How to Maximize Your Insurance Recovery After Hurricane Florence - Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

If you have suffered any sort of loss as a result of hurricane Florence or another storm, the steps you take following this unfortunate event will dictate whether you are compensated.  You should document and report your hurricane loss to the insurance company as quickly as possible.  Here is exactly what you should do to maximize your insurance recovery.

Locate Your Insurance Policy

Once you are safe and sound, the first step following the hurricane, storm or other event is to locate your insurance policy.  Review the language of your specific insurance policy to determine exactly what is covered.  This document will also explain your obligations and rights.  As you review your insurance policy, jot down any deadlines of importance such as when the last possible date is to give notice, file the sworn proof of loss or even file a lawsuit if you are in disagreement with the insurer’s coverage determination.  You will likely find this matter complicated to the point that the assistance of an attorney is necessary to have any chance of emerging with ample compensation.

Be Proactive

The most important thing you can do is be proactive.  Gather as much information as possible, act quickly, provide your attorney with enough time to advocate on your behalf and you will likely emerge with the compensation you need.  So do not wait for the insurance company to ask for information about the loss.  Be proactive by providing the supporting documentation right away.  Just be sure to verify your loss amount prior to proceeding.  Don’t rush through the valuation process due to a fear of an approaching deadline.  If your claim value is off, it could come back to haunt you down the line.

Document Every Aspect of the Claim

Document your claim’s details from beginning to end.  This way, if the insurance company’s representative misplaces something or makes a mistake, you will have a written record of the discussion and facts to back up your statements.  You can facilitate the processing of your claim by giving the insurance company supporting documentation right away.  Of critical importance is the documentation of your losses.  The entire loss must be evaluated before any cleanup attempt is made.  Property damage along with property that is unusable in the days after the storm should be included in your insurance claim.  Write down every action you take, track your expenses for everything related to the claim and save all of the related receipts.

Mitigate Expenses

Some insurance companies mandate the policyholder protect the property against additional loss.  You should take every step possible to mitigate subsequent damage.  Most of these expenses will likely be covered by the policy as long as they are related to the storm and you keep the receipts.  Take a close look at your policy to determine if such mitigation expenses will be fully reimbursed.

Go the Extra Step by Documenting the Damage With Photos

Do not perform any repair work until you have fully documented the damage.  It is not enough to call the insurance company and describe the damage.  Nor will a written description suffice.  Take photographs of the damage from several different angles.  Keep the receipts from all related equipment, emergency repair bills and other subsequent costs.  The policy might cover more than you initially assume yet the burden of proof is on you to show the extent to which your property is damaged.

Lean on the Experts

The most important thing you can do to maximize your compensation following hurricane Florence or any other storm is to ask for help from those with experience in handling flood insurance claims.  Our legal team is here to expedite your claim, go head-to-head with the insurance company or opposing counsel and ultimately maximize your compensation following this unfortunate event.  Let us handle the legal challenges following the storm so you can do your best to return your life to normal.  Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

What's the Difference Between Flood Insurance and Hurricane Insurance_ - Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

Now that hurricane Florence has passed through the Carolinas, plenty of people are wondering about their insurance and how they will go about rebuilding.  Even if you have insurance, it might not cover the damage stemming from the most recent hurricane, flooding or another storm down the line.  There is a difference between flood insurance and hurricane insurance.  Plenty of homeowners in the Carolinas have both forms of insurance. Even those who do not live in flood-prone areas should have flood insurance.  The question most homeowners have is whether hurricane insurance is also necessary in addition to flood insurance.

Hurricane Insurance

Hurricane insurance is available for damage stemming from hurricanes as opposed to strictly flooding, fire or another specific form of damage.  If the damage to the property was caused by the hurricane, it will be covered.  The main difference between flood insurance and hurricane insurance is hurricane insurance extends beyond damage caused by water.  Hurricane insurance also includes wind damage.  Flood insurance typically covers water damage to the first floor yet hurricane insurance is applicable to the entirety of the home.

Flood Insurance

Flood insurance is comparably limited in scope.  This form of insurance covers losses caused by rising water as well as storm surge.  The federal government underwrites flood coverage with its National Flood Insurance Program.  However, private companies can also sell this important form of insurance.  In some cases, it is difficult to determine if a flood or hurricane caused the damage.  If it is challenging to determine the cause of the damage, it might be necessary for an engineer to perform an on-site analysis to gauge whether a hurricane’s winds or flooding are the true cause of the damage.

