When you’ve been through a hurricane like Michael, such as many Florida and Alabama residents had the misfortune of experiencing, the most important thing for you to do is to get back to your usual life. Being able to get your bearings back is a difficult task after a major weather event has quite literally blown your life to pieces.
The most destructive hurricanes making landfall in the United States have increased 3.3 times more than just 100 years ago with eight of the top 20 worst storms to make landfall, doing so in the last 16 years. That’s an unimaginable amount of devastation in a relatively short time span.
The shred of hope that you had after realizing how much damage you sustained from Hurricane Michael, was that the insurance companies would see what you see; ruined homes and businesses, flooded vehicles, dead appliances, mold infested clothing and furniture – almost everything you own is totaled.
Unsurprisingly, the insurance companies haven’t been too keen on making payouts very quickly or even providing payouts sufficient enough to allow homeowners to truly get back on their feet. To add insult to injury, unsatisfactory claims are inaccurately reported as being closed to the Office of Insurance Regulation, and the Office claims that it is hard pressed to find any violations of law when it comes to delayed payments being made by insurers.
The statistics reported on Hurricane Michael claims in Florida show that as of October 25, 2019, there have been 99,554 residential claims reported, of which 74,363 have been paid out and closed. There were 13,790 claims closed without payment and 11,401 claims remain open and uncertain. Almost 14% of policyholders received no payout while another 11% have no resolution over one year later. What about the policyholders whose claims have been reported as paid and closed, yet they’re still left in the lurch because it wasn’t enough?
At the same time, Florida residents are stating that insurers are still paying very slowly and not paying enough. One Florida resident has been paid a total of $120,000 between two separate insurers on a $400,000 claim to rebuild his home due to structural damage.
Get an attorney who gets the insurance companies
So what is a homeowner to do when the insurance companies have them over a barrel and the Insurance Commissioner can’t seem to find breaches of the law? That’s when it’s time to get an experienced insurance claims attorney involved to protect your rights.
A good insurance claims attorney who has worked in the industry will know the insurance company’s weak spots and how to navigate through them. You counted in your insurer to protect you if you ever needed to use your policy and your attorney can help you hold them to that promise by enforcing the terms of your policy.
Filing a lawsuit is never fun, but it can be effective. An insurance company makes money by assessing risk and betting on it. Paying out on a policy boils down to whether parties upheld a contract they both signed, and whether certain laws governing payouts are followed. Insurance companies know that the policyholders don’t typically understand those rules and may not have the knowledge or energy needed to fight to enforce them. That allows insurers to get away with making wholly insufficient payments, if any at all.
When an attorney becomes involved, it changes the game for the policyholder, turning him or her from a victim into someone who can finally get his or her life back in order. Insurance companies rarely like to gamble in court because they know if everything is in order, they’re not likely to win – especially in the case of a natural disaster where so many insureds are dealing with the same problem.
In Florida, your attorney will begin by filing a Civil Remedy Notice of Insurer Violation on your behalf to strengthen your complaint. The Notice is filed by parties who are beginning the process of filing suit against an insurer, in this case for claims issues. The Notice is “intended to meet a portion of legal requirements set forth in Section 624.155, Florida Statutes, which requires a party to file Notice with both the insurer and the Department at least 60 days prior to bringing legal action against the insurer.” This will put the insurance company on notice that you intend to drag them into court if they don’t start behaving reasonably.
Your attorney will attempt to negotiate a fair settlement that you are entitled to based on true repair estimate figures, rather than a watered down version of what the insurance company’s adjuster calculated. If your claim requires a payout at policy limits, then that’s what the insurance company should pay you.
The insurance dispute lawyers at Warhurst Law have been on the other side of the table working for the insurance companies. We know how they operate and how to combat their tactics, and we will put that knowledge to work fighting for every dime that you are entitled to under your policy. You shouldn’t have to spend your precious time being worn down and left feeling hopeless or homeless. We protect the citizens of the Panhandle, Alabama, and Louisiana. Schedule your free case evaluation today by reaching out to us through our contact page or by calling our Mobile office at 251-207-1296.