Hurricane Michael took a devastating toll on the lives of thousands of Florida property owners in 2018, resulting in significant property damage, financial distress, and other human costs such as loss of life, homelessness, and psychological trauma.
Areas in Florida that were most affected by Hurricane Michael include:
- Panama City
- Mexico Beach
- other areas in the Florida Panhandle
Over a year after this hurricane disrupted the lives of many Florida residents, over 15,000 property owners still have open claims with their insurance companies for hurricane damage coverage. Although this number is only a fraction of the 76,000 open claims from Hurricane Irma, many lawyers across the state agree that this delay in insurance payouts is unacceptable.
This number also does not account for the many Florida residents—including many elderly property owners—who aren’t even aware of their eligibility to file for hurricane damage coverage. Even still, there are others who have had their claims unlawfully denied or undervalued, resulting in coverage that is far below what is needed to cover total losses.
At Florin|Roebig, our lawyers have been following these updates regarding property owners in Florida who are feeling left behind in the wake of a hurricane that caused over $7 billion in insured losses.
If you or a loved one suffered property damage from Hurricane Michael and need assistance filing or disputing a claim with your insurance, contact our office to learn what our dedicated lawyers can do for you.
Impact Of Hurricane Michael On Florida Property Owners
Hurricane Michael struck the coast of the Florida panhandle in October 2018 as a Category 5 storm, becoming the first storm in history to do so.
It became the largest and most destructive storm of the season, wiping out large stretches of land, causing catastrophic damage in the Panhandle—hitting residential and commercial property owners particularly hard. The hurricane caused an estimated $25 billion in total damage, and became the basis for nearly 150,000 property damage claims across the state.
Types of property-related damage seen from Hurricane Michael include:
- collapsed roofs
- severe flooding
- broken windows
- uprooted trees
- water damage
- destroyed shingles and siding
- outdoor fixture damage (e.g. patio, porch, garage, pool, shed)
- fire damage
- damage from projectiles
- vehicle damage
- exterior wall damage
- foundational damage
Many of those property owners impacted by Hurricane Michael’s destruction of Florida property include older adults and the elderly, who may require assistance from family members, home health aides, or a legal professional in order to file a claim. This can be a major barrier for these elderly residents.
As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, many Florida residents who filed an insurance claim for Hurricane Michael-related damage were doing so for the first time. These residents likely had little knowledge regarding their policy coverage prior to filing for hurricane damage, much less what to do in the event that their claim was denied or underpaid.
Filing A Hurricane Damage Insurance Claim
In the wake of a disaster like Hurricane Michael, Florida residents who hold hurricane damage insurance through their homeowners or business insurance policy have the opportunity to file a claim with their insurer to seek coverage for hurricane-related damage.
Under Florida law, residential property insurers are required to process and pay claims within 90 days of filing.
Unfortunately, what many property owners have seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael is an astounding delay in the claims process. As of February 2020, approximately 20,980 claims have been closed without providing compensation for property owners.
A report out of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (FLOIR) on Hurricane Michael claims data shows that there are over 15,000 claims still open a year after the natural disaster, out of 149,773 total claims filed in the state.
Not all property damage is believed to be reflected in these numbers, as some lawyers believe there are many Florida property owners out there who are not even aware of their eligibility to file for hurricane damage coverage.
Florida counties with the greatest number of Hurricane Michael-related insurance claims include Bay County, Jackson County, Leon County, and Gulf County.
Understanding Hurricane Damage Insurance In Florida
What does it take to file a claim for Hurricane Michael-related property damage in Florida? This largely depends on the coverage information detailed within your homeowners or business owner insurance policy.
In Florida, many insurance policies require higher deductibles for hurricane-related property damage. Some insurance companies may require the purchase of a separate windstorm damage policy.
Most homeowners insurance policies that include coverage for hurricane damage cover losses related to wind damage. This can include water damage caused by wind-driven rain. However, what property owners may be unaware of is that hurricane damage coverage often does not include flooding insurance.
