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Insurance Disputes in Alabama

Hurricane Michael Claims in Florida, Alabama and the Southeast

Aggressive help for policyholders who sustained losses in Michael

If you filed a claim after sustaining losses in Hurricane Michael, you may be entitled to additional compensation. Warhurst Law is representing homeowners, commercial property owners, non-profits, and churches who suffered serious losses from Hurricane Michael and the floods and tornadoes which followed it. We are also reopening claims for applicable parties whose policies entitle them to more compensation. Contact us in Mobile today if you took a hit in Hurricane Michael.

A quick look at Hurricane Michael’s damage

Hurricane Michael roared through the Southeast United Sates between October 10, 2018 and October 13, 2018. FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) declared a state of emergency for numerous locations. The Florida Panhandle took the brunt of the storm, but the hurricane caused destruction in Alabama, too, as winds reached 70mph in parts of that state. According to an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State, Hurricane Michael was “the strongest hurricane ever to come ashore along the Florida Panhandle in records dating back to 1851.”

In addition to the high winds, the cyclone caused flash flooding delivering four to eight inches of rain in a short span in many areas and up to a foot in some locations.

According to a Global Catastrophe Recap, Hurricane Michael caused:

  • 45 deaths
  • Extensive wind (up to 155 mph) and coastal damage
  • Storm surges of nine feet
  • Economic losses were estimated at $2.3 billion to timber industries and another $2 billion to the agricultural sector
  • Private and public insurance companies were expected to make $8 billion in payouts

Home and property damages included:

  • Damage to the foundation or structure which require repairs
  • Damage to the foundation or structure which were deemed total losses
  • Damage to windows, doors, interior and exterior walls
  • Tree damage to roofs and other parts of the home
  • Electricity, plumbing, and cable damage
  • Toxic exposure from chemicals, waste, and insect-borne illnesses

What made Hurricane Michael different from other storms

Hurricane Michael was recently categorized as a category 5 – an upgrade from the previous category 4 designation. That alone separates it from the pack, but Michael did a few things that were different.

The winds combined with how low the barometric pressure was led to a unique set of circumstances for this storm. The barometric pressure was important because unless your building was brand new, the wind was able to get into the building and basically implode, because of the way the unit was pressurized. The air expanded in and out, left and right, up and down, and while the actual structural components were not always as severely damaged, all the corners and doors and windows and weak spots (in and out) were cracked. This means things are going to leak.

And where there are cracks, there are leaks. And where there are leaks, over time there is water damage, swelling, and mold. And where there is water damage, swelling, and mold, there is an insurance company gleefully denying your claim for “pre-existing damage.”

But here is the thing: that damage was the result of the winds, the pressure, and the rain from Hurricane Michael. And that means that you may have been entitled to payouts for a total loss from the get-go.

Our Case Results

$11 Million Hurricane
Hurricane Katrina property damage of New Orleans apartment complex settled pre-suit.

Katrina Settlement

$2.4 Million Settlement in Commercial Tornado Claim
Warhurst Law secured $2.2 million in additional recovery for a lumber mill damaged in a tornado.

Tornado Claim

$2.226 Million Fire Loss Settlement
Warhurst Law secured more than $2.226 million in additional recovery for a Baptist Church

Fire Loss Settlement

$1.3 Million Car Crash Settlement
Client was in a car accident resulting in severe brain damage.

Car Crash Settlement

$26 Million Hurricane Katrina Settlement
Hurricane Katrina loss of New Orleans Apartment complex previously offered $3 million.

Katrina Settlement

You have time to file insurance claims for Hurricane Michael

Generally, home and property owners have just one year to file their insurance claim – but claims from Hurricane Michael are different, and the timelines that normally apply may not apply in your case. Our experienced insurance dispute lawyers understand when the claim period can be extended. Possible extensions include:

  • Five years to file a breach of contract lawsuit, but only if the owner filed an original claim within the first year from the date of Hurricane Michael. The insurance policy is the contract.
  • An additional three years for “supplemental loss” claims for hurricanes and windstorm damage. Florida also allow you to reopen claims if you have additional damage. This provision, 70132 Notice of windstorm or hurricane claim may apply if you filed your original claim within the first year and you later discover new damage. In many cases, structural defects to a home after hurricane or wind damage don’t become fully clear until you start repairs or until the condition of the home or building worsens.

