Insurance Claims Litigation Attorneys

At the Law Offices of Paul K. Schrier, we are proud to be a complete personal injury and accident insurance claims litigation professionals. We have offices throughout Florida to ensure the highest possible client service for people who need legal assistance protecting their rights against insurance companies.

Claims For Hurricane Irma Damages

Hurricane Irma has left most Floridians with significant property damage and the insurance claims process is just beginning for residents seeking to recover for damaged property and vehicles. Different insurance policies provide coverage for different aspects of damage, including windstorm, homeowners, flood, and auto insurance.

Before you file a claim, our law firm should review the specific language in your policy to see what you have coverage for. Generally, your homeowner's policy will cover roof damage, broken windows and water damage. Most vehicle damage will be covered under your vehicle's collision coverage.

While it is best to have one of our top notch lawyers in your corner immediately, here are a few important points to consider if you decide to try to handle the initial aspects of your claim on your own.

  1. File your claim as quickly as possible. In insurance terms, even if you believe that the costs fall under your deductible or that you can easily pay for what you believe is the minimal cost of all repairs, it is a much better idea to have reported the claim early than to learn after the fact that you should have filed the claim because the costs exceed your expectations.
  2. Be aware of your hurricane deductible. This is the amount you must pay before your insurance will begin to pay for your damages. The application of hurricane deductibles is triggered by losses resulting from a named hurricane, and applies only once during hurricane season.
  3. The initial contact with your insurance company will determine whether your claim will be paid or denied. Generally, insurance company adjusters are trained to resolve claims for the smallest amount possible or simply to deny claims if they think that they can attempt to justify doing so because of a potential technicality under the policy. You may believe that you are starting a claim; however, from the adjuster's perspective, the claim analysis begins from the moment you speak with the company. If you decide to file a claim with your insurance company, before hiring our Insurance Litigation Law Firm, please note what is listed below as just a few, of the many tasks, items and/or issues to be aware of to partially assist you:
    1. Read through your entire homeowner's insurance policy, including any endorsements and amendments, to see what is covered and how to report a claim. If possible, speak with our law firm first so that we can consider getting involved immediately.
    2. Do not agree to being recorded over the phone, including by a recorded or sworn statement over the phone. You generally have the right to provide a statement in person or in writing. Of course, every policy is different and you should consult with our law firm first.
    3. Conduct all communications in writing and keep copies of everything submitted. If you have a phone conversation, follow it up with a confirming email or a confirming letter.
    4. Create a detailed list of everything that has been lost or damaged, including damaged property and as many personal items as possible.
    5. Document all damages and those that you have reason to believe should be explored by a contractor. Make sure all photographs have a date and time stamp or maintain a list with the date and time that the photo was taken.
    6. Create a list of each person who witnessed the damage or losses and what each individual on the list will be able to testify to, (including, but not limited to how the losses occurred, along with the names of any contractors or persons who performed repairs.
    7. Maintain a list of every contact with your insurance company, including the first and last name of every person you speak to, the date you spoke to them, and what you spoke to them about.
    8. Create a file where you keep all of your claim records, including past records, previous repairs or inspections of your home. This will make it more difficult for the insurance company to claim the damage was preexisting or unrelated.
  1. When an adjuster comes to your home, have your photos ready, including receipts for repairs you made to the damage. Receipts for the repairs and for the original cost of the items being claimed as damaged, are extremely important to retain and secure.
  2. Under Florida law all wind losses and damage that is caused by a named storm, such as Hurricane Irma, and a hurricane warning or watch is issued by the National Weather Service, to your home should be treated as hurricane losses under Florida Law.
  3. Every Florida homeowner's policy contains a "cooperation clause." These clauses contain "technicalities" which could result in your claim being underpaid or even denied. Most importantly is the requirement that the insured appear for an "Examination Under Oath" or "EUO" at the request of the insurer. An EUO is a formal sworn statement that is usually conducted in the presence of a court reporter. Insurance companies are supposed to use EUO's to verify losses; however, it is also a tool that is sometimes abused to deny claims filed by reasonable customers. During the EUO you will either be questioned by an insurance company investigator or an insurance company attorney. Our law firm does not recommend that you handle your case by yourself or that you appear at an EUO without one of our attorney's. We cannot emphasize this more. The attorney or investigator who questions you may sit you down for several hours and make you answer complicated or confusing questions, despite being courteous at the beginning. Most or all of these questions will be intended to get you to say or admit something that they can use against you. One well-known tactic is for an insurance company to send you a letter in the mail requesting that you appear at a designated time and place for your EUO. The insurance company will generally give you very short notice and will not try to coordinate this date with you because they know that if you are unable to attend they can simply deny your claim. The letter may require you to show up in another city or at a time when you may have another obligation. If you receive a letter requesting an EUO and you are unable to attend, it is extremely important that you respond to the insurance company in writing by fax or email and advise them of the following (1) that you are willing to cooperate and attend an EUO, (2) However, that you need to reschedule the date and time that was selected, (3) you would like to appear with your attorney.
  4. Always respond to any letters that request additional information. When you respond always (a) state that you will cooperate (b) ask for more time to get the information (c) send the information as soon as you can.
  5. Under Florida law, if an insurance company denies, underpays, or improperly disputes a claim by their insured customer in any way and a lawsuit is filed, they are generally required to pay their insureds reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. This law was created to even the playing field between Floridians who have no background in handling insurance claims and the massive multi-billion-dollar insurance industry.
  6. If your homeowner's insurance policy includes coverage for loss of "personal property" such as televisions, appliances, and similar items, they are generally required to reimburse you or replace the items of the "same, like, kind, and quality." Your policy will dictate whether an item must be replaced or if it can be repaired.
  7. Homeowner's policies do not provide coverage for flooding and storm surge losses. These losses are now covered by the Federal Flood Insurance Program.

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