This past winter’s precipitation seemed more than the norm, but appearances can be deceiving, particularly when it comes to reducing the risk of wild fires. It is important to understand how the weather affects the likelihood of wild fires, how to prepare for future insurance claims and when to call in experienced Broward County property damage attorneys to protect your legal rights.
A Longer-Term Weather History is the Best Predictor of Future Fire Risks
According to a February News 13 story, this past winter actually delivered a normal amount of rainfall. It seemed extraordinary only when compared with a number of prior dry years. One season’s rain does not provide full saturation. It only soaks into the outer surface of exposed wood. A raging wild fire can dry out those outer surfaces almost instantaneously to get to highly-flammable wood under the surface.
Do not let recent rains stop you from taking fire risks seriously. Floridians need to be constantly prepared to take action against partial or total loss of property.
Certain Issues Can Shatter Any Fire Damage Claim
Whether you sustain total losses from a wild fire or even if the fire department saves much of your property, you can easily find yourself paying out of pocket for much of the damage due to issues such as the following:
- Without an inventory, claims are reduced: If you cannot produce a convincing list of your possessions, insurers may use regional averages to determine the reimbursement amount — particularly if this average is less than the actual value of your losses. Before a fire or any disaster hits, develop a detailed inventory of your possessions and make sure you keep a copy off-site to protect it from damage.
- Replacement costs are higher than actual costs or fair market value: With some exceptions, household items that you purchased 10 years ago are worth less than the cost that you would pay to replace them today. If your property insurance policy makes reimbursements based on actual costs or fair market value, a claim settlement will not provide the funds needed to replace all lost items. Naturally, replacement-cost policy premiums will be higher than actual cost or fair market value policies. However, if you live in a high-risk area, the additional premiums may be worth it.
- Obtaining repair bids can be costly and time consuming for property owners: As a general rule, property owners are advised to select the middle of three bids for any type of work. Insurance companies typically ask for three bids and elect to pay you off the lowest bid.
- Not all damage is immediately apparent: Scorched carpeting can easily hide the damaged flooring beneath it, and this same concept can apply to many areas of your property. You need to dig down to the bottom layer to ensure all damaged items are included in your claim.
A Property Damage Lawyer Can be Essential in Protecting Your Right to Full Compensation
Proper preparation can help ensure you receive fair treatment from your insurance company after a loss. However without an experienced fire property damage attorney in your corner, you can easily experience surprises that you may not recognize until long after the insurer settles your claim.
Even if you have only slight suspicions about the fairness of a settlement offer, it costs nothing to learn about your legal options and find out how we can help. To get started, call us at (954) 767-6333 or use our convenient online contact form.