As a Florida property owner, you have undoubtedly been warned about the importance of properly preparing for the Atlantic hurricane season each year. The focus of these advisories, however, is likely on things such as stocking up on water and canned goods, purchasing a generator and doing what you can to protect your property when a storm is imminent. One thing that is often overlooked is the importance of reviewing your insurance policy.
At Malik Law, we understand the extent of the damage tropical storms and hurricanes cause each year in Florida. We also know how frequently Orlando property owners experience unreasonable delays, underpayments, or denials when they file a claim with their insurance company for hurricane damage. One way to minimize the likelihood of running into problems getting a hurricane damage insurance claim paid is to review your insurance policy before the damage occurs to make sure you are adequately covered. If you ultimately experience a delay, denial, or underpayment of a hurricane damage claim, the experienced Florida hurricane insurance claim lawyers at Malik Law are here to help you.
The 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season
As Floridians brace for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, experts are predicting another year with an above-average number of storms. Last year (2021) was the third most active year on record in terms of named storms and the sixth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. It also marked the first time on record that the list of 21 storm names was exhausted two years in a row, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The forecast for the 2022 hurricane season appears to be a continuation of the trend toward stronger and more frequent storms.
An average Atlantic hurricane season has 12 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), six hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater), and three major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season produced 21 named storms, including seven hurricanes, four of which were classified as major hurricanes. The Colorado State University Tropical Weather and Climate Research (CSU) team have predicted 19 named storms for the 2022 hurricane season. Of those storms, the CSU team predicts nine hurricanes, four of which will be major hurricanes.
What Should I Look for When Reviewing My Insurance Policy?
Knowing the kind of damage a tropical storm or hurricane can do to your home or business property, making sure your insurance policy provides adequate coverage is essential. Reviewing your insurance policy before hurricane season starts is the best way to ensure that your policy provides the necessary coverage. Things to pay particular attention to when reviewing your Orlando homeowners or business insurance policy include:
Policy limits. When you purchased the policy, you likely chose a policy limit that reflected the expected cost of rebuilding your home or business property at that time. Numerous factors, however, may now make the cost of rebuilding significantly higher. Moreover, keep in mind that the current market value of your home or property is not the same as the cost to rebuild should a hurricane destroy the property. If an increase to your policy limit is needed, now is the time to make that adjustment because it may require 30 days to take effect.
Deductibles. Your standard deductible is not the same as your deductible for hurricane and/or windstorm damage. Florida insurance policies routinely apply a separate deductible when damage was caused by a hurricane or windstorm. The deductible may be a dollar amount or a percentage of the estimated value of the property. Look for these deductibles on the “Declarations” page of your policy. Make sure you understand what your hurricane/windstorm deductible is and the conditions under which it will apply. If the deductible is more than you can comfortably absorb, contact your insurance company, and discuss the change in premium that would apply if you lowered the deductible.
Exclusions. Check for exclusions to ensure that you have a clear understanding of what your policy will not cover. Common exclusions in Florida homeowners/business insurance policies include damages caused by floodwaters and sewer backup.
Flood/sewer backup insurance. A tropical storm or hurricane typically unleashes a massive amount of rainfall within a short period of time, which can lead to flooding and sewers backing up. Your standard home/business insurance policy will probably exclude damage caused by floodwaters as well as by sewer backups. If you do not already have separate flood insurance, consider adding it to your existing policy or go through the National Flood Insurance Program. Talk to your insurance agent about adding insurance that covers sewer backups as well.
Repair vs. replacement. Most (but not all) insurance policies include both repair and replacement coverage; however, you should check your policy to ensure that it will cover the cost to replace both the structure and contents if the damage is too extensive to repair.
Condominium/co-op apartment coverage. If you own property in a condominium or co-op apartment building, review the bylaws to be clear about what coverage is your responsibility and what is covered under the building’s policy. For example, the master policy may cover damage to the structure; however, it is unlikely to cover personal possessions or living expenses.
Personal possessions. Review the amount of coverage you have for “contents” or personal possessions as this limit may also need to be increased. Just as the cost to rebuild your home or property has likely increased, so has the cost to replace everything inside the property. Make sure your coverage will pay to start over and replace everything inside the property tomorrow. One way to ascertain how much coverage you need is to complete a home inventory. This offers the added benefit of having a detailed inventory to help substantiate your claim if you need to make one because of storm or hurricane damage.
Additional living expenses. If your home is rendered uninhabitable because of storm or hurricane damage, you will have to live somewhere else until the damage is repaired, or the home is rebuilt. Additional living expenses (ADL) coverage pays for expenses above and beyond your ordinary expenses and typically includes things such as the cost of a hotel, meals, and other related expenses. A standard coverage amount is 20 percent of the structural coverage limit; however, you may have the option to purchase additional coverage. ADL coverage is also usually subject to a time limit that may be increased for an additional premium increase.
Business interruption. If you operate a business out of the property, review your policy for business interruption coverage. If storm or hurricane damage causes a mandatory shut-down of the business, you need to make sure your insurance policy covers the loss of income that will follow.
Get Help from Experienced Orlando, Florida Hurricane Insurance Claim Lawyers
By reviewing your insurance policy prior to the beginning of hurricane season you gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are properly covered if your home or property is damaged. Despite making sure you have adequate insurance, a claim can be unnecessarily delayed, underpaid, or denied. If that happens, the Florida hurricane insurance claim lawyers at Malik Law P.A. will aggressively advocate on your behalf to get your claim paid in full.
Call us at 407-500-1000 or submit our online form today. One of our experienced Florida hurricane insurance claim attorneys will explain your rights to you and discuss your legal options at no cost.
Imran Malik, rated AV® Preeminent, by Martindale-Hubbell, is the founding member of Malik Law P.A. An AV® Rating signifies that a lawyer has reached the heights of professional excellence. He has practiced law for a number of years, and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity by fellow attorneys in his area of practice. Martindale-Hubbell is the oldest and most trusted lawyer information service in America.