In the Fort Lauderdale area, tropical storms are a fact of life. While hurricanes make headlines, tropical storms are far more common, and they present many of the same property casualty and damage risks for homeowners and commercial property owners. Of the 15 tropical storms in the Atlantic Basin during 2016, only seven (including Hurricane Matthew) became hurricanes, but the damaging winds and rains from the year’s non-hurricane-force storms still wreaked havoc for home and business owners throughout South Florida.
For these families and proprietors, recovering from the effects of these storms meant filing claims with their property insurance companies. Unfortunately, many of them learned the hard way just how difficult securing coverage for tropical storm damage can be.
Securing Insurance Coverage for Tropical Storm Damage in South Florida
To be clear, this is not because tropical storm damage is excluded under typical homeowner’s and business property insurance policies – it isn’t. Rather, it is because many insurance companies will go to great lengths to delay and deny payment of their policyholders’ claims. Let’s look at some of the typical types of tropical storm-related damage that should be covered under a standard property insurance policy:
- Wind Damage – Wind damage should be covered, regardless of the severity of the storm. This includes not only damage resulting directly from strong winds (such as damage to roofs or siding), but other wind-related losses as well. For example, if a tree branch breaks a window and penetrating rains cause water damage in your home, this type of loss should be covered.
- Downed Trees – Damage caused by trees downed during tropical storms is also covered under most standard policies. This includes damage caused by trees on you and your neighbors.
- “Ensuing Losses” – Even when your home or business sustains damage as a result of an excluded peril (such as a flood, which typically requires separate flood insurance), damage indirectly resulting from the flood may still be covered as an “ensuing loss.” A thorough investigation may reveal that damage which initially appeared to be flood-related was actually the result of another cause further down the chain of events and is covered under your policy.
- Damage to Personal Property – Depending upon the level of coverage you selected when you purchased your policy, you may be entitled to coverage for the actual cash value (ACV) or the replacement cost of personal property items damaged in the tropical storm as well. Note, however, that items of significant value are commonly excluded, and insurers will frequently only volunteer to pay ACV even under replacement-cost policies.
Get Help for Your Tropical Storm Damage Insurance Claim
If you are struggling to deal with your insurance company after a tropical storm damaged your home or business, it is important not to give up fighting for the coverage to which you are legally entitled. At Saavedra | Goodwin, we are experienced property damage attorneys who represent home and business owners in disputes with their insurance companies. To schedule an initial consultation at our offices in Fort Lauderdale, send us a message online or call (954) 928-9568 today.