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Tornado Insurance Dispute Lawyers in Florida

Helping homeowners, businesses, and churches repair and rebuild in the Gulf Coast, the Panhandle, and across the state

According to the Florida Climate Center, “Florida has the dubious distinction of having a higher frequency of tornadoes per 10,000 square miles than any other state, including Oklahoma.” It’s hard to predict when and where a tornado will strike a town or community, even though technology and radar are improving. A tornado can form, strike, and then leave within minutes. Intense tornadoes can leave a wake of destruction in their path, mainly due to their high winds. Fortunately, tornado losses are compensable in most homeowner and property insurance policies.

At Warhurst Law, we work aggressively to investigate the full extent of the damage. We then negotiate strong settlements to pay for the costs to repair your home and the value of any damaged contents. We also fight to have the insurance company pay for the full value of your home or building if the damage can’t be repaired. We have secured millions of dollars for our clients, including an additional $2.37 million for a commercial policyholder who was originally offered $50,000. Let us help you, too.

Types of tornadoes

A tornado is normally generated by a severe thunderstorm. It’s shaped like a funnel. The intensity of a tornado is rated by using the “Enhanced F Scale,” which puts tornadoes into one of six different categories. The scale rating is often used by the insurance adjusters, public adjusters, and defense lawyers to validate the extent of the damage to your home.

The analysis, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) runs as follows:

  • F0: winds from 40-72 mph; 3-second gusts from 45-78 mph
  • F1: winds from 73-112 mph; 3-second gusts from 79-117 mph
  • F2: winds from 113-157 mph; 3 second gusts from 118-161 mph
  • F3: winds from 158-207 mph; 3-second gusts from 162-209 mph
  • F4: winds from 208-260 mph; 3-second gusts from 210-261 mph
  • F5: winds from 261-318 mph; 3-second gust from 262-317 mph

The scale is not conclusive but it is robust, using 28 different indicators to establish damage. Each home and building should be evaluated by professionals, building inspectors, and contractors to determine and validate the full extent of the structural damage. Appraisers are qualified to generally place a value on any damage to the contents of the home.

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

Common damages due to tornadoes

When tornadoes strike, they can wreck homes, streets, and entire communities. It’s no stretch of the imagination to say that tornadoes can cause homes and cars to fly in the sky and land far away from their original site. In most cases, tornadoes don’t uproot the building or vehicles. However, the damage does often require the need for significant repairs including:

  • Shingles, gables, blown-off roofs, and siding
  • Interior and exterior walls, floors, and carpets
  • The foundation of the house
  • Windows, gutters, shutters, and screens
  • Chimneys, garage doors, landscaping
  • The electricity and plumbing
  • Every other part of the home or building

Standard home and property owner policies should cover tornado damage and the damage to the contents of the home or building. The policy should also cover damage due to wind, rain, and lightning.

If a tornado was the result of a hurricane, the hurricane damage should also be covered in a standard policy. (Even after Hurricane Michael stopped dumping water all over the Panhandle, policyholders still had to worry about the tornadoes that formed in its wake.)

What damages should be covered

Property owners should ask an experienced tornado insurance lawyer to review their policies to verify they have the right coverage. The policy should cover:

  • The cost of all reasonable and necessary repairs
  • The cost of inspection reports to determine the extent of the damage
  • Living expenses if the occupants need to move while the repairs are being made
  • The value of the home if it can’t be repaired
  • The value of any damaged items such as furniture, clothing, and appliances

Our experienced Florida insurance dispute attorneys will fight to show that your policy covers the costs to replace damaged items, not just the value of the items. Replacement costs are often much higher than value costs because the items are valued as new instead of based on their age. For items like roofs, this means there is no depreciation due to the age of the roof.

Before negotiating any settlement, Warhurst Law will work with professionals who are trained to look for hidden and subtle defects which may develop into major problems if not repaired properly.

A note about roofing tiles, bricks, and other storm damage

If your home sustains some damage to bricks or roofing tiles, your insurance company may try to say you’ve suffered a partial loss. The fact is, any storm that packs enough punch to crack bricks has probably done far more extensive damage than you first realize.

The thing about bricks and roofing tiles in particular is this: they come in batches, and no two batches are alike. As such, you may be entitled to have your entire roof replaced, or to have your property declared a total loss, because these types of repairs cannot be done piecemeal.

These claims can be complicated, so contact Warhurst Law to discuss what kinds of replacements you could be entitled to through your policy.

Initial steps in any tornado damage claim

Before you begin any repairs, the insurance company will normally want to have its own professionals examine the damage and the cost to make the repairs. So, you’ll need to wait until the insurance company has made its review.

Some of the initial steps you’ll need to review with emergency officials and with professional contractors include:

  • Turning off the water or gas, if allowing them to run would be a safety hazard
  • Taking steps to minimize the risk of further danger such as placing a tarp over the roof
  • Moving wet items to a dry part of the home or building
  • Taking photographs and videos of the damage to every part of the home/building and all the damaged content

Hit by a tornado in Florida? Time to call Warhurst Law

At Warhurst Law, we have been fighting for policyholders since 1995. We understand the mindset of insurance adjusters and can anticipate many of the arguments insurance companies make to try to deny or reduce your claim. For help with tornado damage of any kind, including the complete destruction of a home or building, call 251-694-1932 or complete our contact form to arrange an appointment. We represent Florida residents and non-Florida owners whose Gulf Coast or Florida Panhandle properties were destroyed or damaged by a tornado.

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