How Do I File a Hurricane Claim?

You may file a hurricane claim online, through a mobile application, or by phone. But the best way to file a hurricane claim is to hire a Florida hurricane damage attorney to do it for you.

If you suffered property damage during a hurricane, you must inform your insurance provider promptly. However, you must also exercise caution when interacting with your insurer—as soon as you inform them of your claim, your pursuit of a fair financial recovery begins. Their pursuit to minimize your claim also begins, and anything you say might jeopardize your insurance benefits.

Before speaking with your insurer, retain a lawyer who handles hurricane damage claims. The right attorney with experience in property insurance negotiations can inform your insurance company and handle all communications to minimize your risk.

They will ensure you receive maximum compensation for your hurricane-related losses. Never delay hiring a lawyer to start the claim process, as claims are time-sensitive obligations.

Steps to Take After a Hurricane (Including Filing an Insurance Claim)

Hurricane survivors can take several steps that may improve the strength of their insurance claim. In the wake of a hurricane, you may:

Hire an Attorney

Before you even contact the insurance company about your claim, you may hire a lawyer to:
How Do I File a Hurricane Claim

  • Protect your rights
  • Deal with the insurance company
  • Facilitate every other aspect of the claims process
  • Free you to focus on other obligations, including repairing your property

Even making a basic statement to an insurance company can threaten your rights, as the insurer may intend to pay you as little as possible. Your lawyer will advise you about what to do (and what not to do) regarding your hurricane insurance claim.

Document the Property Damage

You should photograph and video record property damage caused by the hurricane. Do not wait to complete this step, as the damage may be most apparent just after the storm.

If you wait to document hurricane-related damage, the insurance company may claim that some (or all) of the property damage is due to events other than the storm. You may also want to move forward with repairs as soon as possible, and you need to document the storm damage before cleanup and repairs.

Make a List of Damaged Property

To ensure you’re accounting for all hurricane-related property damage, make a detailed list of property damaged during and after the storm. Your attorney will use this list (along with their own findings) to value your claim.

Write Down How the Damage Occurred

While your memory of the storm is fresh, write down:

  • Specific events that led to property damage (such as a window breaking or flood waters entering the front door)
  • Approximately when the property damage took place
  • Any measures you took to mitigate the damage (such as placing a board over a broken window)

The more detail you can provide, the better. If you can explain exactly how and when the property damage happened, the insurance company cannot credibly claim that property damage is not storm-related.

Brush Off Your Policy (Paying Attention to the Deductible)

Revisit your policy once you decide to pursue an insurance claim. The details of the insurance policy will determine whether you can receive compensation through a homeowners insurance policy, flood insurance policy, or other means.

When reading your policy, pay specific attention to:

Your lawyer will become well-versed in the insurance policy, too. However, you may want to know the details of your policy, too.

Prepare to Interact with the Insurance Adjuster

Once you contact your insurance company about the hurricane claim, it will send an adjuster to document the damage.

You can prepare for the adjuster’s arrival by:

  • Making a list of all hurricane-related property damage (and using this list to direct the adjuster to the damage)
  • Assigning monetary values to damaged property (you may rely on receipts and bank statements during this process)
  • Not moving or cleaning any damaged property until the adjuster completes their visit

You may also explain to the adjuster any steps you took to try and avoid property damage. However, resist the urge to overshare information with the adjuster, as the insurance company may use statements made to an adjuster against you.

Seek Estimates for Waste Removal, Property Repairs, and Other Hurricane-Related Services

You must know the cost of all waste removal, property repairs, and other hurricane-related services to seek a fair settlement from the insurer. You can receive estimates for these services.

Estimates tend to help most when they come from a service provider you will ultimately use—otherwise, you risk receiving an inaccurate estimate.

An Attorney Can Handle the Remainder of the Claims Process for You

Once you hire a lawyer, you place your claim in their hands. Your attorney will perform all the services your claim requires and advise you on anything claim-related you must do. If an insurance representative contacts you, you may refer them to your lawyer.

Some of your lawyer’s primary responsibilities will include:

Documenting Your Hurricane-Related Losses

Your attorney and their team will document your hurricane-related losses, as this is an essential step in calculating a fair settlement amount. Your attorney will also verify any receipts and estimates you already received.

Law firms often work with experts in hurricane claim cases, as large sums of money are often at stake.

An expert may help your attorney:

  • Identify all of the services and items you’ll need to return your property to its pre-hurricane condition
  • Assign an accurate financial value to each item and service
  • Establish that your insurance policy entitles you to compensation for your losses

An expert’s services can be especially valuable if there are disagreements involving your claim. For instance, if an insurer claims that an estimate for roof repairs is too high, an expert may testify that the estimate reflects the market rate for roofing services.

Calculating Your Hurricane-Related Losses

As they document your losses, your lawyer will determine the financial cost of each. The average hurricane costs $20.5 billion in damage, and the cost at the personal level can devastate a family.

You should know the exact value of your damages. You risk paying out of your pocket for hurricane-related services and goods without a correct calculation. Many claimants hire a lawyer to ensure they seek fair financial recovery for their losses.

