How Long Do You Have to File an Insurance Claim After a Hurricane In Florida?

Florida Statutes § 627.70132 (2) generally require that you file an insurance claim within one year after a hurricane makes landfall in Florida. You then have five years under Florida Statutes § 713.23(1)(e) to file a lawsuit if you cannot settle the claim through negotiations.

Get a property damage lawyer to evaluate your situation and determine which statutes of limitations apply to you.

A hurricane property damage lawyer in Florida will know the fine details regarding such deadlines, though. Never assume that you cannot file a hurricane claim—instead, speak with a lawyer about your claim.

File your claim as soon as possible, but get protection from bad-faith insurance tactics. An attorney will proceed with the claim and protect your rights.

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Reasons to Hire a Hurricane Claim Lawyer as Soon as Possible

Hiring a lawyer to handle a hurricane claim is a time-sensitive matter. You may not want to even begin the claims process before hiring an attorney.

Hire your hurricane claim attorney as soon as possible because of:

Florida’s Legal Deadline for Filing a Claim

Florida’s legal deadline for filing a hurricane-related insurance claim is a compelling reason to hire your lawyer soon.

Statute of limitation for filling an Insurance Claim After a Hurricane In Florida

While five years may seem like a substantial window for filing your claim, countless hurricane victims have missed this deadline because:

  • They did not know the one-year reporting or four-five filing deadline (or recent changes to the filing deadline by lawmakers)
  • They misunderstood the starting date for the filing deadline
  • They lost track of time amidst home repairs and other obligations
  • They simply forgot to file the claim or believed they had filed the claim when, in fact, they had not

When you hire an attorney, you can be certain they will file your claim before deadlines expire. You can also be sure that your lawyer will resolve the claim so you can focus on other post-hurricane responsibilities.

Deadlines Included in Your Insurance Policy

Your insurance policy may include one or more deadlines specific to your claim. Your lawyer will quickly become familiar with your policy (or policies) and take action before any deadlines expire.

The Need to Document Your Losses

Your lawyer will need to document your hurricane-related losses as soon as possible. You need to capture the entire scope of hurricane damage, but you also need to begin cleanup and restoration to move your life back toward normalcy.

By hiring an attorney and allowing them to document hurricane-related damage as soon as possible, you move your claim and recovery process forward.

The Possibility That Insurers Will Use Bad-Faith Tactics

Insurance companies do not always handle insurance claims in good faith. If an insurer presses you to give a statement or accept a settlement offer (perhaps a lowball offer), you can greatly benefit from a lawyer’s defense of your rights.

Once you retain an attorney, they will negotiate with insurers and inform you of any steps you need to take. Because insurers will not deal directly with you, your lawyer will minimize your vulnerability to bad-faith tactics.

What Happens If I Don’t File My Hurricane Claim by the Legal Deadline?

If you do not file your hurricane claim by Florida’s legal deadline or an insurer’s deadlines, you may lose your right to pursue compensation through insurance.

This can require you to pay personally for:

  • Cleanup
  • Cleansing and sterilization of your home
  • Property expenses
  • Living expenses
  • Any other losses resulting from the hurricane

Even if more than five years pass since your property suffered damage during a hurricane, speak with an attorney. The financial stakes of a hurricane-related insurance claim are too great otherwise. An attorney may inform you of filing exceptions or alternate ways of seeking compensation for your property losses.

Your lawyer may find that you have an extended time to file your hurricane claim because:

You Suffered an Ailment That Prevented You from Filing a Claim

Though courts and insurers address each case individually, a serious injury or illness may be a reason to extend your filing deadline. For example, if you had a tree branch fall on you and suffered a serious head injury, you won’t file an insurance claim during the extended period you were in the hospital.

You may have additional time to file a claim for many reasons. An attorney will review your circumstances and file a claim if possible. Don’t wait, as even those with an extended deadline still face a deadline, and missing that deadline can have serious financial consequences.

You Filed a Claim, But the Insurer Did Not Acknowledge It

If you attempted to file a claim, but the insurer did not acknowledge the claim (or is now claiming not to have received notice of your claim), your records may prove that you notified the insurer.

If these or any other circumstances extend the deadline to file a hurricane claim, your lawyer will submit your claim as soon as possible. Speaking with a law firm about a claim, even if you have reason to believe the filing deadline has expired.

Bad-Faith Tactics by Insurers May Warrant a Formal Complaint

One benefit of hiring a lawyer for your property claim is that they will shield you from any bad-faith tactics insurance companies use, which may include:

  • Denying your claim: An insurance company may deny your hurricane claim. You are not the first claimant to receive an unjust, unexplained, or poorly explained denial of a claim. Your lawyer will challenge such a denial and may present various documentation proving you deserve compensation.
  • Delaying the processing of your claim: Insurers must promptly process hurricane claims. When an insurer delays, they may increase the pressure on a claimant to accept a lowball settlement offer. Your attorney may take legal action if an insurer is slow-rolling your claim.
  • Alleging that a hurricane did not cause certain losses: Liable insurance companies may only be responsible for hurricane-related losses. Therefore, an insurer may claim that certain losses (like water damage in your subfloor, for example) existed before the hurricane. Your lawyer can prove which losses the hurricane caused.
  • Categorizing rain damage as flood damage (or vice versa): You may have separate insurance policies for flood damage and rain (or wind) damage. An insurance company may try to avoid financial responsibility by claiming certain losses are another insurer’s responsibility. Your lawyer will work to hold each insurer responsible for each of your covered losses.
  • Offering a low settlement: An insurance company may offer a low settlement, hoping the claimant is desperate or uninformed enough to accept. A lawyer will inform you how much compensation you deserve, and you can refuse a lowball settlement.
  • Negotiating in bad faith: If an insurance company refuses to recognize your covered losses or negotiate a fair financial recovery, your lawyer may file a lawsuit.