How do I know if my losses are covered?

Generally speaking, your policy should cover wind losses, so that downed tree in the middle of your roof should be covered. However, if you live in Florida, your policy will have a special deductible for hurricane damage that must be paid first, before you can receive any compensation.

Your policy should also cover fire damage. If the downed tree fell on a power line and caused a spark, and that spark hit your church, setting it on fire, your policy should cover that, regardless of whether you’re in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, or any other place hurt by the storm.

The exceptions, of course, are the tornadoes. If your policy doesn’t cover tornadoes, your claim can be denied even though it was the hurricane that started the whole mess.

What kinds of damage am I looking for?

First, look for signs of distress around any glass in your home: windows, skylights, glass doors, etc. Water inside your house near the window is a pretty clear sign, but it’s not the only one. You can also look for:

  1. Bubbling or peeling paint near the window or door
  2. Mold or mildew near the edges
  3. Water stains
  4. Moving curtains when the A/C or heat isn’t on, and the windows or doors are closed
  5. Condensation within double-paned pieces of glass
  6. Windows that are harder to open (usually caused by swelling)
  7. Distortion in the panes
  8. Fogging or hazing within the pains (look for an iridescent “shimmer”)

Another clear sign? Things are louder than they used to be. If you can hear the cars more clearly, your window and door seals may be broken.

Second, look for spider cracking all over the exterior of your home. If the storm is enough to crack bricks, it definitely cracked the waterproofing tape.

Why wasn’t this covered the first time around?

Because insurance companies don’t tell owners about the cracks.

We do.

We use digital photographs to document the leaks which almost every home or building suffered during the unique power of Hurricane Michael. The digital photographs help persuade insurance companies to pay full damages – in many cases, this means damages for a “total loss.”

Remember, if one brick is cracked and you can prove it was caused by the storm, the insurance company must replace them all. The whole interior and exterior must be gutted and replaced.

Why choose Warhurst Law for your Hurricane Michael Claims?

Attorney Gene Warhurst is one of the premier Hurricane Michael insurance lawyers in Florida and Alabama. A few of the key reasons why home and property owners are hiring Warhurst Law, and why other law firms refer cases to Warhurst Law, are:

  • Gene Warhurst has been an aggressive advocate for policyholders since 1995.
  • He formerly worked as a claims adjuster for The Hartford, so he knows how insurance adjusters think.
  • He has numerous accolades and certifications including the prestigious CPCU - Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter certification which, often, only the presidents of insurance companies obtain.
  • The firm has successfully represented victims of Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Katrina in claims like these before.
  • The firm maintains a database of photos of the different kinds of structural damage for comparison purposes.

Because Alabama doesn’t allow public adjusters, policyholders must fight on their own or hire an attorney. At Warhurst Law, we bring the experience of both roles to the table. In fact, if you ask some of the leading law firms in the country who taught them how to do hurricane claims, you’re going to hear the name “Gene Warhurst” more than once.

So why not turn to the lawyer other lawyers learned from? We’re ready to help when you’re ready to call.

Call Warhurst Law if you have an original or supplemental insurance claim for Hurricane Michael

Don’t delay. Delay not only hurts your legal claim, it can mean damage to your home when the next rainfall occurs. It’s better to have a thorough, even a second, review of your home or property if it was in the path of Hurricane Michael. You may have the right to force your insurance company to pay for these hidden damages. To review your home and your insurance rights, call Warhurst Law at 251-694-1932 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment at our office in Mobile. We represent Hurricane Michael victims across the Southeast including the Florida Panhandle, the Gulf Coast, and Alabama.

* Warhurst Law cannot and does not guarantee an outcome to any case.

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