The strong, high-velocity winds we experience in Florida during the summer and early fall can damage both the exterior and interior of our homes. Strong tropical winds can blow off roofs, knock down trees and large branches, ruin cars and RVs and turn common items left outside into dangerous projectiles.
If your Florida property has been damaged by the wind, your homeowners insurance policy should cover repair or replacement costs. However, there could be loopholes or ambiguities in your policy that the insurance company can leverage to avoid paying you what you need to repair the damage satisfactorily. Too often, Florida property owners are frustrated and disheartened when their insurance company does not provide the payment they need to recover from the damage high winds caused to their property.
At Malik Law, our experienced insurance claim attorneys have witnessed many policyholders’ problems with their insurance providers and helped them with their wind damage claims. We know the loopholes and tactics insurance companies use to deny, delay, or underpay legitimate claims and understand your legal rights as a Florida homeowners insurance policyholder. If your property has been damaged by the wind, we can help you overcome problems and collect the payment that is rightfully yours.
What Kinds of Damaging Winds Occur in Florida?
When people hear about wind damage in Florida, they typically think of hurricane damage and other tropical storms. Significant wind damage does, of course, occur during these storms, but other types of wind can also cause significant property damage. The National Severe Storms Laboratory lists at least six types of damaging winds that can occur in Florida:
- Straight-line wind– thunderstorm wind that does not include rotation (tornado-like) winds.
- Downdraft– a small-scale column of air that rapidly sinks toward the ground.
- Macroburst – an outward burst of strong winds that occurs when a strong downdraft within a thunderstorm reaches the surface. These winds, which can hit a large area, causing damage similar to that of a tornado, usually occur in conjunction with thunderstorms but can also occur with weaker rain storms.
- Microburst – a small, short-lived strong wind event, usually associated with thunderstorms, that produces an outward burst of strong winds (up to 100 mph) at or near the surface.
- Gust front – the winds before a thunderstorm that typically occur with a wind shift and drop in temperature when the air cooled by rain hits the warmer flow of storm air.
- Derecho– a long-lasting wind storm that covers more than 240 miles and is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms
What Kind of Damage Does Wind Cause in Florida?
Although weather forecasting has improved with advances in technology, damaging winds (classified as those greater than 50 – 60 mph) are still difficult to predict because any type of rainstorm can produce them, and they come from a variety of different processes. Unfortunately, whether predicted or not, the National Severe Storms Laboratory reports that thunderstorm winds can be very severe, with speeds up to 100 mph and a path extending for hundreds of miles.
The Beaufort chart, originally developed by Britain’s Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort in 1805, is still used by the National Weather Service to estimate wind speeds and their corresponding effects. According to the Beaufort scale, damaging winds are number 9 through 12:
- Beaufort Number 9 – Strong Gale: With 47 to 54 mph winds, structural damage to property occurs, including chimney covers, roofing shingles or tiles and antennas. Tree branches break off and can also cause damage.
- Beaufort Number 10 – Whole Gale: With 55 to 63 mph winds, a lot of structural damage occurs, especially to roofs. In addition to branches breaking off trees, small tress can be blown over or uprooted.
- Beaufort Number 11 – Storm Force: With winds between 64 to 75 mph, widespread structural damage occurs, and larger trees can be blown over and uprooted.
- Beaufort Number 12 – Hurricane Force: With winds more than 75 mph, severe and extensive damage occurs to roofs, windows, automobiles, RVs, mobile homes and trees.
From June through October, Florida property is especially vulnerable to damage from these types of powerful winds. From a roof being blown off to cars being blown over, the damage to your property can be extensive and expensive to repair.
Advice on Filing a Florida Wind Damage Insurance Claim
If your Florida property has been damaged by wind, you need to contact your insurance company as soon as possible and file a wind damage insurance claim. We recommend that you take notes on and photograph all of the damage before moving or trying to salvage anything. It would also be helpful to have photos of your home and damaged items prior to the storm available for comparison, as well as any documentation you can find of costs and date of purchase of damaged items.
