Every hurricane season residents in the Caribbean, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas can be affected. Parker & Waichman, LLP has worked with victims of hurricanes Jeanne, Ivan, Frances, Charley, Wilma, Rita and Katrina towards getting their insurance claims paid.
Homeowners repeatedly face considerable hurdles when trying to get their insurance claims paid. If a homeowner believes (s)he has an insurance problem, having a lawyer on your side before contacting your insurance company is the most useful method. Insurance companies have a tendency to treat claimants more fairly when the playing field is equal and the insurer is aware that the claimant has legal representation.
Insurance companies are obligated by law to handle your claim with good faith and fair dealing. Nearly all states have laws governing how insurers deal with claimants and call for insurers to make a written offer to settle a property damage claim within 30 days after receipt of a “satisfactory proof of loss” for the claim. Then again, even when insurance companies counter within 30 days, they reject claims left and right.
Homeowners insurance normally does not cover floods resulting from a hurricane; instead the National Flood Insurance Program often covers flood damage. A large amount of homeowner’s policies enclose a sentence excluding flood, surface water, waves, tidal water, overflow of a body of water or spray from any of these. Homeowners insurance does cover things such as wind damage and damage from wind-driven rain. Insurers use the disclaimer about flooding to get out of paying claims on homes damaged only by wind.
Many residents fight with their insurance companies over whether the damage was caused by flooding, wind, or wind-driven water from storm surges. Many inland residents find that their claims are denied and that their insurers cite flooding disclaimers. The denial of homeowner’s claims in non-flooded areas is considered a bad faith practice.
In Florida, the State Legislature approved a law that joined the Florida Residential Property and Casualty Joint Underwriting Association (FRPCJUA) and the Florida Windstorm Underwriting Association (FWUA) to establish the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens). Citizens makes available insurance to homeowners in high-risk areas and others who cannot find coverage in the open private insurance market. However, this insurance and the federal flood insurance are costly, and even for residents of non-high-risk areas, claims are being denied in bad faith.
Legal Help For Victims Affected By Hurricane Claims