Florida’s property/casualty insurers are likely to be flooded with Hurricane Ian insurance claims. Hurricane Ian slammed into the west coast of Florida as a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds of up to 155 MPH (nearly enough for a Category 5 hurricane). Even before Hurricane Ian made landfall, its feeder bands spawned tornadoes and severe thunderstorms that damaged homes across the southern half of the state, including Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.
But by far, the most significant damage is on the west side of the state in the following counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota. Sentry’s public adjusters are on the ground in the most-affected areas and available to help home and business owners with Hurricane Ian insurance claims.
What to Do If Hurricane Ian damaged your Home or Business
1. Mitigate storm damage
Storm damage mitigation helps you to avoid additional damage to your home or business. Once you return to the site of the damages and assess the situation, it’s time to start doing what you can temporarily to stop or slow down the deterioration of your structure. For example, you may need to temporarily seal a broken window that continues to let in water. Or perhaps a section of your roof was completely removed from your home, and now you’re worried about foundation damage and mildew occurring after your next rainstorm. Hiring a professional to cover your damaged roof with an industrial-sized tarp is an option.
As a home or business owner, it can be frustrating having to spend your own time and money on mitigating your storm damages, but sometimes, not doing this can cost you even more down the road. Many insurance policies require policyholders to perform basic storm damage mitigation after their structure has been damaged by a storm like Hurricane Ian.
2. Consider hidden damage
Roof damage, indoor flooding, standing water, and moisture damage are common occurrences after a major hurricane or storm, and these issues can do extreme damage if not addressed quickly. However, keep in mind there are many potential damages that can occur as a result of a hurricane, and not all of them are obvious to the naked eye. A hole in the roof is an obvious problem that needs to be addressed, but smaller damages such as clogged gutters, ceiling leaks, or damaged downspouts are all problems that can cost you quite a bit of money if they are not identified and taken care of in a timely manner.
3. Call a licensed public adjuster FIRST
Call a licensed public adjuster, like Sentry Public Adjusting, before contacting your insurance company. Sentry offers a free, no-obligation inspection of your home or business and your insurance policy. And there are no upfront fees. Sentry only gets paid a small percentage of your Ian insurance claim payment (and they will get you an average of 747% more than your insurance company’s initial offer).
The first contact with your insurance company is crucial. These interactions can mean the difference between your Hurricane Ian insurance claim being paid or denied. Properly documenting property that can be repaired and what needs to be replaced can be overwhelming. Sentry Public Adjusting can take on these tasks for you. It’s hard to calculate accurately what amount will adequately cover all the damages to your home. A public adjuster can help you with your Hurricane Ian insurance claim from the beginning.
Not having a public adjuster on your side is like going into court without an attorney to represent you. And yes, you can hire attorneys to represent you against the insurance company, but they will take a much higher percentage of your Hurricane Ian insurance claim payout.
4. Document all damage
It’s important to assess any damage to your property from a storm like Hurricane Ian. Make a list of any damage you can find. Also, list areas you suspect might have been affected by the storm but are not showing visible damage. Keep in mind that your insurance policy may cover your personal items if they were damaged, vandalized, or stolen. Was your garage door damaged during the storm, and now your vehicle is damaged as a result? Perhaps your fence and front door were blown down, and items were stolen out of your home before you were able to install replacements. If so, your insurer may take this into consideration when evaluating your claim.
Many homeowners insurance policies have an anti-concurrent causation clause in them. An anti-concurrent causation clause usually reads: “We do not insure for such loss regardless of a) the cause of the excluded event; or b) other causes of the loss; or c) whether other causes acted concurrently or in any sequence with the excluded event to produce the loss.”
This means that your home could be destroyed by a hurricane, but only some of it may be covered. Worst-case scenario, you could be left with no coverage for damages. Sentry can work with you and your insurance company to ensure that you get the money you deserve to repair your home or business.
5. Take photos and video BEFORE You Start Working!
Taking photographs or videos of your storm damage is essential to assessing your damages and receiving fair compensation for your Hurricane Ian claim. Before performing any work or repairs, take photographs or videos of your damaged property and record your losses. Roof damage, broken windows, indoor flooding, mold, and mildew are common damages associated with hurricanes and storms. It’s also important not to discard items. The insurance company will want to see everything to properly assess the damages.
6. Save receipts for hotels, repairs, food, etc.
In many cases, your insurance provider will compensate you for storm-damage mitigation expenses, such as materials, labor, and any additional housing expenses you had as a result of your temporary displacement. Make sure you save all receipts throughout this process.
7. Document all insurance company interactions
As mentioned above, it is most beneficial to you to contact a public adjuster before you call your insurance company. However, you can call a public adjuster at any point in the claim process, even if you were already paid or your claim was denied!
If you have already contacted your insurance company, be sure to make an accurate record of all your interactions. Insurance companies will use any information you give them to try to pay you as little as possible. That’s why it’s important to engage a public adjuster. Even if the insurance company sends an “independent” adjuster to assess your damage, that adjuster is working for the insurance company. A public adjuster works for you and will negotiate your Ian insurance claim with your insurance company to get you the maximum compensation for your damaged property.
If possible, get written bids from reliable, licensed contractors for repair work. Don’t sign any contract or anything that allows the contractor to start repairs. You only want estimates. These can help a public adjuster to move your claim along and avoid any lowball offers on your Hurricane Ian insurance claim.
Why Use a Public Adjuster for Your Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim?
Public adjusters, fully licensed by the state, advocate on behalf of the property owner to ensure proper navigation through the complex processes involved with a Hurricane Ian insurance claim. A claim that is professionally documented, appraised and negotiated will allow you to receive the maximum settlement according to your policy. Insurance company adjusters are trained to pay as little as possible for claims. Public adjuster fees are regulated by the state and will generally be a small percentage of the maximum settlement from the insurance company.
Sentry Public Adjusting has a proven track record of getting our clients the maximum claim settlement by working with insurance companies large and small, such as:
- Florida Peninsula
- State Farm
- Universal Property and Casualty
- Tower Hill
- American Strategic (ASI)
- St. Johns
Can a Public Adjuster Get You More for Your Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim?
Florida’s OPPAGA (Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability) office conducted an in-depth, statewide investigation of the insurance industry and how public adjusters were property damage claims.
The OPPAGA report found that:
- Homeowners who submitted claims without assistance received an average of $2,029 vs. an average of $17,187 when working with a public adjuster. Using a public adjusting firm, homeowners saw an average increase of 747% in their homeowners insurance payout.
- Incidents of complaints, fraud, regulatory actions and other issues with public adjusters were extremely low.
- Public adjusters in the State of Florida must pass rigorous, state-run licensing tests, permit exams, and carry extensive insurance policies.
- Public Adjusters are the only advocates exclusively representing the policyholder.
- Insurance companies attempt to discourage homeowners from hiring public adjusters.
If Hurricane Ian damages your home or business, Sentry Public Adjusting is here to help you find a way to move forward. Our team of licensed Florida public adjusters, inspectors, and mortgage liaisons will be your advocates on your Hurricane Ian insurance claim if your insurance company undervalues your policy or lowballs your payout. With decades of combined experience, our experts can closely inspect your home or business and help you get a greater understanding of how much money your insurance company truly owes you for your Ian claim. For more information on how we can be of assistance, contact us here or call today at 800-780-6141 to schedule a free inspection.