Claims Arising From Hurricane Ian
I. Do I Even Need an Attorney
If you have suffered property damage and perhaps even loss of business as a result Hurricane Ian, start by promptly contacting your insurance agent and filing a claim in writing. You should also file a claim with https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ if your circumstances qualify. While your gut reaction may be to start remediation efforts as soon as possible, you will want to first make sure you have all of your damage well documented. This includes taking numerous photographs of each item, room, etc., and inventorying the damage. You may want to consult an attorney for guidance throughout this process to try and best set up your claim(s). In some instances, certain insurance companies will promptly investigate and properly and fairly pay your claim. Other times, the investigation is delayed and you may need to start emergency remediation measures prior to an adjuster coming to the property. If you cannot avoid this, then you will again want to document your damage, including any remediation efforts being made and photograph any property being thrown out as well.
Prior to making a claim, you should also consider having an engineer examine your property. Some insurance policies have an exclusion for wind driven rain and most homeowners policies do not cover flood damage (you need a specific flood policy for that). So, you will want to consider the implications under your Policy or Policies if there is wind driven rain, for example, versus damage from the storm surge. By way of example, and with regard to wind driven rain, if your engineer can establish damage to some other part of the home like the roof or a window that allowed the water to enter the home, this could potentially trigger coverage for your claim still, regardless of certain exclusions.
II. What to Look for in a Law Firm
With a hurricane like Ian, numerous law firms will now say that they handle claims for hurricanes. So what should you be considering in selecting the firm that represents you? Hurricane claims oftentimes involve similar issues to construction defect claims. You want to hire a firm with a lot of experience in construction claims because they not only understand construction, but also have access to experts who can do proper evaluation of the damage to your home, condominium building or commercial building, and can propose the necessary remediation and repair and can properly price what it will cost to restore your property.
III. Why Woods Weidenmiller Michetti & Rudnick Should Be Selected for This Hurricane Claim
WWMR has handled a multitude of construction cases in Southwest Florida, involving office towers, condominium towers, luxury homes and other residential and commercial properties. The Firm also handled numerous Hurricane Irma claims. Significantly, the Firm handled the lawsuit on behalf of Collier County on its multi-million dollar Hurricane Irma claim against Lloyds of London.
IV. What is the Process
Some claims can be negotiated by your attorney with the insurance adjuster. Sometimes the insurance company refuses to budge on its low ball offer and the parties are required to submit to an appraisal process under your Policy, whereby each party selects an appraiser to evaluate the amount of the loss and ultimately submit any differences to an umpire. The umpire would then determine the loss settlement amount, which is generally binding. Mediation may also be available under your Policy. If you are experiencing difficulties in negotiating your claim, an attorney can guide you through the requisite procedure under your Policy and any litigation claims you may have available to you should the matter not otherwise get resolved. You have options. Do not let the insurance company tell you otherwise without first seeking legal advice.
V. What if My Insurance Company Stops Responding or Makes a “Low Ball” Offer
If your insurance company stops responding, appears to be unreasonably delaying your claim, or is making an unreasonably low offer on your claim, it is time to consult an attorney.
VI. What Do I Need to Avoid
First and foremost, beware of scammers who will simply take your money and vanish. Next, watch out for unlicensed contractors. You can review licensing information through the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. But, if you are still unsure of whether your contractor is licensed or not, you should contact an attorney for further assistance. There are also private or public adjusters who will work up claims in exchange for a percentage of monies received. An attorney can also review these contracts with adjusters and help negotiate as needed. You should also be cautious of signing any releases or other documents or agreements presented to you by your insurance carrier, contractors, or others until such time that you consult with an attorney.
VII. Other Considerations
You may also need to address the 50% FEMA Rule, which essentially could require an entire structure to be brought into compliance with current flood regulations if the post-storm improvements exceed 50% of the market value of the structure. In some instances, you may want to consult an attorney to determine legally what your options are with respect to remediation or rebuilding of the structure in compliance with not only the FEMA requirements but also applicable building codes.
Our lawyers can also represent you at Examinations Under Oath (“EUOs”), if requested by your insurance company, as well as prepare and file Civil Remedy Notices (“CRNs”) on your disputed claims.
Call us for a consultation today, or email [email protected] to get in touch with an attorney. We’re here to help.Share