Hurricanes are always a terrifying prospect. The worst-case scenario is that you lose everything in your home and have no way to pay for repairs. However, hurricanes aren’t the only weather event that can cause damage to homes and businesses. Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, high winds, hail storms, and more can all lead to severe property damage.
So, what should you do before and after these kinds of disasters? This article will give tips on how best to prepare for an event like this and when to contact a hurricane lawyer so there will be no surprises when it comes time to file an insurance claim!
Always be Prepared for a Storm
When preparing for a storm, the best thing you can do is start thinking about it in advance. It may seem overkill and unnecessary to begin worrying about hurricanes months ahead. Still, to be prepared for any emergency, you must plan out every aspect.
Here are some tips to get started:
Make a family plan to ensure everyone knows what to do during an emergency or natural disaster. Have your whole family sit down together and discuss what actions need to be taken in different scenarios. For example:
- How will we communicate if we’re separated?
- Who does what if the power goes out?
- Where will we go when our neighborhood is evacuated? What supplies does each person need?
- What types of pets need special attention?
Having this information written down, so everyone has access makes it easier for everyone involved when an evacuation order is issued or an emergency occurs overnight without warning!
Make Sure You Have Insurance
First, you should ensure that you have a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. Check your policy to see what is covered and what is not and how much coverage you have for flood and wind damage. You must have enough coverage so that if something happens, the cost will be covered by your insurance company.
If you don’t have proper home insurance, it is time to get it before the next big storm!
Have a Family Plan for a Disaster
Having a family plan for a disaster is like having a fire escape plan or an earthquake drill. It’s not something you do once and then forget about because your family will need to review it every year, and it may be best to keep a few extra copies around the house.
Preparing your plan involves considering these three things:
- Who needs to be involved in creating the project?
- What should be included in the plan?
- How can you ensure everyone knows what to do in an emergency?
Take Inventory of Your Home, Belongings, and Other Personal Items
Before the storm, create an inventory of your belongings. This can help you determine what may be lost, damaged, or stolen during the storm and will also come in handy if there is damage to your home. You can start by taking pictures of your valuables and important documents (like birth or financial records).
If possible, take pictures inside the rooms of your house too! It’s easy for things like furniture placement and rugs/carpet color to change over time. This is especially useful when remembering exactly where something was placed before it gets damaged or stolen during the storm.
Also, make sure you keep receipts for everything in case something happens where you need proof that something existed before getting damaged/stolen. This can help speed up insurance claims after a hurricane passes through Florida, so make sure not to throw away any receipts until then!
While we are on the topic of stolen items, natural disasters create a time when thieves may be more easily able to steal from homes or businesses. It happens all too often, especially to unsuspecting home and business owners. Always check for suspicious activity and report it to local authorities.
Review Your Insurance Policy
After a hurricane, it’s essential to make sure you have enough coverage for your home and belongings. For example, will your insurance company pay for the repairs if you’ve lost part of your roof?
You should contact your insurance company immediately after a hurricane hits. Review your policy closely to understand what it does and does not cover. Check what types of damages are covered by each item on their list: some policies may only cover certain types of damage while others will cover most everything (with some exceptions). You may also have “hidden coverage” within your policy.
Contact Insurers Promptly After a Disaster
Contact your insurance company immediately after a disaster. The duty to act promptly is one of the essential duties of insurers, and it is clear from the law that prompt settlement is necessary for an insurer to meet its obligations under a policy.
Insurers need to know about the damage to assess it, but more importantly for you, they need to know about any losses caused by hurricane damage for you to get compensation. Suppose you don’t contact your insurance company immediately after a hurricane or another weather event has damaged your home or business. In that case, this could cause delays in settling claims and mean you lose out on getting compensation from them.
Review Your Insurance Policy Again
Contact your insurance agent if you have questions about your insurance policy’s coverage. If you’ve recently taken out a new approach and want to be sure that it covers hurricane damage, ask if there are any exclusions or limitations in the fine print before you sign up for coverage.
If your business is located in an area that has been identified as high risk for hurricane damage, it’s possible that your current policy does not cover this type of loss.
You may need to purchase additional coverage from a specialty insurer specializing in commercial property insurance (i.e., flood insurance) or from an excess liability insurer (i.e., umbrella). This kind of protection can help protect against property damage caused by hurricanes and other types of losses covered under a general liability policy.
Identify Damage to Your Property
Check for mold. If your home has been flooded, there’s a chance that mold spores have been released into the air and will be settling in your furniture and walls. It’s essential to identify whether or not you have mold and remove it as soon as possible because it can cause serious health problems like asthma, allergies, and even lung cancer.
