5 Things NOT To Do After A Tornado Or Hurricane In Florida
It is a fact of life in Florida that along with the sunshine comes the occasional storm. Some of these storms can be severe and even life-threatening. The Daytona Beach area experiences tornadoes more often than the national average, and these storms can be unexpected and severe. Hurricanes always remain a risk during the traditional hurricane season between June 1st and November 30th. While Southeast Florida is especially prone to hurricane damage, all areas of Florida’s coastline – including Volusia and Flagler Counties – are susceptible to hurricanes. Following a severe event such as a tornado or hurricane, residents are left scrambling and confused. Not only are they forced to put their lives back together, but they have to deal with additional problems like dealing with insurance companies. For the sake of property insurance claims, there are some important things to keep in mind immediately after a storm:
- Do not discard all damaged items right away. Damaged items, especially any valuables, furniture, or appliances, will be part of your claim that you submit to your insurer. You may be tempted to simply discard items that seem unsalvageable, or that you believe you won’t get fair value for. Do your best to itemize, photograph, and document any property damaged during a severe storm. Even if an item cannot be saved, at least it will be part of your record and available for an adjuster to review later.
- Do not return to your home until it is safe to do so, and do not stay in your home if any part of it is uninhabitable. If you and your family have been forced to evacuate your home during an emergency, it is only human nature to try and return to your property as soon as a storm passes. There are two main problems with this. First are the immediate dangers such as loose electrical wires, broken glass and wood, and other debris that can cause injury. Second is the need for first responders to get to the scene first and rescue anybody caught inside damaged property. Emergency crews also need to get there with first responders to remove safety hazards and clear paths for people to safely return.
If the “coast is clear” but your home is still uninhabitable due to roof damage, flooding, or other issues, don’t stick around unnecessarily. Your homeowner’s insurance policy likely has coverage for Additional Living Expenses (ALE) that will help cover costs of lodging and food if you can’t get back into your house for any period of time.
- Do not wait to call your insurance company. The sooner you reach out to your insurer, the sooner they can get the process started on your claim. If your community suffered serious damage due to a tornado or hurricane, you won’t be the only one calling – your insurance company will likely be flooded with many claims at the same time. The sooner you can get their attention, the better. Additionally, your policy may have requirements to give prompt notice of severe storm damage, so you don’t want to cause an issue later due to a delayed claim.
- Do not rely solely on your insurance company’s adjuster to evaluate your claim. An adjuster sent by your insurance company works for the insurer, not you. They may not fully investigate all aspects of your claim, or spend extra time to address issues behind the surface of the property damage. A public adjuster, or an independent adjuster you’ve hired, may do a more thorough job of investigating the full scope of your property damage claim.
- Do not accept the insurance company’s first offer to settle the claim. The insurance company’s job is to open, review, and “close out” claims as efficiently – and cheaply – as possible. Insurance companies are for-profit companies and must observe their bottom lines. Sometimes this means underpaying on claims, or paying the bare minimum. You should closely review any insurance settlement offer to make sure all damaged elements were covered. If there are discrepancies between the reported damage and what was covered, you will need to follow up and take further action. Frequently, the insurance company will underestimate labor costs involved with your repairs, offer cash value instead of full replacement costs, or omit certain damage under the excuse that it was not covered under your policy.
Our Daytona, Florida Property Damage Insurance Attorneys Know What to Do and What Not to Do When Reporting Damage after a Tornado or Hurricane
With the natural beauty and benefits that come with living in the Daytona area, comes the price of severe storms, tornados, and hurricanes on occasion. These can tear communities apart and cause severe destruction to your home. In the aftermath, you may not know what to do. When it comes to your property damage, the best you can do sometimes is follow the steps above, and don’t hesitate to contact a property damage attorney if and when the insurance company gives you problems. At Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A., we have experience in dealing with property damage issues caused by tornadoes and hurricanes. We have also gone toe-to-toe with insurance companies to make sure our clients get the best possible results. Call our Daytona law offices at 386-252-5170 or contact our Daytona Beach property damage attorneys online to request a consultation today.