When you need to file an insurance claim after damage occurs to your home or property, a claims adjuster will provide you with a settlement amount based on what he or she believes is fair compensation for all damaged items.
Actual value and cost of replacement
The amount of compensation offered comes down to the type of policy you purchased in the first place. Namely, you should understand if you have a “cost of replacement” or an “actual value” policy.
If your policy covers the cost of replacement, your insurance company will provide you with a dollar amount reflecting what it believes it would cost to replace a damaged item with one of similar type and quality. This number does not factor in any depreciation due to wear and tear, age or obsoleteness.
With an actual value policy, your insurer would provide you with the amount of money it would cost to replace the damaged item, but with its depreciation deducted from the amount.
Imagine a major storm hits and a large tree falls through your roof and into your kitchen, destroying your refrigerator, which you’ve had for six years. If your homeowners’ insurance policy covers cost of replacement, it would provide you with funds to replace the appliance with a brand-new one. An actual value policy, on the other hand, would only pay out a portion of the cost of a new appliance, as it would consider the age of the refrigerator to have depreciated its real value.
The same would be true for structural damage to your home or property, such as to the roof. A cost of replacement policy would cover all the costs of installing a completely new roof, while an actual value policy may only cover a certain percentage.
Guaranteed replacement cost policies
Regardless of the type of homeowners’ insurance policy you’ve purchased, it’s more likely than not that it will cover the costs of completely rebuilding your house if it gets severely damaged in a natural disaster. However, it’s important to make sure your policy’s value keeps up with construction costs in your area. If it has, then your insurance policy should allow you to rebuild your property and remain under its coverage limits.
To provide yourself with extra assurance, you may wish to explore purchasing an extended replacement cost policy. Through this coverage, insurance companies will offer to pay out a certain amount over the policy limit (usually 10 to 20 percent) if you need to rebuild your home. This allows you more leeway if construction costs have gone up in your local market and you have not been able to update your policy accordingly.
It’s worth noting that neither of these policies guarantees that your new home will be of the same or greater quality than the one that got destroyed.
Seeking legal assistance
If you need to file a homeowners’ insurance claim and are unsure you’re getting a fair settlement from your insurer, you may need to explore your legal options. To learn more, meet with an Orlando insurance disputes lawyer at Johnson & Williams, P.A.
Understanding the Process for Settling an Insurance Claim After a Hurricane or Natural Disaster
When you live in Florida, you know that hurricanes are a regular threat. When a major storm strikes, you may need to file a claim with your homeowners’ insurance provider to cover the costs of replacing or repairing damaged items.
The first step in this process is to get in touch with your insurance company to determine if there are any time limits on filing a claim, if your claim will likely exceed your deductible and if you will need to get estimates for making repairs.
Once you’ve received this basic information, you may need to take several additional actions, depending on your circumstances and the extent of the damage. This may include the following:
Make temporary repairs: If there are clear hazards on your property that are likely to cause further damage, you should take steps to address them right away. An example might include a large tree that’s already halfway down and that, if it falls completely, would go crashing through your roof. Keep all receipts of these repairs so you can get reimbursed for them later.
Relocate if necessary: In some cases, the damage to your home may be so substantial that you can no longer live in the property until repairs are made. Be sure to keep careful records of the expenses associated with your relocation, especially if you need to stay in a hotel.
Prepare for the claims adjuster: If the damage to your property is severe, your insurance provider will likely send out a claims adjuster to assess it. Before this visit, try to collect as much information you can regarding all damaged items. This should include receipts, dates of purchase and estimates of what it would cost to replace them.
How do claims get processed?
A hurricane or major storm can place extreme demands on insurance companies, which suddenly must deal with an influx of claims. In some instances, the state of Florida will require insurers to send their adjusters to all claimants’ properties within a certain timeframe. While this can help ensure faster service, it can also cause adjusters to rush through the process and provide inaccurate assessments.
If you believe the adjuster’s initial assessment of the damage to your property was inaccurate or incomplete, you may ask for a follow-up visit. You can do this even if your insurance company has already issued a check. If you find additional damage the adjuster missed the first time around, you may reopen the claim and seek further compensation.
As an alternative to sending out an adjuster, some insurers will provide you with a proof of loss form. You would use this form to inventory all damaged items and the amount of money you would like to claim for each. Insurance providers often use proof of loss forms for claims with lower levels of damage, especially when they are dealing with a large volume of claims after a hurricane.
In most situations, you will be able to choose the contractor that makes repairs to your property. It’s up to you to ensure your contractor is legitimate and is using quality materials and construction methods. And, it is usually best to wait to solicit bids until an insurance claims adjuster has visited your property to assess the damage.
The aftermath of hurricane in Florida can be chaotic if you are dealing with extensive property damage. If you need legal assistance as you work your way through the claims process, or you believe your insurance company has acted in bad faith, contact a skilled Orlando insurance claims attorney at Johnson & Williams, P.A.