How Long After a Hurricane Can I Make a Claim in Florida?
Property damage is not only emotionally devastating but can also break the bank. If you’re a property owner in Florida, you are well aware of the natural disasters that can wreak havoc on your home sweet home, business establishment, or other buildings. Claiming insurance should be a breeze when damages are due to natural disasters like hurricanes or hailstorms — but what about when it’s caused by windstorms, leakages, fires, or vandalism? It’s important to know that there are time limits for filing a Florida property damage claim.
Insurance companies have timelines they must adhere to when customers make a claim, which you as the claimant also must follow. If you don’t stick to the required timeframe, it becomes much more difficult to get compensated for your loss by the insurance company. There are different time limits depending on whether you’re communicating with the insurance company or taking legal action in court.
Notice Requirements for Hurricane & Windstorm Property Damage Claims
In Florida, damage claims from hurricanes and windstorms are very frequent. In fact, Hurricane Irma has caused over one million property damage insurance filings already. So, how long do you have to file a hurricane claim in Florida? According to Florida law, the statute of limitations for suing on an insurance policy is 5 years, however, the notice requirement to report a hurricane loss is 3 years. Although this may seem like a wide timeframe to submit a claim, it’s highly recommended that you report the claim as promptly as possible because the insurer can still deny the claim by arguing that the late notice prejudiced their ability to investigate the claim, even though it was reported in the 3-year period. The statutes of limitations for filing a property damage claim related to the three most recent hurricanes in Florida are as follows:
Top 5 Most Common Types of Property Damage Caused by Hurricanes
Gusting winds and rising water levels are the main ways hurricanes cause property damage, but all hurricanes have the potential to destroy homes and businesses. Below are the most common types of property damages caused by hurricanes in Florida:
1. Roof Damage
Hurricanes are so powerful that even the strongest roofs can endure damage. The most ordinary type of hurricane roof damage is torn-off shingles, sheathing, or framing. And in Category 3 or 4 hurricanes, it’s not unlikely for roofs to be completely ripped off structures – new or old.
2. Interior Damage
Disagreements often arise between homeowners and insurance companies when a home is damaged by water during a harsh storm. This is because doors and windows are commonly blown off their hinges or broken by debris that’s flying around. As a result, wind, rain, and water enter the property, which then causes damage to furniture, documents, electronics, and other belongings inside.
3. Structure & Foundation Damage
Some of the most potent winds can whisk a home away, leaving damage to its structure or foundation. This type of destruction renders a house unlivable until fixed.
4. Equipment Damage
Usually, heating and air conditioning units, pool equipment, appliances, generators, and more need to be replaced after a hurricane because the water damage cripples them.
5. Utility Damage
The extensive damage caused by hurricanes can be extremely inconvenient, often requiring weeks or even months to fix. Power lines, the internet, water systems, and components of the power grid are usually damaged after a hurricane hits.
How to File a Hurricane Property Damage Claim in Florida
As soon as you realize that your property has suffered hurricane damage in Florida, the first step is to notify your insurance company. If you understand the details of your homeowner’s policy beforehand, this process will be much quicker and easier. If you don’t, then go over your policy with a fine-tooth comb. Doing this could stop you from glossing over any information that might cost you when it comes time to file a claim. If anything is unclear, reach out to a Miami property damage lawyer as soon as possible for clarification.
What to Expect from Your Hurricane Insurance Company?
You are legally allowed to repair and replace any damage done to your property by the other party, and they must pay you back for those costs. Furthermore, your insurance company must:
- Provide notice within 14 days that they’ve received your claim.
- Provide notice that your claim is being paid or denied or investigated within 30 days.
- Your insurance company will notify you of their decision to deny your claim and pay partial or full payment within 90 days.
- Ensure that any claim filed includes a maximum amount payable and a deductible, which will later be subtracted from the total compensation paid to you.
Insurance companies are also infamously challenging to have agreements with. They’re not generous with their money and their representatives will do everything they can to pay out the lowest possible amount. We’ve seen it all before; from them claiming a lack of evidence for damage, to saying a window was left open during flooding.
What Happens if I File a Claim Late?
There may be some circumstances that prevent you from filing a claim immediately. If this is the case and you try to file a late claim, more than likely your insurance company will deny your claim due to what is known as the ‘late notice defense.’ This law suggests that if you’re filing for compensation after an event has occurred, the insurance company involved will suffer prejudice because of it. Even if you file your claim late, you may still be eligible for benefits. You will need to show that the insurance company was not prejudiced in its investigation by filing a late claim. This can usually be done by demonstrating that the insurer’s inquiry was not hindered as a result of submitting the claim later than usual.
Contact A Miami Property Damage Attorney Today
After you pay your insurance premium, it’s important to remember that you have a right to the maximum compensation allowed by your policy if you file a property damage claim. If an insurance company denies your claim or doesn’t pay what you deserve, it’s advisable to speak with a North Miami property damage attorney as soon as possible. At Florida Legal, we have helped many Floridians recover from unforeseen events and get the compensation they are owed. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and start planning your property damage claim.