When you file a property damage claim with your insurance company, you have to pay a portion of the cost to repair your home. This is known as your “deductible.” If your home suffers $20,000 worth of damage in a storm and you have a $500 deductible, your insurance company will pay $19,500 for necessary repairs resulting from the peril (assuming, of course, that your insurance company accepts liability and agrees to pay the full amount of your claim).
However, understanding your deductible is not always as straightforward as it seems. This is especially true here in Florida, where many serious property damage claims involve wind and water damage from hurricanes and tropical storms. If you need to file a home or flood insurance claim as a result of a storm in South Florida, here are some key facts you need to know:
What Homeowners Need to Know about Their Deductibles
1. You Can (Within Limits) Choose Your Deductible
When you purchased your homeowner’s insurance policy, whether you knew it or not, you chose a deductible. Your insurance agent may have explained your options, or you may have been offered the premium-deductible combination that provided the greatest financial benefit for your insurer. In either case, you signed a policy with a claims deductible, and (unless you modified your deductible later) that deductible now applies to your property damage claims.
Your deductible is related to your policy premium. The higher your monthly, semi-annual or annual premium, the lower your deductible. Many people choose to increase their deductibles in order to lower their monthly expenditures. While policyholders generally have broad leeway to request changes to their deductibles, once your home has been damaged in a storm, you will be stuck with the deductible you have in place.
2. Your Home Insurance and Flood Insurance Deductibles May Be Different
Home insurance and flood insurance are separate policies. This is true even if you have both policies through the same insurance company. In Florida, flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and some private insurers have authorization to sell policies in certain areas.
Since you have separate policies for home insurance (which covers wind damage) and flood insurance, when you file a claim for storm damage, there could potentially be two different premiums that you have to pay. The first step is to determine the policy (or policies) under which you need to file, and then you can figure out your personal financial liability.
3. You May Have a Special “Hurricane Deductible”
Following Hurricane Andrew in 1992, many insurance companies began to charge special “hurricane deductibles” for homeowners’ covered claims. These are larger than standard deductibles, and they are commonly triggered by the National Weather Service’s storm characterization.
Contact the Broward County Insurance Claim Lawyers at Saavedra | Goodwin
If you are struggling to deal with your insurance company after a hurricane or tropical storm in South Florida, the attorneys at Saavedra | Goodwin can help. To schedule a confidential consultation, please call (954) 767-6333 or contact us online today.