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Hurricane Insurance Dispute Attorneys in Florida

Fighting for the victims of Panhandle, Gulf Coast, and Florida Hurricanes for nearly 25 years

Michael. Irma. Wilma. Dennis. Andrew. These are the names of some of the most crushing hurricanes in Florida history. Florida is especially prone to hurricanes, cyclones, and tropical storms because of its location near the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea.

Sadly, when hurricanes strike, insurance companies are more interested in protecting themselves than in helping their policyholder. Relief through federal programs such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can take a long time and often offers very little. At Warhurst Law, we have the experience you want on your side when your insurer is playing fast and loose with your claim. Gene Warhurst has earned the respect of the insurance community due to his years of experience as an insurance adjustor and a seasoned hurricane insurance lawyer. When you need help, we are here.

Verdicts and settlements obtained by Warhurst Law for hurricane victims

Hurricanes do extensive damage, and insurance companies often try to deny claims. After Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ivan swept through the Gulf, individuals, business, and churches were often left with nothing. Warhurst Law worked with residential, commercial, and non-profit policyholders to get them the real help they needed.

Hurricane Katrina

  • $26 million settlement for an apartment complex previously offered $3 million
  • $11 million settlement for an apartment complex’s property damage, settled pre-suit
  • $2.2 million settlement for an A/C business which was originally offered $200,000
  • $1.3 million settlement for a radio station originally offered $19,000
  • $700,000 settlement for a high school that was originally offered nothing

Hurricane Ivan

  • $750,000 settlement for a property damage claim for an apartment complex

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

Why Florida hurricanes are so dangerous

According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the main dangers of hurricanes are:

  • Storm damage
  • Inland flooding
  • High winds
  • Tornados

Hurricanes are classified by their intensity, from Category 1 through Category 5. Cat 5 hurricanes, like Hurricane Michael in 2018, are the most frightening, and likely to do the most damage. According to Emergency Essentials, storms are categorized in the following ways:

  • Category One – wind speeds of 74-95 miles per hour, capable of producing dangerous winds causing damage to a building’s exterior, trees, and power lines.
  • Category Two – wind speeds of 96-110 miles per hour, capable of causing extensive damage to a building’s structure, uprooting trees, and damaging vehicles and other items exposed to the weather.
  • Category Three – wind speeds of 111-129 miles per hour capable of causing devastating damage to buildings, trees, roads, and power lines.
  • Category Four – wind speeds of 130-156 miles per hour, capable of causing catastrophic damage to buildings, bridges, roadways, trees, and power, with great potential for long-term power and utility loss in affected areas.
  • Category Five – wind speeds upwards of 157 miles per hour, capable of causing catastrophic damage to the affected area, with potential for total building collapse, severe damage to property, and devastation to entire communities, leaving them uninhabitable for months or years.

Hurricane Michael shows the extent of a Cat 5 loss

Hurricane Michael in 2018 was recategorized as a Category Five hurricane – the first to hit the Lower 48 since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It’s been almost a year, and the full extent of the damage is still being assessed. Though the winds were confined to a relatively small area, the damage spread out the way a tornado does, wiping out buildings, power grids, and trees all along the panhandle. The storm surge destroyed what the winds didn’t, and property owners are now facing the reality of trying to recoup their losses.

Claims are still being filed on behalf of Michael victims. Contact us today for help.

What kinds of damage do hurricanes cause?

Many people look at hurricane damage and only see the structural damage to homes and buildings, roadways and bridges, and vehicles. But hurricanes can lead to other insidious issues:

  • Contamination due to pollutants from sewage, oil, and gas
  • Loss of electric, telephone, gas, phone, and other essential utilities. Loss of utility service can cause disease, malnutrition, an inability to communicate, an inability to work, and other dangers
  • Loss of a place to live, food, and water
  • Mold, bacteria, and other health problems

Cleanup and repair from hurricanes affect homes, complexes, and entire communities. Repair can take months or years. Often homeowners’ insurance carriers will argue your water damage is due to flooding. The flood insurer will argue the reverse – that it’s due to wind and hard rains. Having Warhurst Law on your side sends a clear message to insurance companies that you will not be pushed around when it comes to getting compensation for your losses in a hurricane.

