Winter Park is renowned for its historic architecture and lakeside real estate, both of which are enjoyed year-round by residents and guests alike. But the area’s buildings, as attractive as they may be, are also vulnerable to damage from severe weather. The destructive power of heavy storms — such as thunderstorms, windstorms, tropical storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes — can structurally damage homes and businesses and affect the welfare of residents, especially those who depend on tourism dollars from visitors.
In the event of storm damage, the one glimmer of hope a property owner has is filing an insurance claim. However, storm damage claims are usually complicated by limitations in the policy coverage and by the fact that insurance companies are motivated to limit or deny as many claims as possible. The result is that many property owners settle for lower payments than they deserve, or their claims are denied altogether. And while denied claims can be appealed, most insurance companies won’t overturn their initial decisions unless pressure is applied by an attorney.
The insurance dispute attorneys in Winter Park, FL, with Barry Bruce Demetriades Simon LLP have settled countless storm damage claim disputes in which insurance companies used every loophole imaginable to avoid responsibility. We put forward the most persuasive arguments to help our clients receive maximum payouts. When you’re filing or contesting a claim, don’t just accept what the insurance company tells you. Instead, let the attorneys with our civil litigation law firm negotiate on your behalf. Using our experience and knowledge of the insurance industry, we’ll fight aggressively for every dollar that you’re owed so you can rebuild the property, remediate the damage, and resume your life.
The aftermath from a severe storm often includes a long list of physical damage to properties. But the nature of the damage is predominantly determined by factors such as the types of buildings present, severity of the storm, and residents’ preemptive storm preparations. In city’s with historical buildings, tree-filled landscapes, and locations near water, property owners file the following common types of storm damage claims: property damage caused by fallen trees or limbs; roof damage from strong winds; lightning damage to trees and tall buildings; structural and water damage from flooding; property damage from sewer back-up due to flooding; and fire damage caused by felled electrical lines.
In some cases, storm damage is attributed to faulty construction or another issue that merits an additional claim. The types of insurance claims most commonly paired with a storm damage claim include claims for construction defects as well as structural, fire, water, or wind damage claims, and, if the insurance company neglects or denies the claim, delayed or denied claims. Based on the circumstances of the property damage, our civil litigation lawyers will determine which claims are not only the most suitable but also have the best chance of success.
Property owner insurance coverages vary regarding the types of storm damage they cover. In many cases, homeowners and business owners must purchase supplemental coverage to adequately protect their property from the full breadth of potential damage. Flooding is one example of this. Even though floods are commonly associated with severe weather phenomena, flood damage is not typically covered by a property insurance policy — instead, a separate flood insurance policy is required. As a result, if a tropical storm strikes the area, the homeowner’s insurance coverage would likely cover wind damage, such as roof repairs, but not water damage or mold remediation from flooding. Coverage gaps such as this may likewise apply to other types of storms that are common to Florida, such as hurricanes. To avoid experiencing lapses in coverage, our insurance attorneys can advise you on the right questions to ask the insurance company. If the insurance company provides you with misleading information or leads you to believe the policy provides a higher degree of coverage than its written terms, this may be grounds for a claim dispute.
Ensuring a successful storm damage claim starts with buying the proper insurance coverage. In addition to property insurance, property owners usually need supplemental coverage for floods and hurricanes. Following the occurrence of storm damage, you should contact the insurance company to file a claim as soon as possible. Included in the paperwork you submit will be a list of the property damage along with an estimated value of the losses. The insurance company will then send a claims adjuster to evaluate the cost of repairs on the property. This sum will be constrained by your policy coverage and may be substantially lower than the actual cost of repairs as a whole for the property. For that reason, it’s worthwhile to also hire an independent adjuster to provide a secondary cost estimate, which our attorneys can later use in negotiations with the insurance company. In addition to claims dispute resolutions, our insurance attorneys in Winter Park assist with all of the steps of claims filing. Having us review the paperwork up front, for example, streamlines the process by avoiding errors and providing only the most applicable information to the insurance company.
Most property insurance policies also require the policyholder’s deductible to be met before the insurance company pays for damages. A deductible is a predetermined figure or percentage calculated based on the whole policy amount. The minute details of an insurance policy can be confusing to those without specialized knowledge of the insurance industry. That’s why hiring a knowledgeable insurance attorney to advocate for your interests is essential to realizing an adequate insurance payout that allows you to resume your life as usual after a storm.
No matter the reason for the storm damage claim, insurance companies will often attempt to avoid paying their clients by using one of several tactics. One is arguing that the policy coverage extends only to certain kinds of storm damage, but not the type listed in the claim. Another tactic is to claim the property owner didn’t take sufficient preventative measures to protect their property from the storm. For example, if a fallen tree breaks the main water line in your yard, the insurance company may argue that the property owner is at fault for failing to preemptively shut off the water supply. Late or delinquent policy payments or a failure to document storm damage satisfactorily also could be used by the insurance company as the rationale for a claim denial.
But just as insurance companies have several techniques for denying claims, so too do policyholders have avenues they can pursue to receive the payments they’re owed. If the type of storm damage that occurred was included in the policy coverage, and the policyholder documented the damage per the policy’s requirements, the insurance company is obligated to approve and pay the claim. If the claim is still denied or the insurer acted in bad faith, contact an insurance dispute lawyer with Pursiano Barry Bruce Demetriades Simon LLP. We will investigate the matter and find any evidence that proves the bad faith insurance claim was denied due to improper conduct on the part of the insurance company.
When storm damage claims are denied, including bad faith insurance claims, they can be appealed or otherwise overturned because the insurance company had no legal basis for the claim denial, failed to investigate the storm damage adequately, or delayed the investigation intentionally. Other successfully disputed claim denials have occurred when the insurance company failed to reveal an adequate amount of coverage information upfront, was deliberately misleading about the coverage, or erroneously attributed the property damage to causes outside the policy coverage. Though these situations are different, they share one quality: the intervention of an attorney greatly increases the odds that the insurance company will acknowledge its error and rightfully pay out the claim.
If you’re prepared to submit a claim for property damage from a tropical storm, hurricane, or another type of storm, or you have filed a storm damage claim that has been denied, don’t just accept what the insurance company tells you. Contact our storm damage claim attorneys in Winter Park, FL, for assistance with your case. Our insurance lawyers understand the insurance industry and know what it takes to file a successful claim. We can recognize when an insurance company uses loopholes to delay, reduce, or deny a legitimate payout. We also keep our clients in the loop. During your consultation, we will guide you through the case in plain language so you can see how we plan to win you the payout you deserve. Contact us today.