For years, Florida residents enjoyed summer after summer of hurricane-free weather. That was until Hurricane Matthew broke the cycle in 2016. While many thought they were covered, some discovered far too late that their coverage wasn't enough.
Though we may not see another Matthew-like hurricane this year, it doesn't hurt to prepare for the worst. June 1st, the start of hurricane season, is just around the corner. By taking the time now to review this hurricane season insurance checklist, you could save yourself a major headache later on.
1. Carefully review your policy. Take the time to review your policy now and really ask yourself, "Is my policy limit enough to rebuild my home?" If you're unsure, talk to an attorney with experience in insurance law. Know what will and will not be covered so that you can prepare for any potential scenario.
2. Take inventory of everything you own. Make a detailed list of everything you own and their estimated values. This will give you an idea of how much it would cost you to repurchase everything you lost and to identify any gaps in your coverage.
Check your insurance policy too. Some policies will replace personal possessions at their current value while others will only give you the depreciated value. If you aren't sure, your insurance agent or an insurance law attorney can help.
3. Know your hurricane and windstorm deductible. It's important to know that insurers in coastal states like Florida have separate deductibles for hurricanes and windstorms. This deductible is expressed as a percentage of the insured value of your home, which will then be deducted from your insurance payout.
4. Check to see if your policy includes Additional Living Expenses. If your home is completely destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, you'll need to stay somewhere else while your home is being rebuilt or repaired. The cost of a hotel and eating out at restaurants can add up quickly. If your policy has ALE coverage, a portion of these expenses are covered.
Be warned, however, that some insurers put time limits on how long you will receive reimbursement. Your home may still be considered uninhabitable when reimbursement stops, which means any added expenses are your responsibility.
5. Seek legal counsel if your insurer delays, denies or "lowballs" your claim, or you suspect insurance bad faith. You buy insurance for peace of mind not for the headache of hearing excuses from your insurance provider about why they can't pay you what you need.
Insurers who refuse to pay, undervalue and delay claims or intentionally give incorrect information about a policy are acting in bad faith. You don't have to take their word for it. You can get a second opinion from someone who has your back, such as a qualified insurance law attorney like those at the Wells Law Group.