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10 Things You Need to Know About Hurricane Insurance Claims

By Kevin Godfrey

A residential street damaged by a hurricane | Long Island Public Adjusters, LLC

Hurricane season can be a daunting time for homeowners. With the potential for devastating damage, it’s crucial to be well-prepared and well-informed about hurricane insurance claims. Navigating the complexities of insurance coverage, filing claims, and rebuilding after a hurricane can be overwhelming, but with the right knowledge, you can weather the storm. This comprehensive guide will provide you with essential information, and tips to ensure you are ready to tackle hurricane insurance claims head-on and come out stronger on the other side.


Key Takeaways

  • Understand hurricane insurance coverage and the different types of policies available.

  • Take steps to prepare for a storm, including regularly reviewing your policy, documenting your property, and updating coverage.

  • When filing an insurance claim, consider hiring a public adjuster to maximize claim payouts.





Understanding Hurricane Insurance Coverage


A man discussing their hurricane insurance coverage with an insurance agent


Understanding the types of insurance coverage available is a key step in preparing for hurricane damage. Homeowners insurance, flood insurance, and windstorm insurance are all options for hurricane damage coverage. Each type of insurance serves a distinct purpose in protecting your home and property from various aspects of hurricane damage.

We shall now explore each type of coverage in detail.



Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance primarily covers wind and rain damage caused by hurricanes. It typically does not cover flooding, which requires a separate flood insurance policy. Many homeowners insurance policies include a wind deductible, a separate deductible for losses caused by wind and wind-driven rain. Should you have doubts about your policy’s wind deductible, guidance from an independent insurance professional can be beneficial.


Additionally, homeowners insurance may cover additional living expenses, such as rent, food, and other costs, for up to a year while you cannot inhabit your home due to hurricane damage. This coverage is essential in areas prone to hurricanes, like Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island. To receive reimbursement for living expenses covered by your insurance policy, retain receipts and submit them to your home insurance company as part of your homeowner's insurance claim.



Flood Insurance

Flood insurance is a separate policy designed to cover damage resulting from flooding, which is not typically covered by homeowners insurance. Having flood insurance in place is vital, particularly for residents of flood-prone areas.


For those residing in areas susceptible to hurricanes and flooding, comprehension of the coverage provided by flood insurance and the actions required post-flood damage is fundamental. Knowing your coverage and being prepared for the claims process can save you time and money in the aftermath of a hurricane.



Windstorm Insurance

Windstorm insurance provides financial protection against damage caused by windstorms, including:

  • Strong winds

  • Hurricanes

  • Tornadoes

  • Other severe weather events


It typically covers damage to property, such as homes and buildings. Windstorm insurance may be required in areas prone to hurricanes and other severe weather events, such as coastal regions.


Reviewing the policy’s terms and coverage limits when contemplating windstorm insurance to ensure adequate protection is fundamental. Understanding the coverage provided by windstorm insurance is an important step in ensuring your property is adequately protected from the destructive forces of hurricanes.




Preparing for a Hurricane: Insurance Tips



Being proactive in preparing for a hurricane is just as crucial as understanding the different types of insurance coverage. This involves reviewing your insurance policy, documenting your property, and updating your coverage as needed.

These steps will equip you better to manage the claims process and safeguard your property during a hurricane.



Review Your Policy

A thorough review of your policy is required to ensure you have adequate coverage in place. Here are some steps to follow.


  1. Understand what is covered and what is not.

  2. Take note of any deductibles and other special provisions.

  3. Familiarize yourself with the specifics of your policy. By following these steps, you can avoid surprises and complications when filing a claim.


If you need assistance or have any questions about your policy, contact your insurance agent or an independent insurance professional for guidance.



Document Your Property

When filing a hurricane insurance claim, appropriate documentation of your property is imperative. Here are some steps to follow.


  1. Take pictures or videos of your property before the storm to provide an accurate record of its condition.

  2. Document any pre-existing damage.

  3. Keep all receipts and invoices related to your property.


Creating a home inventory can help facilitate the claims process. Here are some details to include for each item:

  • Make

  • Model

  • Serial number

  • Purchase date

  • Estimated value


Update Your Coverage

Ensuring your coverage is current and meets your needs is vital. If you’ve made any changes to your home or possessions or require additional coverage, contact your homeowners insurance company to discuss your options.

Keeping your coverage current can provide peace of mind and help ensure a smoother claims process during a hurricane.