Essential insurance claim steps after a hurricane

After the hurricane is over, homeowners need to try to pick up the pieces. The best course of action is to arrange to speak with an experienced hurricane insurance lawyer who will guide you through the claims process. This includes filing claims with:

  • The homeowner’s or property owner’s insurance carrier. Normally water that enters a home through the doors, windows, and other entrance ways is covered through this policy because it comes into the home through wind or by rain that is driven by the wind.
  • The flood insurance carrier. Flood insurance should be written by a private flood insurer or through the National Insurance Program. Flood insurance covers water damage that comes into the home from the bottom up or from an overflow of a body of water.
  • Any other relevant insurance policies such as a wind and hail policy.
  • Comprehensive car insurance policies may cover flooding.
  • FEMA and with any Florida state emergency relief agencies.

Home, business, church, and any other property owners should consider the following steps in addition to filing their claim. Some of these steps, the insurance company may insist on. Others, your insurance lawyer will recommend:

  • Take steps to prevent further damage such as putting a tarp on your home.
  • Take pictures and/or videos of the visible damage. Your lawyer will work with building code and other inspectors to document the hidden damage which can affect the ability to repair or rebuild.
  • Document and keep receipts for all your expenses. This includes home salvage, home repair, and living expenses.
  • Generally, it’s a good idea to have a home inventory of your home’s contents (furniture, appliances, carpets, jewelry, clothing, and personal possessions such as computers) before the damage. Otherwise, you should prepare an inventory while your memory is still fresh.
  • Get estimates for the cost to make repairs and to rebuild.
  • Get appraisals for items, including the home, if you can’t repair the home and any contents. Appraisals should include the fair market value and the cost to replace/buy a similar home or similar content.

Key issues in hurricane insurance disputes

Some of the many issues an experienced hurricane lawyer anticipates are:

  • Replacement damages. A major issue in natural disaster claims such as hurricane claims is whether the policy covers replacement damage. There’s a big difference between paying damages for the value of an item and the cost to replace it. The value of an item is typically much less than the cost to replace it. For example, the insurance company may try to argue your roof can be repaired by replacing a few shingles. An experienced lawyer may show, with the help of a qualified roofer, that that whole roof should be replaced.
  • Living expenses. Most hurricanes, especially higher category cyclones, cause so much damage that the homeowner and his/her family need to live elsewhere until the repairs are done. A standard policy should pay for these living expenses up to the policy limits.
  • The amount of the deductible. Many homeowners’ policies have a higher deductible if the home and contents damage was due to a hurricane, rather than from other sources. Kiplinger states that while a $500 deductible may be common for accidental home damage, the deductible for hurricane damage can be two to five percent of the value of the claim.
  • Tree damage. If trees fall and cause damage to your home or the property of a neighbor, a skilled Florida hurricane lawyer can review the coverage issues.
  • Time to pay. Because homeowners need to make immediate repairs or need to move if the home is beyond repair, the homeowners’ policy should pay for hurricane damage quickly. Your hurricane lawyer can explain whether the policy itself or Florida law requires that insurance company make a good faith offer within a specific time period. Alternatively, your lawyer may seek an advance which doesn’t bind your right to pursue additional claims.

At Warhurst Law, we work with hurricane victims to obtain just settlements from insurance carriers. This includes fighting to get you the advance you need to start rebuilding from a hurricane’s crushing damage. We’ll help you take the right initial steps, thoroughly document your damages, work with emergency agencies, and get the funds you contracted for – to repair, rebuild, or move.

Speak with an aggressive insurance lawyer about Florida hurricane damages today

When you’ve lost it all, Warhurst Law is there to help you get your life back on track. To review your claim with an experienced insurance lawyer and former claims adjuster, call 251-694-1932 or complete our contact form to make an appointment. We represent Florida hurricane victims in Panama City, Apalachicola, Pensacola, Port St. Joe, and across the Florida Panhandle and Gulf Coast.

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

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