When your home is damaged in a tropical storm, hurricane or other natural disaster, you have an obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent ongoing damage. This obligation, which exists under the terms of your homeowner’s insurance policy, means that you may be required to make temporary repairs such as putting a tarp on your roof, boarding up broken windows and taking steps to prevent the spread of mold. If you fail to make temporary repairs, your insurance company may try to argue that you are to blame for some of the damage sustained, and it may try to limit the amount of your coverage accordingly.
So, if you need to make temporary repairs, what options do you have available?
Making Temporary Repairs After a Storm: Making the Repairs Yourself
Some homeowners may wish to try to make temporary repairs themselves. Maybe you are a licensed contractor. Maybe you aren’t licensed, but you are capable of doing what needs to be done. Or, maybe you simply cannot find a qualified contractor who is available to make the repairs in a timely manner.
If you make necessary temporary repairs yourself, you may be entitled to reimbursement from your insurance company. While homeowners typically cannot earn a profit from doing insurance work (unlike contractors), your insurance company may have an obligation to pay for your labor and materials, and you may even be entitled to a limited amount for “overhead” expenses. If you want to make repairs yourself, consider contacting your insurance company first, and make sure you keep receipts for any tools and materials you purchase.
Making Temporary Repairs After a Storm: Hiring a Contractor
If you hire a contractor to make temporary repairs, make sure the contractor is licensed, and try to get multiple estimates so that you do not unnecessarily deplete the coverage you have available for permanent repair work. Be wary of contractors going door-to-door, as these will occasionally be scam artists who do not actually intend to do any work on your home.
Additional Considerations for Making Temporary Repairs After a Storm
Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind:
1. Carefully Review Your Policy
Before doing work yourself or hiring a contractor, review your homeowner’s insurance policy carefully so you know what is covered.
2. Hire a Public Adjuster
Consider hiring a public adjuster. A public adjuster will be able to help you decide what temporary repairs are necessary, and will also be able to assist in ensuring that you receive appropriate coverage under your policy.
3. Take Before-and-After Photos
Regardless of whether you do the work yourself or hire a contractor, take plenty of before-and-after photos. You want to be sure to thoroughly document the original damage to your home as well as the steps you have taken to mitigate any further damage.
Are You Struggling to Obtain Coverage from Your Insurance Company?
If you are struggling to obtain coverage from your insurance company, our property damage attorneys can help. At Saavedra | Goodwin, we have decades of experience representing homeowners in coverage disputes and bad-faith insurance claims. To speak with an attorney at our offices in Broward County, call (954) 767-6333, or send us your contact information and we will be in touch as soon as possible.