Florida Keys Hurricane Claims
Hurricane Irma slammed into the Florida Keys more than six months ago. There is no disputing the fact that this catastrophic storm devastated the area as though a bomb went off. Ground zero for the destruction included Cudjoe Key, Summerland Key, Little Torch Key, Pine Key, and Marathon.
If homes were not destroyed by the storm surge in these low lying areas, then the winds took care of the rest. From floor to ceiling, very little was spared. Sprouting countless tornadoes together with hurricane force winds, Hurricane Irma wiped out entire neighborhoods.
So after six months, where do we stand in the rebuilding efforts? The short answer...not good. Despite the fact that the cause of damages is not disputed, insurance companies have still found a way to stall and delay the investigation of claims.
Time may pass fast when you are having fun, but not so much when you are living in an RV next to your destroyed home. Many homeowners still have not had a full and complete inspection of their damaged homes outside of the preliminary and rushed first inspection that came weeks after the storm. If they were lucky, homeowners received partial payments for their damages.
When an entire home needs to be repaired or rebuilt, there is not much you can do with only a partial payment. Mortgage lenders are not going to release repair funds to the owners if they do not have a repair plan in place. Owners cannot have a realistic repair plan in place if they do not have all the required funds. So here we sit, stuck between a palm tree and a coconut.
To Sue or Not to Sue, that is the Question
Initially, I am sure that many folks believed that their insurance company would treat them fairly after Hurricane Irma. After all, that is what insurance companies are obligated to do according to their own insurance policies. How many still believe that after six months without receiving a full payment for their damages? How many still think their insurance company will do the right thing when it does not return telephone calls, respond to letters, or go to appraisal when demanded? You know what they say, crazy is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Just saying.
If at this point you are still going nowhere real fast with your insurance claim, it might be time to consider filing a lawsuit. In Court, your insurance company will have to answer you. There are time limits in Court. Your claim cannot be endlessly delayed in Court without repercussions. Best of all, when you win in Court, the insurance company will have to pay your attorney's fees.
By law in Florida, anyone that prevails in a lawsuit against their insurance company recovers their attorney's fees. Most experienced insurance lawyers will take your case without charging you out-of-pocket legal fees or taking a percentage of your insurance claim. Rather, an experienced Florida insurance lawyer will take your case based on what a Court will award in legal fees. This is a win-win situation for homeowners, as you can obtain an excellent Florida hurricane lawyer to get what you deserve from your insurance company, while at the same time forcing them to pay for your insurance lawyer when you win.
Act Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
Time is a wasting. Enough is enough. You paid your premiums on time to the insurance company. Now it is about time to hold the insurance company responsible for wrongly delaying and denying your insurance claim. Educate yourself. Ask questions. Seek help. Speak to a qualified and experienced Florida insurance lawyer. You are going to need to protect your rights before you lose them in the Conch Republic, from Key to Shining Key.
About the Author: Patrick Russell, Esq., has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1994 and is an experienced Florida insurance lawyer. Patrick started his insurance law practice more than twenty years ago when he represented homeowners and business owners for their Hurricane Andrew insurance claims. The purpose of this article is educational and not for the solicitation of legal services. The goal is to avoid the mistakes learned from the past, specifically those from previous windstorms. Knowledge is power. Information is free. Mistakes are costly. If you would like more tips on how to process your Florida insurance claim, Patrick can be reached at (305) 608-2977 or here.