Preparing your home and commercial business for hurricane insurance claims- Hurricane Florence Edition
I write this as Hurricane Florence spins off the coast of North Carolina. Right now it looks to be a category 4 or 5 storm.
As a North Carolina Bad Faith Insurance lawyer, I deal with cases where homeowners insurance or commercial insurance wrongfully adjusts or wrongfully handles storm claims. These claims typically include refusing to pay for storm damage, refusing to properly replace a damaged roof, excluding flood damage, or simply low balling repair estimates.
So what can you do right now before the storm hits?
1) Make sure you have a copy of your insurance policy and declarations page. Read through what is covered. Know your coverage when you report your loss.
2) Prepare your home and business. You have a duty to mitigate damages when you can do that safely. Preposition tarps and repair equipment in a safe place so you can immediately plug holes and leaks. Have some buckets ready to catch water from leaks.
3) Take video of your home and business inventory. Preserve copies of important records before the storm hits. Take your phone and walk around your home or business and record items of value. Narrate the video and explain what the item is. For businesses, make sure you know and document exactly what is in inventory. Keep these papers with you when you evacuate.
Did you know that you can hire a lawyer to negotiate losses with your insurance company? There are non-lawyers who act as "public adjusters" and charge you a percentage of what you recover. But most public adjusters are no lawyers, so that can not advise you on the legal meaning of your insurance contract, or whether the behavior of the insurance company is in violation of good faith requirements for insurance companies. Furthermore, if the insurance company won't do the right thing, only a lawyer can file a law suit to enforce your rights under your insurance contract. Many law firms charge exactly the same as non-lawyer public adjusters to negotiate claims before litigation begins.
Nichols Law Firm has experience handling storm losses and works with experienced engineers, architects, roofers, and general contractors to make sure you get the fair and full value for your loss.
On a personal note, I grew up in Hurricane country. I lost my home in 2004 to a huge tree when a micro-burst toppled a 100 ft pine tree on my house during Hurricane Isobel, right here in North Carolina. I, my wife, and my 2 year old were in the home when it happened- thankfully no one got hurt. I know exactly what it is like to be displaced from your home and have your insurance company haggle with you over everything. It's very personal to me.
So be prepared for the worst, but hope for the best!
Nichols Law Firm