Hurricane Damage

The familiar perils of a hurricane can include windstorm, hail, and flooding. In some cases, the insured holds separate policies with the same insurer, including building property, personal property, and additional living expense coverages. 

Hurricane damage claims often arise from real or personal property damage after a hurricane occurs. Hurricane damage typically includes windstorm damage, flood damage, and water damage. The water damage often leads to mold or mildew damage. Many insurance companies will increase hurricane insurance premiums in bad faith in cities and states where hurricanes frequently take place.

If your insurance claim for hurricane damage has been denied for an illegal reason, or you have a genuine property damage claim from a hurricane, but your claim has been unfairly and unlawfully denied, it is important to hire an experienced property insurance lawyer in Tampa, FL.

Attorney for Hurricane Damage in Tampa, FL

Attorney Michael Germain represents clients in insurance claims incurred as a result of property damage from wind or water after a hurricane. Many of these claims involve business properties, office buildings, apartment buildings, condominiums, multi-family homes, single family homes, that become severely damaged or uninhabitable because of wind damage or flooding.

We can help you collect the proceeds from an insurance policy to compensate you for the building or dwelling, personal property, and loss of use, if covered under your policy.

Contact the Germain Law Group at (813) 835-8888 for a consultation about your hurricane damage claim in Tampa, Florida, or the areas surrounding Hillsborough County, FL. Attorney Michael B. Germain is knowledgeable in all areas of Florida’s insurance laws and is experienced in all aspects of hurricane damage including damages from wind or flood waters.

Many of these policies have no coverage or only limited coverage for damages caused by a hurricane. An attorney can help you negotiate a resolution with your insurance company or sue for breach of contract if they fail to deliver on their promises in the policy.

Call the Germain Law Group today about your property damage claim or claim denial throughout the areas in Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Polk County and Hernando County, Florida.

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How is the Term “Hurricane” Defined in an Insurance Policy?

The term “hurricane” is defined differently in many insurance policies. The coverage extended can also vary widely. Some insurance policies contain a Hurricane Coverage Endorsement that provides that there is no coverage for loss caused by a hurricane. The “no coverage” provision can apply to accidental direct physical loss to the property caused by a hurricane.

In many of these insurance policies, the term hurricane is defined to include a storm system that has been declared to be a hurricane by the National Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service.  The duration of the hurricane includes the time period, in Florida:

  • beginning at the time a hurricane watch or hurricane warning is issued for any part of Florida by the National Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service;
  • continuing for the time period during which the hurricane conditions exist anywhere in Florida; and
  • ending 72 hours following the termination of the last hurricane watch or hurricane warning for any part of Florida by the National Hurricane Center of the National Weather Service.

Under Florida Statute Section 627.4025, Florida law includes certain rules for residential coverage and hurricane coverage. Under Florida law, the term “residential coverage” includes both personal lines residential coverage, which consists of the type of coverage provided by policies for the:

  • homeowner;
  • mobile home owner;
  • dwelling;
  • tenant;
  • condominium unit owner; or
  • cooperative unit owner. 

The commercial lines residential coverage consists of the type of coverage provided in policies for the:

  • homeowners association;
  • condominium association;
  • cooperative association;
  • apartment building.

Residential coverage for personal lines and commercial lines as set forth in Florida Statute Section 627.4025 includes policies that provide coverage for particular perils such as windstorm and hurricane or coverage for insurer insolvency or deductibles.

The term “hurricane coverage” is coverage for loss or damage caused by the peril of windstorm during a hurricane. The term includes ensuing damage to the interior of a building, or to property inside a building, caused by rain, snow, sleet, hail, sand, or dust if the direct force of the windstorm first damages the building, causing an opening through which rain, snow, sleet, hail, sand, or dust enters and causes damage.

The term “windstorm” means wind, wind gusts, hail, rain, tornadoes, or cyclones caused by or resulting from a hurricane which results in direct physical loss or damage to property.