Your insurance company will send a representative to your property to assess the damage, so you shouldn’t try to fix anything beyond what is necessary to ensure your family’s safety. If you make temporary repairs with tarps, for example, be sure to take pictures of the damage first and save receipts for anything you purchase. You can use your own photos and documentation of the damage as a basis of comparison when you get the insurance company’s assessment and evaluation of the damage.
Getting Help with Florida Wind Damage Claim Disputes
After you notify them of the damage to your property, your Florida property insurance company will send a representative to assess the damage. We suggest you also get a second opinion from a licensed contractor or public adjuster you trust at the beginning of claim process. In this way, you’ll have an estimate of repair costs to compare with your insurance company’s evaluation.
If you are satisfied with your Florida property insurance company’s payment and comfortable negotiating with them, then you most likely do not need an insurance claim attorney’s help. However, if you disagree with or don’t understand your insurance company’s decision on your wind damage claim, an experienced Orlando wind damage insurance claim attorney can definitely help.
We have helped clients in Orlando and throughout Florida obtain fair payment for damages through negotiations or litigation in cases, including:
- Denied claims. Your insurance companymight deny your wind damage claim for a variety of reasons. Some could be legitimate reasons, but many are not. If your claim has been denied and you don’t understand why or don’t agree with the rationale for denial, an attorney can help you understand the denial and fight for the payment you deserve.
- Disagreements over what your policy covers.In many cases, Florida property insurance companies try to justify paying for only some of the damage. For example, if the wind rips off part of your roof, your insurance company might say they will pay for repairs, not replacement, even though the whole roof needs to be replaced. In other cases, they may offer a percentage of the replacement cost, given the age of the roof, and not the actual cost. In cases such as these, having an experienced wind damage claim attorney helping you can be very advantageous.
- Disagreements about the extent of damage.In other instances, insurance companies limit the amount of payment because they say the damage is less than you think it is. They may see only the surface damage, or they may claim some of the damage occurred earlier.
- You don’t agree about the damage.You believe your home was damaged by recent high winds, but your insurance company claims the damage occurred because of poor quality products or installation. You believe high winds caused deeper damage to your siding, but your insurance company’s inspection only took surface damage into account. There are a lot of viewpoints regarding damage during negotiations about a wind insurance claim, and even minor disagreements about the type or extent of damage can make a huge difference in the outcome.
- An insurance company acts in “bad faith” when handling your claim.An insurance company acts in “bad faith” when it unfairly denies, delays, or underpays a claim or otherwise does not “play by the rules.” In these cases, an attorney can help you understand your rights, build a case against the insurance company, and file a lawsuit, if necessary.
Ultimately, you should not accept a settlement you are unhappy with until you have discussed your rights with an experienced legal professional. If your property has severe damage, or if your insurance coverage is complex, this is especially important.
Get Help with Difficult Florida Wind Insurance Claims
Insurance company representatives sometimes tell policyholders that hiring an attorney will slow down their claims or eat up their settlements, but the truth is that an attorney can help you fight for the fair outcome you deserve. In many cases, attorneys offer a free case review to talk about the problems you’re having, even if you later decide that hiring an attorney is not the right solution.
If you think you might need help with a wind insurance claim, learn more about how to find the best attorney for your insurance claims case, or you can contact Malik Law today at 407-537-0228 for immediate answers to your questions.
Choose Malik Law for Help with Your Florida Insurance Claims
Malik Law, PA is one of Florida’s leading insurance litigation law firms. We provide personalized, high quality legal representation for homeowners and injury victims seeking justice. We have helped our clients recover millions of dollars from insurance companies and want to help you obtain the payment you deserve.
For expert advice and personalized service, call us, chat online with us, or submit the Free Case Evaluation form on our website.