A hurricane insurance lawyer can help you enforce your claim arising from hurricane, wind, rain, or storm damage, especially when your claim has been denied by the insurance company. Hurricanes, though infrequent in New York, can cause a lot of property damage. For example, Hurricane Sandy in New York caused $73 billion in property damage.
A hurricane insurance lawyer can help you build a strong case with your insurance claim. The lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to ensure that you get the full amount you are entitled to.
Your hurricane insurance lawyer will also advise you whether you can make a bad faith insurance claim against your insurance company. A bad faith claim will allow you to get compensation for emotional distress, attorneys’ fees, punitive damages, and additional losses arising from the insurance company’s action.
Most insurance claims lawyers will accept a case on a contingency basis. They will only receive an amount when the insurance company settles your claim or receive a favorable judgment from the court.
When hurricane damage happens, it’s important to keep in mind the following:
- Review your insurance policy to see whether the damage you have sustained is covered by the insurance contract.
Most homeowners or business owners have insurance to protect their property from damage in cases of natural catastrophes. It’s important to remember, however, that not all natural calamities, such as hurricanes and storms, are covered by the basic household insurance contract. Some require a special flood or hurricane insurance policy to be bought separately, especially if you live in a flood-prone area. For this reason, you have to review your insurance policy to see whether the damage is caused by a cover peril in your insurance contract.
- Identify the cause of the property damage.
Property damage, especially during hurricanes, may be difficult to identify. Hurricanes may cause strong winds and rain to damage your house, or it may also cause surging floodwater to enter your house, causing property damage. Although both types of property damage may arise from a hurricane, one may be a covered peril while the other is not. For example, damage to your roof caused by the wind and rain may be covered by the basic household insurance, but damage due to storm-related surging floodwater may not be covered. Sometimes, property damage may arise from two causes: a covered and a non-covered peril. New York courts have adopted the “efficient proximate cause rule” where property damage will be covered if the covered peril is the predominant cause of the damage.
- Document the damage
When filing for a hurricane insurance claim, it’s important that your claim is supported by documents. For this reason, you need to document all the property damage. List everything in your home that was damaged and review that list twice to make sure you did not forget anything. Check places where damage might not be apparent, such as cracks in the walls, in a swimming pool, in the garage, or in an outdoor shed. Take pictures of your house, the roof, and all the property damage from all sides. These photos will support your claim. Get a quotation from a contractor so you can prove to the insurance company how much it will cost to repair the damage. A credible contractor will have experience in working closely with an insurance claims adjuster to ensure that the repairs will be covered by the insurance company. Maintain a written record of all your communications with the insurance company.
- Determine whether you need expert analysis regarding your property damage.
Sometimes, when extensive damage occurred in a building or a house, an architect, engineer, or a construction expert may be required to analyze the extent and cause of damage your property sustained. You need to obtain this expert analysis immediately after the hurricane. You cannot get this expert analysis anymore once repairs have been made. This expert analysis will support your claim for property damages.
- Timely file your claim.
Insurance policies provide a period after a hurricane when you can file your claim. Insurance companies strictly observe this period to file the claim. Filing your hurricane insurance claim outside of this prescribed period can definitely lead to its denial. For this reason, make sure that your claims are timely filed with the insurance company.
- Mitigate the property damage
Your insurance policy will likely contain a clause that requires you to mitigate the property damage so that no further substantial damage is caused after the hurricane. Otherwise, the insurance company will argue that the damage you are claiming occurred after the hurricane. If there is a hole in your roof, cover it with tarp. If there are parts in your house where water can enter, cover it as well. But don’t make permanent and substantial repairs until after the insurance claims adjuster has approved it.
- Prepare for the worst.
Hurricanes can result to extensive property damage in the state, and the insurance companies will receive a deluge of hurricane insurance claims. To maintain profitability, insurance companies will offer a lower amount than what you are claiming or deny your claim outright, no matter how legitimate the claim is. The insurance claims adjuster will argue that your hurricane insurance claim is not a covered peril. Even your insurance broker might say the same thing. When this happens, consult with a hurricane insurance lawyer immediately.
If you need a hurricane insurance lawyer, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.