Six months have passed since Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle, causing 49 deaths and more than $5.5 billion in damage. During that time, the roads have been cleared, the power has been restored, and FEMA has paid out $1.1 billion for response and recovery efforts. However, the environment, homes and people who live there are still far from back to normal.
A recent Washington Post article reports that the “lingering destruction” from Hurricane Michael has, in fact, made the people living in the affected Panhandle area feel forsaken. The government has not passed a major disaster-relief supplemental-funding bill for long-term recovery, and insurance companies have been very “stingy.” As a result, debris and destruction still alter the landscape, while lack of permanent housing and loss of economic security leave thousands of residents in continuing crisis.
According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, of 144,667 Hurricane Michael-related claims filed, only 68% have been paid; 13% were not paid; and 19% are still open. Homeowners, mobile homeowners, and commercial property owners alike have been denied payment or are still waiting for payment from their insurance companies.
If your insurance claim has been denied, underpaid, or delayed, it’s time to call an experienced Florida hurricane damage attorney. At Malik Law, we’ve helped clients collect hundreds of thousands of dollars from insurance companies. We are available 24/7 to help you get paid what you deserve.
Takeaways for Florida Homeowners as Another Hurricane Season Approaches
Whether you live in the Florida Panhandle or not, the long-lasting effects of Hurricane Michael should give you pause. None of us can ever be completely prepared for the devastation and aftermath of a hurricane. However, we can keep a few things in mind to help us deal with insurance companies.
- Knowledge really is power. Understanding what your homeowners insurance policy covers and what it doesn’t cover before hurricane damage occurs is important. Having a clear understanding of your coverage will help you deal more effectively with your insurance company if a hurricane does damage your property.
- Be careful when talking with insurance company representatives. After a hurricane hits, most people are shocked and panic-stricken. Your family’s safety is your first concern, but after safety is assured, you need to deal with the damage, so you will probably call your insurance company and report it. When you do, state the facts clearly and do not use descriptive or technical terms. Specifically, do not use the word “flood” to describe water in your home, since homeowner policies do not cover damage from floods, and insurance companies can use your own terminology to not pay you for water damage.
- Rely on experienced Florida insurance claim attorneys. Insurance companies exist to make a profit, not to help individual policyholders. They will try to underpay you or deny your claim. Rather than waiting for one of these depressing outcomes, get help from an experienced Florida insurance claim attorney early to expedite the process and help you get a satisfactory settlement.
Fortunately, scientists are predicting the upcoming hurricane season will be relatively quiet, or at least, less destructive than 2018. However, the devastation of Michael still lingers, and the threat of hurricane damage, even during a quiet season, is always present.
Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. (29 March 2019). Hurricane Michael claims data. https://www.floir.com
Sullivan, P. & Achenback, J. (2019, April 6). Survivors of Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle fear they have been forgotten. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com