Capable of winds in excess of 155 mph, torrential rainfall and flooding, hurricanes can leave a catastrophic path of destruction in just hours, creating an emotional and financial uncertainty for property owners.
Insurance companies have a legal duty to serve their customers in an ethical manner. If the policyholder has met their obligations, the insurance carrier has a duty to honor the terms of the insurance policy.
Unfortunately, despite being good customers, many hurricane victims are often abandoned by their property insurance company at the very time when they need them the most.
The hurricane claim lawyers of Lutz, Bobo & Telfair, P.A. understand how devastating hurricanes can be. We also know that property insurance policies are legal contracts between you and your insurance company.
If you are a hurricane victim and your property insurance carrier has denied your claim or refused to pay the full value of your damage, know that you have legal rights and that your time to act may be limited.
If your home or business has been damaged by a hurricane, contact our experienced hurricane insurance claim lawyers today. We will fight for your legal rights and hold your insurance company accountable.
We believe that the costs associated with hiring a lawyer shouldn’t prevent anyone in a hurricane claim dispute from obtaining sound legal counsel. Because of this, our law firm handles all hurricane claim disputes on a contingency fee basis. This means there are no out of pocket expenses and you only owe attorney’s fees if we settle your claim or win a favorable verdict in court.
When hurricane claim disputes arise, causation is often the primary issue in the dispute. This is especially true if the damage was caused by multiple factors and more than one policy is involved with obtaining compensation.
There are two factors that will ultimately determine what coverage is available to the property owner to compensate for hurricane damage.
If your home or property was damaged as the result of a hurricane and believe your insurance company is acting in bad faith or have questions or concerns about the homeowners’ insurance policy, we urge you to contact the law firm of Lutz, Bobo & Telfair, P.A. immediately. Our experienced hurricane claim lawyers are waiting to provide assistance immediately.
Most property insurance policies have anti-concurrent causation clause language within them. These clauses are also a very common cause for hurricane claim disputes.
In simple terms, anti-concurrent causation clauses state that if two disasters happen to the property simultaneously and one of the disasters is excluded from the policy, the insurance company has a right to deny the claim.
In a real-world scenario, wind from a hurricane blows the roof off a home. The rain from the hurricane then floods the home. If flooding isn’t included in the homeowner’s policy, the insurer can use an anti-concurrent causation clause defense to completely deny the hurricane claim.
It is common for property insurance polices to also include a pre-existing damage clause. These clauses simply state that the insurer is not responsible for compensation related to damage that existed before a hurricane.
While property owners do have a responsibility to regularly inspect and repair our homes, this clause is often used by insurance companies to deny or devalue legitimate hurricane claims.
For instance, roof damage is by far the most common hurricane insurance claim. It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to deny claims for roof damage, based upon the lack of upkeep or age of the roof in question.
Another common tactic is for insurance companies to blame pre-existing construction defects as the cause of hurricane damage. It may be even more difficult to gain compensation for hurricane damage in an area of a home, if a damage claim has been previously submitted for that area or it has been remodeled.
Under Florida law, property insurance carriers are required to provide hurricane windstorm coverage as a standard offering in their homeowners’ policies. There is one exception to this law. Because Florida is so prone to hurricanes, certain coastal areas have been deemed high-risk.
In these designated high-risk areas, insurance carriers are not required to offer windstorm coverage as part of the normal homeowners’ policy. In order to have windstorm coverage, the property owners in these high-risk areas must purchase a separate policy to supplement their coverage.
Per Florida Statute 627.4025, all wind related damage or loss to your home, from a named storm, should fall under the windstorm “hurricane coverage” portion of your policy. This includes wind damage from tornadoes, if it occurred during the named storm.
When hurricane related windstorm damage claim disputes arise, it’s typically because the insurance company has used an anti-concurrent causation clause or pre-existing damage clause to defend themselves against the hurricane claim.
As a rule, Florida homeowners’ policies will cover wind and rain damage, but won’t cover damage caused by flooding. While certainly required by mortgage lenders for property in certain high-risk areas, in other cases it’s up to the owner.
To protect against hurricane related flood damages, proprty owners must obtain a supplemental policy that is purchased primarily through the National Flood Insurance Program. This insurance program is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Per FEMA, flooding is defined as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from:
In contrast, water damage is typically defined as water that comes from the roof down. An example of this would be wind that ripped shingles off the roof or a downed tree that punctured the roof, allowing rainwater to enter the property.
In instances where both water damage and flood damage are involved, you will typically see disputes arise and subsequently hurricane claim denials. The flood insurance carrier will point the finger at wind and rainwater causing the damage; while the homeowners’ insurance provider will say that flooding caused the damage.
Most people are aware of deductibles when they purchase insurance, such as auto and heath insurance. The same is true with homeowners’ insurance. If you have an insurance policy, you are required to pay a certain amount or percentage, prior to the insurance company covering their portion of the costs.
What many people don’t realize when purchasing homeowners’ insurance in Florida is that there is a second deductible within the policy, known as the hurricane deductible. The hurricane deductible is only applicable to losses stemming from a hurricane or named storm.
If your home is damaged during a hurricane or named storm and you file a homeowners’ policy claim, you will be expected to pay your normal policy deductible in addition to your hurricane deductible, before the insurance company will pay for any damages. The normal hurricane claim deductible in Florida is 2% of the insured value of the property.
When deductibles become a dispute, it usually stems from one of the following, or both:
There’s a reason that our reputation precedes us: our 25-plus year history in Sarasota has garnered us some of the top reviews in the area, from both peers and clients alike. If you are in need of an experienced law firm, with personalized service and a desire to win your case, we’re here for you. Read on to learn more about the key reasons why the law offices of Lutz, Bobo & Telfair, P.A. are considered one of the premier civil trial law firms in Southwest Florida.
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