Hurricanes are one of the most destructive forces in nature, they have the ability to destroy homes and entire communities in just a few hours. This sudden loss of property and the emotional damage it can cause is a debtor, however, having an insurance policy as owner should offer you some peace of mind, knowing that damage due to a hurricane or tropical storm is covered.
However, that could not be the case. Even when you are paying for insurance each month, when you need it most, the insurance company could simply try and find a way to pay you as little as possible or evade the total payment for the damages suffered to your property.
The hurricane season lasts from the beginning of June until the end of November, according to the National Hurricane Center. Since 1968, the average number of recognized storms that form every year is 11.8 and the number of strong hurricanes is around two on average.
Faced with these frequent devastating storms, property owners along the coast and other areas susceptible to hurricanes should make sure they know what the insurance policy covers and what to do after a storm, so they can start with the reconstruction.
Common types of damage caused by hurricanes and tropical storms
Hurricanes bring strong winds and heavy rain. After these natural forces move towards an uninhabited area, the place could resemble a war zone. For example, strong winds could leave the streets covered with shingles torn from the houses, sources of collapsed energy, trees uprooted and signs of traffic shattered.
The magnitude of the damage will depend on the strength of the hurricane, which can be numbered from one to five based on the wind speed of the storm. Regardless of the strength, hurricanes have five main levels that people should keep in mind when it comes to property damage.
The wind speed is a determining factor in the strength of the hurricane and probably its most dangerous risk. The strength of the hurricane is based on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale, which determines the number of the category and the type of damage that could be expected according to each level.
Category 1: Storms with wind gusts over 74 mph are considered hurricane category-1 and are strong enough to destroy roofing, shingles, vinyl siding and channels. The large branches of the trees could break and the superficial roots of these would be sent to fly. There would even be damage to power lines and poles that would result in power outages.
Category 2: Storms with wind gusts over 96 mph are considered hurricanes of Category-2 and can cause further damage to roofing and siding of houses, uprooting trees and severely damage the beamlines.
Category 3: Storms with gusts of wind above 111 miles per hour are considered category-3 hurricanes. These storms can tear the deep roots of the trees and probably leave without electricity and without water.
Category 4: Storms with gusts of wind above 131 miles per hour are considered category-4 hurricanes and can cause serious damage to houses with total losses in roof structure and even some exterior walls. Most of the trees will be broken or uprooted and the poles collapsed, making it difficult for rescuers to reach residential areas.
Category 5: Storms with gusts of wind above 155 miles per hour are considered the most dangerous. Only three hurricanes of category-5, have appeared in the EE. These are hurricanes that have the power to destroy well-built houses, causing damage such as the total loss of roof and the collapse of the walls, while also tearing the roots deeper from the trees and making that the traffic signals become dangerous projectiles.
Hurricanes are also known to bring with them torrential rains that can fall between a few inches to different feet in a short period of time. The amount of rain has nothing to do with the strength of the storm, but with the speed at which it moves. Storms that move slowly last over a certain area longer and therefore more rain falls.
The amount of rain can be a grievance for other factors that would destroy cars, cause water damage in homes, crack the foundations of buildings and in the worst case lead to drowning people.
Steps to follow after a hurricane
Unfortunately, even with the best attempt to protect someone’s property, this will probably end up with some kind of damage with the passage of a hurricane. If your home or business is damaged in the storm, you will want to make sure you take the following steps to make sure your insurance claim is handled in a fast and fair manner.
Cover your affected property: It is important that if your property suffers any damage, it is covered with an awning or something similar to prevent water intrusion or any type of subsequent damage. Remember, the insurance company will take any reason to avoid paying you and if they declare that your property is more deteriorated after the storm, they would blame you for the damage and deny your claim.
Document everything: It is advisable that you start from the outside and collect the whole house in each shot, the four sides and everything you can from the ceiling. Also be sure to take pictures of the entire garden. Start taking panoramic photographs, then zoom in to get more details. Then head in and take pictures there. Start with full photos of the rooms and then scroll to take individual photos of the items. A complete photographic record is important to be able to prove the losses in case you need to file a claim. As you take the photos, take an inventory of the affected property. This will also help with your request.
File your insurance claim as soon as possible: Insurance policies usually require you to act quickly after the damage of a storm. That is why it is very important that you gather your photographs, write your inventory and file your complaint as soon as possible.
What does my insurance cover?
Generally, there is no such thing as hurricane insurance, because the normal owner policy typically covers wind damage and flood insurance is purchased separately. What the homeowner’s policy covers differs by location, so be sure you know what the rules are based on your state.
For example, in Florida an owner policy will cover the damage caused by the wind, which means that, if your roof or siding is ruined by it, the damage will be covered. However, there is a special deductible, which is set to a certain percentage based on the total amount of the policy and must be performed before the insurance starts to pay for the damage hurricane damage in Florida.
Of course, this is in only one state and if you live elsewhere the rules will be different.
This uncertainty is good for the insurance company, because it will try to take advantage and say that it is not responsible for some damages. When many people are running the insurance claim due to the passage of a hurricane, the insurance company is looking to limit the actual amount of money that it really owes. This will cause them to reject claims and grant low offers even when they should not.
For this reason it is crucial to carefully read the insurance policy, being clear what it covers and if it requires another policy separately. This is also important since, if the insurance company rejects your claim or grants a low offer, you will know that they are being dishonest.
- Tactics of insurance companies
- Here are some tactics that insurance companies would use to make the money claim more complicated:
- Deny even that there is an insurance coverage.
- Deny your claim because it is excluded or partially excluded according to your policy.
- Reject any part of your claim.
- Delay the process, adjustment or payment of your claim, without just reason.
- Making misleading or false statements towards you.
- Refuse payment under a cover (policy) and try to force it to consolidate the coverage of another policy.
- Try to lower it with undervalued estimates, offers or payments.
- Say that you do not need a lawyer to resolve the claim.
- Require a written statement of any additional claim as a condition of agreement or payment of your claim.
The insurance company’s paycheck or accompanying letter uses terms such as “total” or “final” when you reasonably think you have a supplemental or additional claim for the loss.
If you encounter any of these problems, or any other dispute with your insurance company, managing the situation on your own could cost you more time and be difficult. If you do not have the savings to do the repairs for yourself, the insurance money is essential to begin reconstruction. Alternatively, using the savings that you have worked throughout your life to repair the damage caused by the hurricane will affect the ability to pay for your family’s education or even to take the vacation you deserve.