Filing Your Claim and Submitting Proof of Your Losses

If you have yet to file your claim when you hire a hurricane claim lawyer, your attorney will file it for you.

Your attorney will also oversee other administrative aspects of your claim, including:

  • Reviewing and responding to the insurance company’s letters, calls, and other correspondences
  • Advising you about when and how to give any necessary statements to the insurer
  • Submitting documentation of your losses
  • Reviewing decision letters and settlement offers from the insurance company

Lawyers focus on the smallest of details for their clients. When you have an attorney leading your claim, simply allow your attorney to lead the claims process. They will contact you if they require your action or have claim-related updates for you.

Negotiating a Settlement

Once they know how much your hurricane-related losses are worth, your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company. Your attorney will determine the losses your policy covers, the coverage limits on the policy, and the dollar value of your losses. This should help them to negotiate a fair financial recovery.

Pursuing a Lawsuit if Necessary

Insurance companies sometimes choose not to offer fair compensation to hurricane victims. In many cases, insurers have a financial motivation to limit the amount they pay to claimants.

If your attorney concludes negotiations with insurance companies without receiving a fair offer, they may file a lawsuit against the insurer. Your attorney will discuss this course of action if it becomes relevant to your case.

When Should I File an Insurance Claim After a Hurricane?

Do not wait to file an insurance claim after a hurricane damages your property. However, you may want to act just as urgently to hire an attorney.

You can file the claim to alert the insurance company to the property damage, but refrain from making any statements or accepting a settlement offer until you hire a lawyer.

If you proceed without hiring a lawyer, you may risk:

  • Saying something to an insurance representative that compromises your claim
  • Inaccurately calculating your hurricane-related losses (which may lead you to accept a settlement that doesn’t cover the losses)
  • Exposing yourself to excessive stress that jeopardizes your health

Hurricanes can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that makes victims struggle with the everyday demands of life. The stress of your circumstances require a lawyer to handle the rigors of the insurance claims process.

Your Lawyer May Have a Lengthy Road Ahead, So Let Them Start Building Your Claim Today

Do not wait to hire an attorney to lead your hurricane insurance claim because:

  • Your lawyer may face multiple deadlines related to your claim
  • Your lawyer needs to document your property damage as soon as possible
  • Waiting to start the claims process may reflect poorly on your claim
  • Insurance companies may ask you accept a settlement offer when circumstances leave you vulnerable to lowball offers

The sooner you retain a lawyer, the sooner you can stop worrying about the claims process and focus on restoring your life. Your lawyer will handle the responsibility of obtaining your financial recovery.

Types of Losses You May Receive Compensation for After a Hurricane

Hurricane victims generally rely on homeowners insurance or flood insurance to cover storm-related damage. Some of the most common types of hurricane-related expenses these policies cover are:

Water and Debris Removal

After you have documented your hurricane-related property damage, the cleanup process begins. You may need to hire one or more professional services to thoroughly remove storm-related debris from your property.

Sterilization of the Affected Property

Rain and flood waters can bring dangerous hazards into your home.

If you do not adequately clean and sterilize the property, you may risk:

  • Long-term damage to the structure due to persistent moisture
  • Developing mold and other toxic bacteria
  • Suffering health problems due to the presence of dangerous contaminants on your property

If you have yet to find someone to sterilize your property, your lawyer can arrange the services you need.

Repair of Damaged Parts of the Home

Insurance should cover the cost if you need to repair or replace your home’s foundational or built-in features.

Hurricane victims often need to replace:

  • Flooring
  • Subflooring
  • Drywall and other wall materials
  • Baseboards
  • Cabinets
  • Roof features
  • Insulation
  • Electrical components
  • Plumbing components
  • HVAC components

Repairing or replacing such critical property features is often costly and may compose a large segment of your insurance claim.

Replacement of Damaged Property

An insurance company may pay to replace any property damaged during the storm, including:

  • Refrigerators
  • Stoves
  • Televisions
  • Computers
  • Personal electronics
  • Furniture
  • Rugs

Your lawyer will speak with you about all property damaged by the hurricane. They may use different means, including reviewing receipts and conducting online research, to calculate the cost of replacing damaged items.

Repair for Damaged Landscaping

The lawn and outdoor features of the property may have coverage under your homeowners or flood insurance policy. Debris removal, re-sodding, and other services may be necessary to return the law to its pre-storm condition.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Hurricane Claim Lawyer?

Attorneys who handle hurricane insurance claims typically use contingency fees.

These fees benefit the client because:

  • You won’t pay the law firm any upfront fee
  • The law firm will only receive a fee if they secure compensation for you, so they will have great motivation to negotiate a fair settlement
  • The law firm will cover the cost of completing your claim

Those facing financial uncertainty due to a hurricane may appreciate this low-risk fee structure.

Do Not Wait to Hire an Attorney for Your Hurricane Claim

Tatiana Boohoff - hurricane damage lawyer in Florida
Tatiana Boohoff, Florida Hurricane Damage Attorney

Your lawyer needs to document your losses and file your claim as soon as possible. Do not wait to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to lead your claim.

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September 22, 2023
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