Check for structural damage. If there were any structural issues before the storm hit, it’s essential to check them now to know what repairs need to be made before winter comes around again! Make sure all doors are still level on their hinges; if they aren’t, this could lead to big problems later down the road.
Check for electrical damage. Is anything not working right now? Do appliances work properly anymore? These are all questions worth asking yourself after a storm strikes because these things can help determine whether or not something has gone wrong with your house while also making sure that everything is generally safe before using any of these items again!
Documenting the damage is one of the most important things you can do before, and after a hurricane.
- Take pictures of the damage
- Take photos from different angles
- Keep receipts for all repairs
- Keep a diary of what you did and when
Create an Inventory of Damaged Property and Belongings
You’ll want to take photographs of all your damaged possessions so that if something goes missing, you have proof. It also helps document how many items were lost so that insurance companies can reimburse you accordingly.
It’s also important to keep receipts for repairs or replacement items after a storm. Suppose high winds destroyed your roof. In that case, it might not seem like there’s much point in saving those receipts because they won’t be able to cover the entire cost of replacing everything up there—but if only part of your roof has been damaged and fixed by professionals, those receipts could help offset some of those costs when filing an insurance claim with FEMA or FEMA-approved contractors for assistance with mitigation efforts.
If specific items were damaged beyond repair during these storms but can no longer be found anywhere else (or may just need an upgrade), buying new ones could reduce some stress during this trying time! Keep track of all purchases made after these disasters strike so they can be subtracted from any future claims on behalf of homeowners’ insurance policies.
Make Temporary Repairs if Possible
If you’re lucky, and your home wasn’t damaged too severely by the storm, here are some things you can do to make it more comfortable again quickly:
- Patch holes in roofs and walls with tarps or plywood.
- Replace broken windows.
- Replace doors that were ripped off.
- Make temporary repairs to plumbing and electrical systems.
If you cannot make these minor fixes immediately after a hurricane, find a place to stay where the electricity is still on (perhaps at a friend or family’s house) until the power comes back to your home and allows for more thorough repairs.
Find New Living Space if Your Home is Unlivable
If your home is unlivable, then you have a few options. First off, you can stay with friends or family. Second, you can stay at a hotel for a short period (depending on how long it will take for your home to be repaired). Thirdly, if all else fails and money is not an issue, consider renting a home or apartment for a short period until your place is livable again.
Make Family, Friends, and Insurance Company Aware of Your New Location
Many people have trouble keeping their family, friends, and insurance companies aware of their whereabouts after a disaster. You may have to relocate temporarily to an evacuation center or hotel while your home is being repaired. If this is the case, let everyone know where you are staying, so they don’t worry about you.
In addition, make sure that all family members have each other’s contact information in case communication breaks down during a storm or after it passes through. Also, figure out how everyone plans on returning home once repairs are done there—the last thing anyone wants is for loved ones to be separated by large distances during recovery efforts!
Finally, always keep insurance companies updated on any changes in address or location so they can reach out if necessary (e.g., if something happens at your house).
Keep Receipts for Everything
When dealing with damages caused by a hurricane, it’s good to keep receipts for everything. You’ll need them when filing a claim with your insurance company, and they need to know that you did all that work yourself. If you hire contractors or other professionals to do the job, make sure they give you an itemized list with prices attached.
Another reason it’s essential to keep good records is that sometimes fraud happens after hurricanes. Unlicensed contractors constantly try to scam others by offering free repairs or cheap prices for services rendered during times of crisis. Having proper receipts can help guard against these kinds of scams, so be sure not just to keep everything but also to check over each receipt carefully before throwing away any papers!
Work with Your Insurance Company to Fix the Damages
Once you’ve assessed the damage to your home, it’s time to work with your insurance company. Your insurance company will help coordinate getting estimates from contractors and help you decide who to hire for repairs.
You should get several estimates from different contractors before choosing one. Make sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured professionals who have been in business for a few years and have a good reputation in the community.
Finally, ensure your contractor gives you written estimates, so there are no surprises when paying for repairs!
Never Do These 4 Things When Going Through an Insurance Claim
Do not sign anything without consulting a lawyer first. This is especially important if you’re dealing with an insurance company. You could be signing away your rights or accepting terms that are very unfavorable to you.
Do not accept an estimate without reviewing it carefully. In the aftermath of a hurricane, contractors typically rush in to take advantage of people’s uninformed state by offering lowball bids. Ensure the estimate is correct and complete before proceeding with any contractor agreement.
