Before filing a wind damage insurance claim, first you must ask yourself if the claim is worth filing? Your wind damage policy is separate and completely different than your homeowners’ policy. Wind damage policies have set deductibles of either 2%, 3%,5% or 10%. Let’s do some quick math. If you are insured for $350,000 and you have a deductible of 5%, you will need to meet your deductible of $17,500 before recouping any money from your insurance provider. In this scenario, if Hurricane Irma grabbed a few shingles off your roof, you may want to repair your roof out of pocket and not file a claim. It’s all in the math. You pay premiums for years just in case a catastrophe hits home, and you deserve coverage, but if it does not make financial sense, it doesn’t.
Irma Claims Tips
Document all building/structural damage and personal losses. Take photos or shoot video footage before attempting any temporary repairs. When you file an insurance claim, you may be asked for visual documentation of damages. A photographic home inventory is a handy resource for this situation. Do not rely on your insurance company’s adjuster to provide you with pictures or videos of your content and or damages. Be proactive, use a camera or your smart phone to document structural damage and personal property.
Contact your insurance company or insurance agent as soon as possible to report damages. Your first contact with your insurance provider may be by phone, but make sure to follow up any communication in writing.
Make temporary repairs to cover damaged areas that may be exposed to the elements to prevent further damage. Your insurance company may reimburse the expense of these temporary repairs, so keep all receipts. Remove water-logged and otherwise damaged items from your house to prevent the spread of mold, but document them and do not dispose of any damaged property until your insurance company adjuster has had an opportunity to survey it. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to make temporary repairs to minimize the risk of additional damage.
Do not jump on your insurance provider’s first settlement offer. Patience will often lead to a bigger payout. Remember that unless your settlement check states “Full and Final Settlement” because they mean exactly that: Full and Final, your claim is not final just because you accepted a first payment. It can be difficult to negotiate a fair settlement with your insurance company. On the provider’s side, a team of legal experts are working against you. Unless you are familiar with the complex requirements of the insurance world, it may be in your best interest to hire your own advocate, a public adjuster working for you.
Three Types of Adjusters
- Team or Corporate Adjuster: Adjuster that works for your insurance provider.
- Independent Adjuster: Adjuster hired by your insurance provider, working for your insurance company.
- Public Adjuster: Adjuster hired by the policy holder, working solely for the homeowner.
Hire an Experienced Expert to Evaluate and Advocate
Remember the adjuster who reviews your loss is paid by your insurance company and your insurance company is in business to minimize loss. You may need to hire your own adjuster (Public Adjuster) if the damages are significant… to get a true, independent valuation. Public Adjusters are not miracle workers. They cannot get you more than what your insurance policy covers. But an experienced Public Adjuster can definitely help maximize your pay out. The Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA), the research arm of the Florida State Legislature, released a report demonstrating insurance claim settlements are substantially increased, on average between 574% – 747%, when the policyholder uses a public adjuster.
If your insurance company representative tells you that hiring a Public Adjuster will either stall, delay or get your claim denied, you are being bullied. She or he knows that once a policy holder hires his or her own insurance claim expert, the scale tips in the homeowner’s favor.
Advocate Claims Public Adjusters has been in business since 2002. Steve Venook, a Florida Certified Public Adjuster and Florida native, has processed thousands of claims. Get an insider’s knowledge and experience to work for you. When hiring your personal claim advocate make sure the public adjuster you are working with is certified, is in good standing with the BBB, and has stellar references and testimonials.