How Much Time Do I Have to File or Reopen an Insurance Claim for Hurricane Damages?
How much time do you have to file or reopen a claim for hurricane damages? The answer depends on the state that you’re in. In hurricane-prone Florida, for example, property owners have three years to file or reopen a claim before they lose the ability to do so.
However, other states may have longer or shorter time requirements, depending on their insurance laws. So if you would like to know how much time you have to file or reopen an insurance claim for hurricane damages then you should first consult your state’s legislative website before you reach out to your insurance company.
Moreover, if you’re filing or reopening your claim months or even years after the disaster has happened then you may need to do additional work in order to claim all the damages that you’re entitled to receive. Here’s what you should know.
Why Do People Delay or Reopen their Claims for Hurricane Damage?
Imagine for a moment that your home was hit by a hurricane several months ago. To your surprise, it didn’t sustain any damage, and even the roof remained intact. Yesterday, however, you found out that the hurricane did damage your home. Maybe it cracked an obscure support beam or maybe it destabilized hidden areas of your property.
The damages are not the real problem however. What you’re really worried about is the fact that six months have already passed, and you’re concerned that your insurance company may not recognize your claim.
This situation is more common than you think. Hurricanes and other natural disasters can cause a lot of damage, but there are situations where such damages will only appear after a certain amount of time has passed.
If you find yourself in such a situation then you should hire a public adjuster to help you negotiate with your insurance provider. As long as there’s still time to file a claim, your public adjuster will help you secure the funds you need to repair and restore your home.
State Laws and Claim Processing
The best way to know how much time you have to process a claim for hurricane damages is to consult your state’s insurance laws. Let’s take a state that regularly gets hurricanes: Florida.
According to Florida Statute 627.70132, “a claim, supplemental claim, or reopened claim under an insurance policy that provides property insurance” may file a “notice of the claim, supplemental claim or reopened claim” provided it was done within “3 years after the hurricane first made landfall or the windstorm caused the covered damage.”
Other states have different time limits, but the idea remains more or less the same. Policyholders are given plenty of time to process their claims.
However, it’s always better to act sooner rather than later. People who file their claims years or even months after their homes were damaged by hurricanes are usually suspected of falsifying their documents by their insurance companies.
Furthermore, the longer you wait to file your claim, the more difficult it is to prove that the damages to your home were caused by the hurricane. For example, there are cases where water or wind damages have obfuscated the damages caused by a hurricane or a windstorm.
So even though you have a lot of time to file or reopen your claim it’s best that you get it processed as quickly as possible.
Tips on Filing or Reopening a Late Claim for Hurricane Damages
You can improve your chances of successfully filing your claim by researching certain facts about the hurricane that damaged your property. For example, you can look at the total number of claims in your town or community that has been filed, paid or dismissed since the hurricane’s landfall. If most of these claims were paid in full then there’s a good chance that you will get all the damages owed to you by your insurance company.
You should also consult certain government websites, particularly those that feature hurricane events and heavy rains. For example, you can visit fema.gov and use their Flood Map Service Center to gather verifiable documentation on the hurricane that damaged your property.
You can also consult the National Weather Service or even your local news outlets for information on the hurricane or rain storms that damaged your property a while ago.
The information that you gather from these sources will not only help you negotiate with your insurance carrier, they can also help you put your concerns in the right context.
Another way to improve your chances of getting your claim accepted is to work with other people whose properties were damaged or destroyed by the same hurricane that ruined your property.
Hurricanes usually affect hundreds of homeowners, and you can work with them to speed up your own claims process. Remember, insurance companies are more likely to respond quickly to their clients’ claims when they share a common goal.
How to Report Your Claim
When you’re ready to file or reopen your claim, you should present all the documents and information that you have to your public adjuster. You will also need to provide photos as well as detailed descriptions of all the damages that you’ve found.
Your public adjuster will then analyze your documents and they will conduct their own investigations into your property. They may also advise you on the best way to present your photos and documents to your insurance company.
Furthermore, you should also visit your insurance company’s site. They may have certain procedures when it comes to filing late claims and reopening old ones.
They may also have a special page dedicated to persons whose homes were damaged by hurricanes. You should pay close attention to these kinds of information, as they can help improve your chances of success.
Once you have filed your claim, you or your public adjuster can negotiate on the validity of your claim and the number of damages that you can expect to receive from your insurance company.