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Hurricane season is upon us, and every Floridian is obviously hoping to have another year free of major hurricane damage to our state. While we are all hoping for the best, it is only prudent to plan for the worst. If our state is affected by hurricanes this year, and homes or businesses are damaged, Floridians will work together to get our state “back to normal” as quickly as possible. It is a fine quality that we have seen emerge in the wake of disasters all over the country: people banding together to help out neighbors, friends, and strangers alike, to deal with the after-effects of catastrophic storms. Witnessing this spirit of co-operation has made us proud to be Americans time and time again, and has been very important to the rebuilding efforts of those areas affected by natural disaster in recent years. However, one of the first avenues to recovering from the damage a major storm can inflict is the homeowner’s insurance that we pay for year in and year out, to protect us in the event that such damage should occur.
Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter urge you to plan for the unpleasant, but very real, possibility of serious storms and the damage to your home that they can so easily cause. While many people plan for pre-hurricane preparation, by purchasing plastic sheeting and duct tape, and batteries for lights and radios, plans for post-hurricane are not nearly as common. After the 2004-2005 seasons, which did such serious damage to the state of Florida, the country’s major home insurers such as Allstate and State Farm simply fled the state. The homes and businesses of Floridians are now all insured by a patchwork of smaller insurers who may not, in the event of a major storm, even have sufficient funds to pay out on the claims they receive. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune won a 2010 Pulitzer Prize for their wonderful investigative reporting on the state of home insurance in Florida, which you can link to here.
When filing an insurance claim for hurricane damage in Florida, it is important that you remember that time is of the essence. A recent court case denied a homeowner financial compensation for hurricane damage because the claim was not filed in a timely manner. The homeowner has a “duty to cooperate” in most insurance contracts, and to delay making your claim could wind up denying you your benefits. If your home is damaged by a hurricane or other major storm this year, you should immediately schedule a home inspection to assess the damage. You should then immediately notify your home insurer, to satisfy your duty to cooperate in a timely fashion. At that point, contact Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter. Our experienced attorneys can help you deal with the insurance companies, to be sure that your interests are protected as you deal with insurers who may go to any lengths to protect their own bottom lines by denying your claims.