Damage caused by flooding typically requires the purchase of separate flooding insurance from another insurer, or the purchase of an additional insurance policy that specifically covers losses related to flood damage.
Hurricane Michael caused significant flooding along the Florida Panhandle, creating a significant challenge for property owners who were unaware of the limitations of the hurricane damage coverage detailed within their policies.
There are also ways in which some insurers may attempt to wrongfully deny or manipulate terms and conditions about water damage in their policy coverage to reduce how much they pay out to their policyholders.
While this is unlawful and unfair to policyholders, the process of disputing a claim can also become very confusing without the guidance of a skilled insurance claims lawyer.
What Can I Do If My Insurance Claim Was Denied Or Undervalued?
Statewide reporting on the insurance claims process in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael has revealed stunning information about a mismanagement of claims by some insurers and significant payment delays.
This has prompted incredulous remarks by several Florida legal professionals, who recognize the need for homeowners to receive immediate payment as quickly as possible to cover property damage losses.
Even in cases where homeowners have received payment from their insurer, there are many property owners who have received only a fraction of what their losses are worth, creating a significant obstacle on the path towards financial recovery.
In the aftermath of a disaster as destructive as Hurricane Michael, it’s critical that insured property owners receive prompt, competent, and reliable service from their insurers for covered losses.
Unfortunately, for many Florida property owners, this has not been the case. If you or a loved one has had a hurricane insurance claim wrongfully denied, delayed, or closed without payment—you may be eligible to sue your insurance company for bad faith tactics and other damages.
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Benefits Of Hiring A Florida Hurricane Insurance Lawyer
One common question among homeowners who wish to dispute an insurance claim is: do I need a lawyer?
Although hiring a lawyer is not required in order to dispute a claim, seeking legal assistance is highly recommended—particularly under these circumstances, in a situation where there are thousands of Florida residents who are having difficulty securing adequate compensation for the damages wrought by Hurricane Michael.
Homeowner insurance policies notoriously contain a great deal of complex legal language that can be difficult for most people without a law degree to decipher and dispute with an insurance adjuster.
Having the expertise of a lawyer on your side can offer a significant advantage by helping you to better understand your rights as a policyholder and helping you fight for the claim amount you deserve.
At Florin|Roebig, our hurricane damage insurance lawyers are committed to fighting for every single penny homeowners are owed in the wake of disasters like Hurricane Michael. Our Florida lawyers are here to listen to your story and serve as effective legal representation for you or a loved one as you seek legal recourse for a denied or underpaid hurricane insurance claim.
What our Hurricane Michael insurance damage lawyers can do for you:
- explain the coverage details within your insurance policy to help you better understand your legal rights as a policyholder
- determine your legal options based on the details of your case
- determine how much your claim is worth based on an assessment of your hurricane damage
- investigate your hurricane damage claim, if you believe your claim was wrongfully denied or undervalued
- handle communications with your insurance carrier
- consult legal, engineering, and insurance claim experts
- bring your case to trial if necessary to sue your insurance carrier for wrongful denial, delay, or other bad faith insurance tactics
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Contact Florin|Roebig For Help Disputing Your Hurricane Michael Insurance Claim
If you’re a Florida homeowner who has yet to receive fair compensation from your insurance company to cover losses from Hurricane Michael—the lawyers of Florin|Roebig can help.
Our Florida hurricane lawyers can help you if your property insurance claim:
- has yet to be filed
- has been wrongfully denied
- has yet to be processed
- has been grossly undervalued (less than the amount you deserve)
Voted one of America’s top law firms, Florin|Roebig has a strong record of advocating on behalf of clients of all ages and backgrounds who have faced difficulty receiving due compensation from insurers that have acted in bad faith.
Worried about the cost? Don’t be. Our initial consultation is free and our fees are a percentage of your recovery. You only pay us if we make a financial recovery for you. Both our attorney fees and costs are contingent on a recovery or you owe us nothing.
Don’t wait to learn how much your case may be worth. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our top-rated insurance claims lawyers.