History has a funny way of repeating itself. We have seen this story before twenty-five years ago during Hurricane Andrew. An overwhelmed insurance industry sending raw and poorly trained recruits to Florida to adjust insurance claims for the first time. As a result, many claims were poorly adjusted by the insurance company if not wrongly denied outright. I know, I spent nearly ten years trying to fix that mess on behalf of homeowners.
Wrongful Insurance Claim Denials
Let's face it, adjusters from Texas, Louisiana, or other neighboring states have limited knowledge as to the terms of your insurance policy or its coverage. They are also beholden to their master, the insurance company that pays them. Built into this system is an incentive to naturally minimize payments to you as the homeowner. Safe to say, the "independent" insurance adjuster, that is the guy that ONLY works for insurance companies, is not always looking out for your interests. Already in the early stages of Hurricane Irma, I have seen several instances of "independent" insurance adjusters telling homeowners that their claim is not covered when it is. This is amazing but true. As a result, you need to immediately consult with a Florida insurance lawyer for a review of any insurance claim denial.
Underpayment of Insurance Claim Damages
A second travesty from the "independent" insurance adjusters working on behalf of the insurance company is they are not familiar with local costs for materials or labor. Plugging in data to a computer to spit out a generic repair estimate that may work in St. Louis is not necessarily going to work in Florida. Likewise, due to the incentive to minimize payments, "independent" insurance adjusters are prone to get the scope of damages wrong by missing, intentionally or not, entire areas of damages. I cannot stress enough how important it is to secure a public adjuster to act as your advocate against the insurance company. The insurance company has their "independent" insurance adjuster, why would you not secure your own?
The Keys Are Just Different
As all Floridians know, the Florida Keys is just a different place and so are its people. The same can be said of the damages from Hurricane Irma. The Florida Keys, especially Marathon, Big Pine Key, and Little Torch Key took the brunt of Hurricane Irma. The devastation was catastrophic with homes suffering both flood and wind damages. A one-two punch with the storm surge taking out the ground level and the hurricane winds taking care of upstairs. If that was not bad enough, mold has and will complete the knockout as it runs rampant throughout these soggy homes unabated. Addressing these unique issues will take a special, creative, and resolute effort to absolutely maximize coverage. Do not accept "no" from your insurance company and accept nothing less than what you are owed.
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.