Hurricane Damage Insurance in Florida

Basic insurance policies in Florida usually do not cover all hurricane damage. Florida law requires insurance companies to provide windstorm coverage if they are issuing a residential property insurance policy, as stated in Fla. Stat. § 627.712. However, most policies probably do not cover water, flood or mold damage that can also result from hurricanes.

It is important to examine your insurance policy to see what is covered by the policy and if there are any coverage exclusions in your policy regarding hurricane damage or limitations on the extent of wind damage.

Hurricane policies can be very expensive, and many providers may require insured individuals to pay a deductible on the total damage from the hurricane before they will pay any benefits. This can result in the insured paying thousands of dollars before they will receive any financial relief. It is important to look at this amount and make sure your provider is not taking advantage of your vulnerability and setting this amount in bad faith.

Many insurance companies in Florida do provide deductions on insurance policy premiums for hurricane-mitigation improvements. These deductions can lower your insurance premium and make hurricane coverage more affordable. However, it is important to be wary of discounts offered by insurance companies. Insurers may put stringent requirements in fine print and refuse to pay for any damages because the insured did not meet the requirements.

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Filing a Hurricane Damage Claim in Florida

When filing a claim for hurricane insurance, it is important to immediately call your property damage claims attorney to ensure you provide the correct information to your insurance provider. After consulting your attorney, you should then contact your property damage insurance company.

You may have different insurance providers for different types of insurance, so make sure you contact the correct provider. Florida law provides for a statute of limitations when filing property damage claims arising from a hurricane, so it is important to contact the correct insurance provider to ensure your claim is timely filed.

It is also important to keep documentation of every conversation, purchase and receipt pertaining to the damage, and to take photographs and videos of all damage. Your insurance provider will require most of this information to pay for all the damages you are entitled to. If your insurance company disputes any of this information, it is also evidence that will help you recover your damages.

You also may be required to prevent any further damage from happening to your property. If further damage occurs to your property and you were able to stop it but didn’t, your insurance company may deny your claim.

The statute of limitations in Florida, or maximum time allowed, for filing windstorm and hurricane property damage claims against insurance companies was changed in a new law from five years to three years. The new law also permits insurance companies to hold back payments for any home damage until the repairs have been made. This means the insured is required to pay for the damage up front before their insurance company will pay them any benefits.

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Denial of Hurricane Damage Claims in Tampa

Insurance companies will often find many reasons to deny a claim for damage resulting from hurricanes. These reasons can usually include the premium was not paid on the insurance, the insured did not follow a condition as set forth in the insurance policy, the insured did not disclose relevant information to the insurance company, the claim was a result of some fraud, or the damage was excluded under a provision in the insurance policy.

Florida law requires insurance companies to follow standardized claim reporting requirements, permit grace periods for paying premiums, and provide temporary postponement of cancellations and nonrenewals following certain natural disasters, as stated in Fla. Stat. § 627.7019.

After your application for hurricane damage insurance or a claim for property damage from a hurricane has been denied, the insurance company must provide you with a notice of the denial explaining the specific coverage that is denied and the specific reasons for the denial of the coverage.

It is important to hire an experienced property damage attorney if your hurricane damage claim was wrongfully denied or your insurance provider is acting in bad faith. Upon a denial, your attorney will provide a demand letter on your behalf against the insurance company and proceed with any other necessary legal action.

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Germain Law Group, P.A. | Hurricane Damage Attorney in Tampa

Contact the Germain Law Group today for a consultation about your property damage claim from a hurricane in Hillsborough County. Michael B. Germain is an experienced Tampa property damage claims attorney who will listen to the facts of your situation and help you determine the best recourse in pursuing your hurricane damage claim.

Contact the Germain Law Group at (813) 835-8888 for a consultation about your property insurance issues throughout Hillsborough County, including Tampa, Plant City, Temple Terrace, Brandon, Lutz, Sun City Center and surrounding cities in Hillsborough County, FL.

This article was last updated on Friday, September 1, 2017.