Take Charge of Your Tropical Storm Eta Claim with Professional Advice from HL Law Group
One of the fastest-intensifying 2020 Atlantic storms, the total economic losses in the U.S. from Tropical Storm Eta are reported at more than $1 billion. The unpredictable path of the one-time hurricane and subsequent tropical storm poses unique challenges with homeowners claims. As the storm was classified as a hurricane for only a short time, insurance companies will probably not classify the damage as hurricane-related for claims purposes.
How the claim is classified is significant with regards to the type of deductible being applied−homeowners hurricane deductibles are typically higher than most non-hurricane insurance deductibles. If you have questions regarding your policy deductibles or believe your Tropical Storm Eta claim has not been settled fairly, HL Law Group will be happy to review your case.By focusing our practice solely on property damage claims, HL Law Group has a concentrated understanding of homeowners insurance policies and the complex nature of the claims process.
What do Homeowners Policies Typically Cover?
While homeowners policy coverage may vary between providers, The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) provides a general overview of homeowners insurance coverage.
Homeowners insurance typically covers the dwelling including attached structures, certain unattached structures and your personal property. Additional Living Expense (ALE) and coverage for Liability is also normally included. All coverage is subject to the limits specified in the policy.
ALE provides indemnity for “additional” expenses of an insured that must live elsewhere due to a covered loss to the insured residence. ALE pays only reasonable ”excess” expenses until the property is habitable.
There are special limits on certain items such as jewelry, guns, furs, money, cameras, art or antiques, etc. You should review this list found in your policy and speak to your agent about additional coverage if needed.
Flood damage is not covered by your homeowners insurance policy. If you need flood coverage you must purchase a flood insurance policy.
Replacement Cost vs Actual Cash Value
There is a very clear distinction between these terms. Actual cash value (ACV) refers to a policy that covers items for their value at the time they are lost or stolen. This means depreciation will be deducted from the current value. Replacement cost refers to the cost to replace the item, regardless of how old or outdated it may be.
Most replacement cost policies require you to carry limits to meet a certain percentage of the replacement value (normally 80%) at all times. If you fail to carry the correct amount of insurance coverage, you may be responsible for a percentage of a partial loss.
Both types of contracts are available in Florida. You should refer to your own contract to determine how your loss may be settled.
Many insurance companies include a provision known as inflation guard in homeowners insurance policies so values increase on a yearly basis. However, this does not guarantee the values increase sufficiently to keep up with the cost of construction. This provision helps prevent problems of homes being underinsured. It is still the responsibility of the insured to evaluate their coverage each year to determine if the amount on the policy is sufficient. If an insured has concerns about the amount of coverage, they should speak with their agent about completing a new replacement cost estimate for their home.
The Florida DFS also provides the following information on common claims concerns:
Notice of Windstorm or Hurricane Claim: The time period an initial, supplemental or reopened claim can be presented to an insurer under a property insurance policy providing coverage for windstorm or hurricane is limited. Under current Florida law, these claims are barred unless notice was given to the insurer in accordance with the terms of the policy within 3 years after the hurricane first made landfall or the windstorm caused the covered damage
Timeframe for Payment of Claim: Within 90 days after a company receives notice of a new, reopened or supplement property insurance claim, the company must pay or deny the claim. If the settlement amount is contested, the company should pay all uncontested amounts within the 90-day timeframe unless the failure to pay the claim or the uncontested amount is caused by factors beyond the control of the company. Any payment (portion or entire claim) paid more than 90 days after the company receives notice of the claim, or paid more than 15 days after there are no longer factors beyond the control of the company, whichever is later, will bear interest according to Section 55.03, Florida Statutes.
Please note: “Beyond the control” was meant to include physical incapability caused by natural disasters. This could be very broad though including delays due to lack of adjusters or engineering firms needed to analyze damages. Whether a factor was beyond the control of the insurer will have to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Let HL Law Group help you better understand your homeowners policy and its terms. Our skilled staff may be able to help you recover more of your losses.
HL Law Group is a boutique law firm that focuses its practice on property damage insurance claims. Call (855) 713-1212 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how we may be able to help you with your claim.