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Storm damage: Making sure your home is covered

If you're dreading the next few months of hurricane season, you're not alone. Hurricane Matthew last year was a wake-up call for a lot of Floridians. For years we went without a powerful hurricane in our state, which lulled a lot of home owners into a false sense of security. Some home owners neglected their insurance policies as a result, which had ruinous financial consequences for some after the storm passed.

This year, however, home owners should be prepared for the worst, which includes their insurance policies. This means, of course, checking to see what's covered, updating an insurance policy and understanding what it means when an insurer is acting in bad faith.

Will your policy cover all forms of damage?

Storm and hurricane damage can come in many forms including:

  • Structural damage
  • Lost roof shingles
  • Blown off roof
  • Water damage
  • Holes and cracks in siding
  • Foundation damage
  • Cracks or rips in your windows or screens
  • Dents or the complete destruction of your garage door

Don't think that fire damage isn't possible in a hurricane either. Though rare, hurricanes have been known to produce lightening that can strike a home, start a fire and destroy everything in the structure.

Does your policy cover all of these potential forms of damage? If your answer is no or you're unsure, now is the best time to review and update your policy. Having adequate coverage is the first step toward ensuring full compensation if the worst should happen.

Is your insurer acting in good faith?

Tropical storms and hurricanes can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, which are costs home owners hope their insurer will cover in their entirety. Unfortunately, not all insurers act in good faith after a storm.

Bad faith insurance can take on many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Refusing to pay on a valid claim
  • Delaying payment
  • Failing to investigate a claim
  • Failing to negotiate a claim settlement
  • Offering substantially less than the actual value of the claim

Basically, your insurer has a duty to act in good faith, meaning they shouldn't be actively looking for ways to get out of their contractual obligation with you. If this happens, you may hire an attorney and take legal action.

Are you prepared for another hurricane season?

Preparing for the Florida hurricane season is more than just stocking up on food and water, and securing your home. You may need to review and update your insurance policy as well. And when the storm has passed, you should know what damage is covered and how to identify and address bad faith insurance practices.

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