Now that the storm has come and gone the clean-up and repair process can begin. You have insurance for your home but are not sure how the insurance claim works. Let us explain.
Most people reading this have an HO-3 policy – an “all coverage” policy. All sudden and accidental damage is covered unless specifically excluded. Your insurance coverage covers:
- Your home itself.
- Any appurtenant structures (like sheds and fences)
- Loss of Use (reimburses you if you have to move out of the home)
- Personal Property.
Your hurricane deductible is separate from and usually greater than your “normal” deductible. Nowadays, a hurricane deductible is a percentage (2, 5, or 10%) of your total insurance coverage for your home. So, for example, if you have $200,000 worth of insurance and elected a 5% deductible, your deductible is $10,000.
A claim for storm damage is generally begun with a phone call to your insurance company at which time a claim is opened and a claim number assigned. All future correspondence will reference that claim number.
Your insurance company will assign an adjuster to inspect your home and evaluate the damage it incurred and, specifically, how much money it will cost to repair. The “outside” adjuster, the adjuster that goes to your home, is usually separate from the “inside” adjuster or the adjuster that answers calls and evaluates your policy coverages. The outside adjuster scopes the damage and places a dollar figure on the loss. The inside adjuster then compares the scope with the policy exclusions and makes a determination as to what is covered, or the “scope.”
Your insurance company should then issue payment to you based on what it deems a reasonable amount for covered damages. That can and sometimes is the end of the claim.
Our Lawyer’s Involvement
We usually get involved at one of two points in the claims process.
Some people retain us right away. This is the better option. We review your policy, advise you on coverage, ensure that you comply with all policy conditions, and usually perform our own inspection of the damage to compare and to negotiate a larger settlement with the insurance company. We make sure you receive the money you need to make the necessary repairs to your home.
Normally, however, we get involved after a homeowner receives the initial response from the insurance company. Sometimes the response is a straight denial of the claim. A roof can be denied because of “improper installation” of the roof or due to pre-existing “wear and tear.” Water damage can be denied as “flood” damage. We have seen it all.
Also, we get involved when the homeowner receives the check from his insurance company and realizes that the claim has been dramatically underpaid or they simply do not have the funds to make the repairs. It is almost never too late to get us involved and make sure the insurance company pays what is reasonable and fair.
Things to Watch Out For!
- Please document everything. Take pictures, video, and keep all letters.
- Communicate in writing as much as possible.
- Look at your policy for the requirement to submit a “Proof of Loss.” You can lose the entire claim if you miss this.
- Do not accept or deposit a check that is for “full and final” payment of the claim. You very well may discover additional damage when you begin repairs.
If you have any questions or need help with your claim, the time to call us is now. We utilize technology to make things easy and effective – we can videoconference with you and handle all paperwork electronically. There is no need to drive to our offices. Call us today.