Hurricane Irma raked through the state late last Saturday night and into early Sunday morning. Not only did it affect all of Florida, but especially Polk County, as the eye wall passed right over Winter Haven, Lakeland, and surrounding cities. During this time, homeowners in Florida will often rely on their homeowner’s insurance to give them a sense of security and help cover damages caused by Mother Nature. Without this coverage, homeowners are left without options to repair damages to their homes caused by wind, rain, and water. In a simple world, insurance claims would be filed, processed, and approved quickly to help cover homeowner’s out of pocket expenses; however, that is rarely the case. In the days and weeks following a natural disaster, insurance companies can receive a tremendous amount of claims resulting in the processing of claims on a first come, first served basis. This can result in claims being dismissed, denied, or unpaid due to lack of information and/or documentation.
In the event that you or someone you know is denied coverage for damages to your home caused by Hurricane Irma, we’ve compiled a list of steps to help you in the right direction.
Document the damaged items & take a lot of photographs
Insurance adjusters will come and take pictures of your home to assess damages, but may not capture all the damage done to your home and personal belongings. It is important that you document & retain evidence of all damages, including personal property; the adjuster you originally dealt with may be a subcontractor who is not around later. Many times pictures and documentation are misplaced and sometimes lost.
Save all bills and receipts from repairs
It is recommended to obtain multiple estimates. This will help set the expectation with the insurance company that you have done your homework.
Contact a disaster assistance agency.
Here are some agencies that provide interim assistance:
– Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
– Small Business Administration (SBA)