When a tornado with sustained winds of 132 mph tore through Cape Coral in January, initial estimates put the total property damage in the range of $5.5 to $6.5 million. However, officials cautioned that the actual figure was likely to be substantially higher, as workers hadn’t yet finished assessing the full scope of the damage.
News outlets reported that a total of 178 structures were damaged by the tornado – including 15 homes (one of which was completely destroyed) – and photos showed boats sitting upside down in people’s yards and cars covered in debris. Thousands of Cape Coral residents saw their homes damaged in the storm.
City officials approved a $1.2 million expenditure for debris removal, but that of course did nothing to begin the process of repairing the homes and businesses that were left exposed to the elements. That relief would have to come from the insurance companies. Unfortunately, for many people, dealing with the claims process is all that stands in the way of making the repairs they need to get back to their normal lives.
Insurance Claims Process Leaves Homes Exposed to Further Damage
In the immediate aftermath of the storm, many – if not all – of the affected homeowners did what you are supposed to: they filed claims under their homeowner’s insurance policies. However, as reported in the local news, many homeowners found their insurers’ responses to be inadequate.
For example, one family was reportedly waiting for an adjuster to return to their home several days after the storm, after initially being told not to touch anything despite the fact that their home was continuing to take on water.
Protecting Your Rights Under Your Home, Windstorm or Flood Insurance Policy
If you are waiting on your insurance company and not getting the response you expect, what can you do?
As a homeowner, you have the right to have your claim processed in accordance with the terms of your homeowner’s insurance policy. The same goes for windstorm and flood insurance. Insurance companies have a duty to process all claims in good faith, and this means not doing things like:
- Failing to conduct a timely investigation
- Unreasonably delaying or denying coverage
- Denying coverage without a reasonable basis for doing so
- Refusing to settle your claim
- Misrepresenting the terms of your homeowner’s insurance policy
If your insurer is handling your claim in bad faith, you may be entitled to financial compensation above and beyond the coverage stated in your policy. See more examples of common bad-faith insurance practices.
It is also important not to take what your insurance adjuster says at face value. The adjuster works for your insurance company, and has his or her employer’s best interests (not yours) in mind. For instance, in most cases homeowners have a responsibility to mitigate water intrusion in order to prevent the spread of mold. If your adjuster is telling you not to do anything to protect your property, it will be worth your while to seek unbiased advice from an experienced attorney.
Schedule a Property Damage Insurance Claim Consultation at Saavedra Goodwin
To learn more about your rights under your insurance policy and under Florida’s insurance laws, contact the law offices of Saavedra Goodwin for an initial consultation. Send us a message online or call (954) 767-6333 and request to speak with one of our Fort Lauderdale property damage lawyers today.