Hurricane season is approaching quickly, and although many Floridians can still see remnants of damages from last year, the weather is stopping for no one. As the temperature of the ocean rises, things are only appearing to get more dangerous and bring the potential to cause more damage.
Dealing with the hurricane is just the beginning. If you experience property damage or flooding, dealing with your insurance company can be another nightmare. Prepare yourself for this season by knowing the potential of big storms hitting Florida, and of big changes in the way insurance providers cover hurricane damage.
What Are The Chances Of a Busy Hurricane Season?
It’s likely we’re going to see at least a few storms this year. Although experts from Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science still say it’s too early to tell what this hurricane season will look like, we’re probably looking at an above-average to average season.
There is a 40% chance that the season will produce between 6-8 hurricanes (with only two or three reaching major status). There is about a 20% chance that Florida will experience a busy hurricane season, with 9-11 hurricanes. Of those hurricanes, four or five may be Category 3.
Again, there is only a 20% chance of this happening – but you need to be prepared.
How Will This Year Compare to Last Year?
2016 was one of the most expensive hurricane seasons in years. The season was unusually busy and produced seven hurricanes and eight tropical storms. Of the seven hurricanes, three were major.
Hurricane Hermine has cost over $200 million in property damage. Hurricane Matthew’s costs have reached into the billions. They pale in comparison to the 2004 hurricane season (which racked up $45 billion in damages), but this year’s damages are preliminary, and leave out costs that local governments have paid without state assistance.
The effects of the high cost of these hurricanes goes beyond 2016. When the price of hurricane damage drastically increased, so did abuses of hurricane insurance. Because of this, insurers now often make it more difficult to receive compensation. Something that may hurt many South Florida homeowners in the upcoming season.
How Are Insurance Companies Preparing for the Hurricane Season?
It may be harder than ever before to find an insurance company that will cover South Florida residents. Private insurance companies have been working with state legislature in an effort to curb claims abuses, but it looks like they’re getting nowhere. If lawmakers fail to pass a bill that will address these issues, private insurance companies may stop writing policies for South Florida homeowners.
In fact, many companies have already begun this process. Realtors have reported that they have been denied coverage because the insurance company did not want to cover certain zip codes in South Florida.
In contrast, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is expected to grow by 50,000 policies this year. The state-run provider is often regarded as a “last resort.” Citizens is among one of the providers that is asking the legislature for changes, hoping to curb the number of lawsuits filed by Florida citizens after receiving their policy.
What Does This Mean For You?
If a hurricane damages your home this season, communication with your insurance provider may be tenser than ever. Without help from Florida lawmakers, insurance providers may be more likely to cry foul on a claim and deny you coverage.
Insurance companies can use any number of excuses to try and deny you coverage: the damages are technically “flood damages,” your house wasn’t up to building codes, you live in an unsafe area, and so on. Proving that your claims are legitimate can be extremely frustrating (and costly).
If your coverage is denied, you will need to prove that your insurer acted in bad faith. Unfortunately, doing this can be incredibly difficult. Your best bet is to hire a personal injury lawyer who has experience in property damage and bad faith claims.
Together, you and your lawyer can bring in third party experts to assess the damages to your home, as well as your interactions with your insurance company. By simply appearing on the scene, a lawyer can help an insurance company change their mind about your claim and settle out of court.
Bottom line? If your coverage is denied, don’t give up. You deserve compensation after your property has been damaged by a hurricane. Contact a Florida personal injury lawyer to have experienced, passionate legal representation by your side this hurricane season.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.