Filing a Hurricane Insurance Claim: Step-by-Step Guide


a woman documenting the damages caused by hurricane sandy, long island, ny

Filing a hurricane insurance claim can be a complex process, but with the right guidance and preparation, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. This step-by-step guide will take you through the process of filing a claim, including:


  1. Documenting damages

  2. Contacting your insurer

  3. Collaborating with an adjuster to evaluate damages

  4. Agreeing on a fair settlement


Documenting damages is the first step in filing a hurricane insurance claim. Take photos of the area.


Document Damages

Documenting any property damage with photos and detailed notes is a crucial step following a hurricane. This will provide required evidence for your insurance claim and help ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses.

Remember that it’s important to document damages before making any temporary repairs, as this will help establish the extent of the damage caused by the hurricane.



Contact Your Insurer

As soon as possible after the hurricane, contact your insurer to report the damage and start the claims process. Be prepared to provide your policy number, details regarding the damage, and any other pertinent information.


Your insurer will guide you through the next steps in the process, which may include sending an adjuster to assess the damage and providing instructions on how to submit your claim.



Work with an Adjuster

An insurance adjuster that works for you, also known as a public claims adjuster, will assess the damage to your property and determine the extent of the loss covered by your insurance policy. Working closely with an adjuster can help ensure a fair settlement for your claim and assist you in understanding your policy and how to document and present your claim accurately.


If you’re unsure about any aspect of the claims process, don’t hesitate to ask your adjuster for clarification or seek additional professional assistance.




Role of Public Adjusters in Hurricane Insurance Claims


a man and woman meet with a public insurance adjuster

In some cases, you may consider hiring a public insurance adjuster to assist with your hurricane insurance claim. Public adjusters are independent professionals who specialize in helping policyholders maximize their claim payouts and manage the claims process on their behalf.


This section will cover the role of public adjusters in hurricane insurance claims, the advantages of hiring one, and tips on locating a reputable professional.



Benefits of Hiring a Public Adjuster

Engaging a public adjuster can offer multiple benefits while handling hurricane insurance claims. They can help you:

  • Navigate the complex claims process

  • Maximize your claim amount

  • Advocate for your interests

  • Save you time and stress.

In fact, a report from the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters found that homeowners who employed a public adjuster received a higher settlement from their insurers, with an average settlement of $22,266 compared to $18,659 without a public adjuster.



Finding a Reputable Public Adjuster

Begin your search for a reputable public adjuster by asking for recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues who have had positive experiences with such professionals. You can also consult the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters or your state’s Department of Insurance for a list of licensed professionals.


When evaluating potential public adjusters, research their credentials, experience, and client reviews and request references from previous clients. Choosing a public adjuster who is knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated to helping you achieve the best possible outcome for your claim is important.




Dealing with Disputes and Denials

If you encounter disputes or denials during the claims process, it’s important to:


  • Understand your policy

  • Seek professional help if necessary

  • If you believe your claim was unfairly denied, file a complaint with your state’s insurance department.


This section will cover strategies for handling disputes and denials, and list resources to help you manage these challenges.



Understanding Your Policy

Thoroughly understanding your insurance policy and the reasons for the dispute or denial is the initial step in dealing with such issues. Familiarize yourself with the coverage provided by your policy and any deductibles, exclusions, or special provisions that may apply.


If you’re uncertain about any policy aspect, consult your insurance agent or an independent insurance professional for guidance.



Seeking Professional Help

If disputes or denials prove challenging, consider enlisting professional help from a public adjuster or an attorney specializing in insurance claims. These professionals can provide valuable expertise and guidance in handling disputes, negotiating with your insurer, and advocating for your interests throughout the claims process.



Filing a Complaint

If you believe your claim was unfairly denied or your insurer has not handled your claim appropriately, you can file a complaint with your state’s insurance department. You’ll need to provide detailed information about your claim, the reasons for the dispute or denial, and any supporting documentation.

Filing a complaint can help hold your insurer accountable and ensure that your claim is handled fairly and in accordance with the terms of your policy.






Rebuilding After a Hurricane: Tips and Resources

Rebuilding after a hurricane can be daunting, but with the right tips and resources, you can successfully restore your home and property.


This section will provide strategies on the judicious use of insurance money, the process of hiring licensed contractors, and tips for rebuilding stronger to withstand future storms better.



Using Insurance Money Wisely


A family understanding their insurance policy and seeking professional help to deal with disputes and denials

Using the money wisely for necessary repairs and rebuilding efforts is essential when you receive an insurance settlement for hurricane damage. Create a budget to help prioritize expenses, and consider paying off any outstanding debts before using the insurance money for other purposes.


