurricane wind damage
Flood insurance covers water damage from flooding
Save all receipts for temporary housing, repairs, etc. to claim additional living expenses
3. What damage can you claim after a hurricane?
Structural damage like roof, walls, foundation
Interior damage like drywall, floors, furnishings
Electrical, plumbing, HVAC systems
Damage from fallen trees, limbs, debris
Additional living expenses while displaced
Lost business income for commercial policies
4. Does homeowners insurance cover hurricane wind damage?
Yes, standard homeowners insurance primarily covers damage caused directly by hurricane-force winds. This includes damage from flying debris, roof and siding damage, fallen trees, and more. Flooding damage requires separate flood insurance.
5. When should I hire a hurricane claim lawyer?
If your claim is denied, underpaid, or disputed as flood rather than wind damage, a property damage attorney can investigate the damage origins and fight for full compensation you deserve.
Selecting a Property Damage Lawyer in Florida
By understanding key distinctions between wind and flood damage and navigating insurance policies carefully, you can maximize your claim recovery after a devastating hurricane. With an experienced hurricane damage attorney fighting for your interests, you can get fair compensation to rebuild stronger than ever.