Two primary types of flood insurance exist: one for personal property and the other for buildings.  Policies applicable to buildings cover damaged caused to the structure, foundation, exterior and semi-permanent indoor items.  Examples include carpet, paneling, appliances and heating/cooling systems.  Personal property flood insurance is applicable to portable items.  Examples include furniture, electronics and clothing.  Even portable appliances and sundries such as pieces of art are covered. 

Flood Insurance and Hurricanes

It is important to note flood insurance is not applicable to all the losses that might have been caused by a hurricane.  Even if you lose a high-value item stemming from a hurricane in which flooding occurred at your property, there is no guarantee your flood insurance will cover the item in question.  Furthermore, insurance does not cover your yard or the structures in the yard such as swimming pools, fences and decks.  Nor do flood insurance policies provide compensation for living expenses.

It is also important to note flood insurance has nuanced requirements for eligibility.  Furthermore, many such policies have multiple exclusions.  As an example, furniture or other property within an area such as a crawl space, a basement or a walkout style basement will not be covered.  This includes sound systems, TVs, carpet, window treatments, bookcases, etc.  If you are considering flood insurance, you should know the federal version is capped at a quarter-million dollars per building and $100,000 for contents.  However, it is possible to purchase a policy with a lower limit.  Separate deductibles are issued for dwelling and contents. 

Don’t Learn the Hard Way

Too many homeowners learn the hard way that their flood insurance or hurricane insurance is not applicable following a devastating event.  Every property owner should be aware that flood and hurricane insurance are completely distinct from one another.  If you live in an area with even a remote chance of flooding or potential damage from a hurricane, you should explore all of your insurance options in-depth to make a truly informed decision.  Our legal team is here to help you with all the subtleties of hurricane and flood insurance including claims and settlement discussions.  Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

How to File a Hurricane Insurance Claim in North Carolina After Hurricane Florence - Robert armstrong personal injury attorney north carolina

If you have suffered any type of loss resulting from hurricane Florence, do not assume you are powerless.  Your best course of action is to meet with an attorney and file a hurricane insurance claim.  The manner in which you file your claim and the time at which it is submitted both matter a great deal.  Let’s take a look at a few tips that will ameliorate the claim process.

Get off to a Quick Start

Time is of the essence following a hurricane of this magnitude.  The insurance company will be inundated with phone calls from property owners looking to file claims.  Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the hurricane so you can get the ball rolling on your claim.  Insurance companies typically handle claim filers in a first come, first serve manner so don’t delay.

Document Every Aspect of the Claim

Take pictures of all the damage.  Write down all the information the insurance company representative provides during each conversation.  Be sure to record your claim number in a second space just in case you lose the first copy. Write down detailed notes during each interaction with the insurance company.  Be sure to ask for the customer service representative’s name each time you speak with the company about your claim.

If you have had any repairs performed following the storm, keep your receipts.  It also makes sense to keep receipts for living expenses accrued as a result of the storm, be it a stay in a hotel, meals, the costs of evacuation, etc. 

Be Careful When Interacting With Adjusters

The insurance company will likely send an adjuster to your property.  When this person arrives, ask him or her if they are employed by the insurance company or if they are an independent adjuster.  Independent adjusters must be authorized to make decisions and payments pertaining to claims on behalf of the insurance provider. 

Process Your Claim Through a Trusted Channel

There are plenty of opportunists going door-to-door following Hurricane Florence and other nasty storms.  These manipulators will knock on doors, claim to be an insurance adjuster or a contractor.  Do not trust these people.  True professionals are unlikely to go from one door to the next in the aftermath of a hurricane or other storm.

Detail all Damage In-depth

Though it is depressing to document all of the damage to your property following a massive hurricane, it must be done.  The more thoroughly you document the damage, the better your chances are of recovering ample compensation.  It is not enough to simply describe the damage to an insurance adjuster in a conversation conducted over the phone.  You should take pictures of the damage, send those pictures to the insurance company and do everything else in your power to prove the extent of the damage stemming from the hurricane.

Collecting detailed information about your property loss will also facilitate the completion of the proof of loss form.  This form allows you to describe the property or items damaged in the storm, the date of their purchase and the cost for repair or replacement. Our legal team is here to help you complete this form, comply with all legal requirements and obtain as much compensation as possible.

How to Proceed if You do not Have Insurance

If you have minimal or no insurance, do not assume you are out of luck following hurricane damage.  If you have home insurance but do not have flood insurance, call the insurance provider.  Certain homeowner policies that do not provide compensation for damage resulting from flooding might cover damage caused by water and/or wind.  Auto insurance will likely cover damage to your vehicle caused by downed trees.  Finally, those who have absolutely no insurance at all should contact local nonprofit groups or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) DisasterAssistance.gov website for more information about aid.

Contact Robert Armstrong Law to discuss your claim.