Be sure to replace essential items, such as furniture, appliances, and clothing, that were damaged or destroyed in the hurricane.



Hiring Licensed Contractors


A licensed contractor inspecting hurricane damage for insurance claims" with the keyword hurricane insurance claims.

Hiring licensed contractors with experience repairing and rebuilding hurricane-damaged homes is fundamental as you begin rebuilding. Obtain itemized contracts for all work that outline the scope of work, payment terms, and any other important details.


Be sure to research the contractor’s background, check references, and verify that they have the necessary insurance and licenses to perform the work.



Rebuilding Stronger

To better protect your home from future hurricanes, consider rebuilding stronger by following these steps:


  1. Follow local building codes and regulations.

  2. Incorporate storm-resistant materials in your repairs and reconstruction.

  3. Reinforce your roof, walls, and foundation with hurricane straps, clips, and anchors.

  4. Consider elevating your home if you live in a flood-prone area.


By taking these measures, you can increase the resilience of your home and minimize damage during hurricanes.


Utilize materials designed to withstand strong winds and flooding, such as impact-resistant windows and doors, hurricane-rated shingles, and reinforced concrete.




Additional Assistance Programs for Hurricane Victims

In addition to insurance coverage, several additional assistance programs are available for hurricane victims. These programs can provide financial aid and support to help you recover and rebuild.


This section will highlight some of these programs, such as FEMA assistance, SBA disaster loans, and support from nonprofit organizations.



FEMA Assistance

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assists uninsured or underinsured individuals affected by hurricanes. Their Individual and Households Program offers grants for temporary housing, home repairs, and other disaster-related expenses. The National Flood Insurance Program is also available to help protect homeowners from flood-related damages.


To apply for FEMA assistance, you must first register with FEMA online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.



SBA Disaster Loans

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, and businesses affected by declared disasters like hurricanes. These loans can help cover costs not covered by insurance, such as repairing or replacing damaged property and other disaster-related expenses.


To apply for an SBA disaster loan, you must first register with FEMA and then submit your application for the loan either online or via mail.



Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations like the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and the Salvation Army may offer additional support and resources for hurricane victims. These organizations can provide grants, loans, and other assistance to help you recover and rebuild after a hurricane.


Contact local disaster relief organizations or government agencies for more information on the assistance programs available in your area.




Protecting Your Important Documents

In the aftermath of a hurricane, it’s crucial to have your important documents related to insurance claims and disaster relief readily available and well-protected.


This section will explore methods to safeguard your important documents using physical and digital storage.



Physical Storage

Protect physical copies of crucial documents like insurance policies, property deeds, and personal identification by storing them in a fire- and waterproof safe or a bank-safe deposit box. This will help protect your documents from potential loss or destruction due to natural disasters like hurricanes.


Having these documents readily available can significantly streamline the claims process and ensure that you have the necessary information to receive a fair settlement.



Digital Storage

Beyond physical storage, maintaining digital copies of important documents in a secure, password-protected format is also recommended. Electronic copies can be securely stored on a removable flash drive or a cloud-based service.


Digital storage provides an additional layer of protection and ensures easy access to your documents when needed.




Summary

Navigating the complexities of hurricane insurance claims can be overwhelming, but being well-informed and well-prepared can make all the difference. By understanding the types of coverage available, preparing your property, filing claims, and rebuilding stronger, you can weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side. With the tips and resources provided in this comprehensive guide, you’ll be equipped to tackle hurricane insurance claims head-on and protect your most valuable assets.








 

Frequently Asked Question


How do hurricane insurance claims work?

Hurricane insurance claims generally involve a deductible based on a percentage of your coverage, which you’ll need to cover before the insurer will reimburse any additional costs.


Your policy may also have a separate wind deductible for wind-related damage.



What does hurricane insurance not cover?

Hurricane insurance does not cover flooding, damage to your car, or liability coverage.


Flood insurance and car insurance might provide additional coverage in these cases.



How long does an insurance company have to respond to a hurricane claim?

Insurance companies are required to initiate the last adjustment of a hurricane damage claim 14 days after notification.



How is hurricane damage paid for?

Hurricane damage is typically paid for by homeowners insurance or flood insurance. Separate windstorm insurance may also be needed, depending on the policy.


Deductibles are often higher than standard rates, and insurers pay either the depreciated value of your property or the full remaining value of the repair or replacement with proof of receipts.




Is Long Island part of NYC in terms of NYS insurance policies?

Yes, Long Island is part of NYC as Brooklyn and Queens are geographically located on the island and the two counties, Kings and Queens, are boroughs of NYC and all policies are the same.




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