Your lawyer can negotiate for a settlement unless an insurer will not offer a fair compensation package. At that point, your lawyer will discuss filing a lawsuit for you.

A Lawyer Will Fight for Your Hurricane Insurance Settlement

Attorneys provide comprehensive services for hurricane victims. Because a lawyer will tend to every detail of your claim, you can clean up your property and focus on personal responsibilities.

Expect your hurricane claim attorney to:

Determine Which Insurance Policy Covers Your Hurricane-Related Losses

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) covers residents in more than 23,000 American communities, including many in Florida. Additionally, homeowners insurance policies generally cover wind and rain damage from hurricanes.

Hopefully, you have comprehensive insurance coverage through one or more policies. Your attorney will determine which storm-related insurance policies cover which of your hurricane-related losses.

Study the Unique Details of Your Insurance Policies

The details of homeowners insurance policies and flood insurance policies dictate the amount of compensation you deserve.

Your attorney will need to identify:

  • Whether a policy covers the replacement cost or actual cash value of damaged property
  • What specific losses your policies cover
  • The coverage limits on each policy covering hurricane-related losses
  • Any conditions that void coverage of certain losses

Understanding the important policy details lets your attorney negotiate confidently with liable insurance companies.

Document Your Damages (and Calculate Their Value)

Your hurricane-related losses will be the key focus of your case, so your lawyer will document them in the greatest possible detail.

Useful forms of documentation may include:

  • Receipts and estimates for debris cleanup services
  • Invoices for home repairs
  • Invoices for the purchase of appliances, furniture, and other property damaged during the hurricane
  • Expert testimony about the nature and cost of your losses

Your attorney will determine the financial cost of all hurricane-related losses. Once your lawyer has calculated the losses and checked the figures with financial experts, they can negotiate your financial recovery with insurers.

Negotiate a Settlement With Liable Insurers

Your lawyer will handle negotiations with insurers. Negotiations take time to resolve, and your lawyer will present evidence of losses, expert testimony, and other resources supporting your claim.

File a Lawsuit if Necessary

Lawyers who lead insurance claims have a powerful negotiating tactic at their disposal. If proof of your losses and your lawyer’s general argument for compensation do not convince the insurance company to pay what you deserve, a lawsuit may become necessary.

Most attorneys and claimants prefer to settle. A settlement is the most efficient, cost-effective way to obtain money for hurricane victims. However, your attorney should not hesitate to sue an insurance company when the insurer negotiates in bad faith.

Recoverable Losses from Hurricanes in Florida

The details of your insurance coverages will determine your covered losses. Most hurricane survivors who suffer property damage may reasonably expect compensation for:

Temporary Housing

If you must relocate from a dwelling damaged by a hurricane, insurance may help cover the cost of lodging, meals, and certain other living expenses.

Cleanup

You may need several cleanup services after a hurricane, including:

  • Removal of water
  • Removal of silt and other debris brought into your dwelling by storm waters
  • Removal of large debris on your property, such as tree branches

These urgent services may entitle you to compensation from your insurers. Your attorney will seek to obtain that compensation as soon as possible.

Sterilization

Storm waters present the risk of waterborne bacteria and other hazards. If professionals do not adequately sterilize your property, you may develop mold, structural deterioration, and other hazards to your health and property.

Property Repairs

Your insurer will likely be responsible for repairs to your structure, including repairing or replacing floors, walls, windows, ceilings, roof, and any other features damaged during the hurricane. These may cost more than all your other hurricane-related losses, so your lawyer will keenly focus on them.

Replacement of Damaged Property

Your lawyer will seek compensation for appliances, electrical components, furniture, electronics, air conditioning components, plumbing, and any other property damaged during the hurricane.

Criteria to Seek in Your Hurricane Claim Lawyer

Once you decide to hire a lawyer, research hurricane claim lawyers in your area.

As you research, consider:

  • Whether the law firm lists property claims (and hurricane claims specifically) as a primary practice area
  • What former clients say about the law firm
  • What case results the law firm secured for clients, including in hurricane claim cases
  • The experience you have during a free consultation

Hiring the right law firm will likely affect the outcome of your claim. Conduct your research urgently, but make the decision carefully.

Hire a Lawyer Today to Lead Your Hurricane Claim in Florida

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

Remember the statute of limitations for filing hurricane accident claims, and don’t wait to find the right property damage claims attorney for your claim.

Once you hire your a personal injury lawyer, they will work to secure your financial recovery as soon as possible. The right legal representation relieves stress from you and improves your financial future.

September 25, 2023
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