The effects of the hurricanes that hit the United States this fall are still being felt throughout the southeastern part of the country. Hurricane Irma hit Florida especially hard, leaving many residents with a significant amount of property damage to deal with in the weeks and months after.
Since Irma hit, Florida residents have filed approximately 689,000 insurance claims totaling about $5.9 billion. About 127,000 of those claims came in southwest Florida. More than 30,000 claims filed in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties were ultimately denied. For example, one 94-year-old homeowner had an insurance claim denied by State Farm after her home suffered ceiling damage in the garage, bathroom and living room. According to the company, the cost of the damage did not meet the woman’s deductible.
Having an insurance claim denied after a hurricane can feel like a dire situation, but there are some steps you can take to adjust your claim and give it a better chance at success.
Working with an Attorney After a Claim Denial
First, you can greatly increase your chances of having your claim approved if you work with an attorney. During your first meeting with legal counsel, bring in your denial letter and/or any claim offers you have received. A lawyer will determine if you are doing something wrong that has led to a claim denial and what you can do to improve your chances of a successful claim. He or she will also tell you if the offer you have received is fair, and if not, how you can best proceed.
Although some claim battles can end up in court, most of the time, an attorney can help you reach a settlement outside of court. This helps avoid additional time wasted and legal fees.
There are a few common reasons why homeowners’ insurance claims get denied:
- Negligence: The damage to your home would not have been as severe were it not for some negligence on your part. For example, if your roof was already in bad condition and should have been repaired years earlier, an insurer could reject your claim.
- Lack of coverage: The specific type of damage is not covered based on the language of your policy.
- Insufficient coverage: If the cost to repair your home exceeds the replacement cost or actual cash value, your repairs will not be fully covered.
- Waited too long: There are rules regarding how long you can wait to file a claim before it will automatically be denied.
An attorney will understand how to prevent these pitfalls from affecting your claim so that you can get the money you need to repair your home. For further guidance on this important issue for Florida homeowners, meet with a trusted Orlando insurance claims attorney at Johnson & Williams, P.A. (407) 245-1268