Do not make repairs unless they involve simple things like cleaning up debris or taping up windows after flying objects have broken them during storms (if this happens, use plastic sheeting and duct tape). Leave the more extensive damages to the professionals.
Never get rid of receipts for purchases made after the damage occurred. If something goes wrong later on down the road, such as a dispute over who paid for what when filing an insurance claim, having all those receipts will help ensure everything gets settled correctly and fairly.
If you have questions about anything related to this post or need help with insurance claims, contact a hurricane lawyer today!
Meet with the Insurance Adjuster
For many homeowners, meeting with the insurance adjuster is a nerve-wracking experience. To help you get the most out of your appointment, here are some tips to remember:
- Bring all your evidence: Take pictures of the damage before and after the storm. If trees or other objects fall on your home, take photographs of those as well. You should also bring estimates for repairs or replacement costs to provide these documents during the meeting.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Ask about what documentation will be needed to determine how much money they will pay for damages. You should also ask about any deadlines by which they need certain documents to process claims (for example, if there are limits on how long they can wait before paying out).
Review Every Line of Your Adjuster’s Estimate
You should review every line of your adjuster’s estimate. If you see any mistakes, call your insurance company and ask for a correction. You can also contact a lawyer for help if you have questions about what was included in the estimate or why something wasn’t listed.
If you are dissatisfied with how your insurance company handled the claim, talk to an attorney before signing anything that acknowledges receiving payment from them.
Don’t Sign Anything without Consulting a Lawyer First
Don’t sign without consulting an experienced hurricane lawyer when approaching a contractor or insurance adjuster. Ask them if they would represent your interests before agreeing to anything. Your home is likely one of your most valuable assets, and many people make stupid decisions when it comes to this kind of thing because they are in shock and looking for answers—fast!
Receive Estimates from Licensed and Reliable Contractors
You can get three or more estimates from contractors licensed in Florida, and they have to have a current liability insurance policy, too. After you’ve had the contractor’s estimate and checked their references, you should contact the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to ensure they’re licensed.
You should also get a second opinion about your estimate from an independent contractor if you think something is wrong or suspect fraud or misrepresentation by the contractor.
Get Repairs Started
Your first step is to get repairs started as soon as possible. There are two things you should do to get started on the right foot:
- Get a contractor to start repairs. To find a good contractor, make sure they are licensed and insured. You should also look for contractors with a good reputation who has experience in your area and track records with other clients.
- Make lists of what needs repair or replacement in your house (e.g., drywall, windows, etc.). This will help ensure that all necessary damage is documented so that any insurance claims can be filed appropriately later down the road if needed!
Once the storm is over, and you’ve had time to clean up, staying organized is essential. This will make it easier if another hurricane comes through and causes additional damage, and it also helps with any insurance claims you may want to file.
Keep an inventory of your belongings. Make sure you know what was damaged or destroyed in the storm so that when filing a claim, you can be as specific as possible about what was lost or damaged beyond repair and why it needs replacement or repair.
Keep receipts for repairs made after the storm has passed (including any items bought at discount stores like Home Depot). Keep track of all expenses incurred during this period. You may be able to keep some reimbursements by submitting these receipts along with your insurance claim forms later on down the road!
Don’t Let Another Hurricane Ruin Your Future
Hurricanes can cause severe damage to your home, family, and future. Here are some things to consider before and after such an event.
- Always be prepared for a storm by having an emergency kit ready with supplies for at least 72 hours (3 days). In addition to the basics like food, water, and first aid supplies, it should also contain important documents like copies of insurance policies and extra flashlights or batteries that don’t expire until 2025 or later.
- Have a family plan for disaster so everyone knows what they need to do in case of an evacuation order or other emergency during the hurricane season: where will you go? How will you get there safely? Who needs special assistance/care? Do this well before any storm threat becomes imminent, so everyone has plenty of time to prepare themselves emotionally and physically; this may mean spending money on extra gear if needed, but doing so now could save lives later!
- Take inventory of your home, belongings, and other personal items so there won’t be any surprises when relief workers arrive at your doorstep – especially if there was significant structural damage or loss due to flooding caused by high winds associated with hurricanes such as Hurricane Ian which hit Florida last month causing widespread destruction across the state.
We hope this article has helped prepare you for the next hurricane season. We understand these times can be difficult. If you need assistance filing an insurance claim or representation against your insurance company, contact our experienced hurricane lawyers today!
Also Read: Best Hurricane Lawyers