Property Damage Insurance Claims
We hope that you and your family are safe after Hurricane Ian. One of our legal firms sent the following information that we feel is important to share with you all.
"The law firm will be assisting clients with property damage insurance claims (homes, condominiums, commercial buildings, etc.), and share some helpful advice with you that could help when dealing with your insurance company after the storm. We also suggest that you share this post with your friends and family as they may find this information helpful.
Hopefully, you have the current insurance policy in a safe place, but if you do not, then contact your insurance agent as soon as possible to obtain a copy of the policy or its declaration pages. If your agent is unable to provide this then ask him to provide the name of your insurance company and the phone number needed to report the claim.
• Report the claim as soon as possible. This will do more than help you get paid quicker for your claim. Insurance companies will often allege that their customers have delayed in reporting their claim and use this as a basis to deny it. We have a case where the insurance company is claiming that a loss reported three (3) days after the loss occurred was late reporting. It is important that you report damage even if you, or your agent, do not feel that there is enough damage to meet your hurricane deductible. One of the biggest mistakes we saw after Hurricanes Wilma and Irma was that people did not report a claim for this reason and then had a difficult time with the insurance company because the hidden damages they reported later were worse than they originally saw or believed.
• If possible, you should also take steps to protect the property from further damage. Your policy will require that you do this to minimize the amount of repairs necessary for your home. This will include things like placing a tarp on the roof, covering any damaged windows and doors, drying any water within the home (including in the walls or ceiling), etc. We are familiar with many companies that provide these services and will happily provide you with their information if you need it.
• One of the biggest mistakes we see in these insurance claims is the failure to comply with the insurance policy’s post-loss obligations. Failure to comply with these obligations could result in the denial of an insurance claim. These obligations include, but are not limited to, reporting the loss as soon as possible, providing a recorded statement, protecting the property from further damage, providing documents requested by the insurance company, keeping all receipts for expenses associated with the damage or alternative living arrangements if all or part the home was unlivable, providing a sworn statement in proof of loss, and submitting to an Examination Under Oath.
There are many things you need to be aware of when reporting and handling insurance claims. Please note that the above information is general in nature and your individual circumstances may require more attention. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like assistance making sure that your claim is handled correctly and that the insurance company fully compensates you for all your damages and expenses.
Stephen N. McGuire II, Esq. For the Firm
Costello, McGuire & Wicker, P.A. Mailing Address: PO Box 60205, Fort Myers, FL 33906 Physical Address: 12670 New Brittany Blvd, Suite 101, Fort Myers, FL 33907 Phone: (239) 939-2222 • Fax: (239) 939-2280"