Monday, November 21, 2011

Miami Beach: Get Ready Now for Hurricane Damage, Tropical Storm Emily Headed Our Way: What to Do After the Storm Hits

In a prior post, we discussed what to do in preparation for a hurricane - something that we all expect to happen in our lives sooner or later, here in South Florida.

Today, the Miami Herald is reporting that Tropical Storm Emily is increasing in power, and will be a hurricane soon. Emily is tracking a course that may bring her to landfall here ... or very close to South Florida.

What Should You Do After the Hurricane Hits?
Hopefully, Emily won't be as powerful or as devastating as storms of the past but we can expect some Floridians to have serious property damage in even the mildest of hurricanes.

So, assuming that you and your loved ones are safe and secure while a hurricane lambasts your Florida home, what should you do when you return to find your home, car, boat, truck, etc. damaged by the winds and rain?
  • First, since you have prepared in advance, you will have an insurance policy that covers this sort of thing. You'll gather all the information that you can about that policy (a copy is best; even the name of the agent or company may have to suffice).
  • Second, you can contact the insurance company yourself about filing your claim. Many do. However, it may be wise to contact an injury lawyer first, who can go over the legalese with you regarding coverage as well as help in the negotiations with the insurance company.
  • It may also be smart to get estimates, etc. from contractors if you can, to give you an idea about your damages before you start dealing with the insurer. Time is a factor in filing your claim, too, so be prudent here.
  • Third, remember that you will be entering into negotiations with an adjuster who has suddenly been given a huge caseload because his region has been hit by a hurricane. Money in settlement will be a big concern for the company big wigs who will want to keep the overall cost of this storm to their company at a minimum. These companies spend lots of time and money worrying about the outlay of a future hurricane - and they will be monitoring their own bottom line after the storm hits.
Negotiations can include not only the value of the damage and reimbursement for a lost asset, it can also involve an argument on whether or not something is legally covered by the policy. Your insurance company is not on the same side of the table as you are: if there is a lawsuit, you will be plaintiff and the company, the defendant. Your insurance agent's interests are not that of a best friend helping you through a crisis, no matter how they look in the TV commercials.

Emily may hit Miami Beach, or she may not. Maybe no hurricane will hit Florida this year. However, it's better to be safe that sorry -- so get ready now for the big storm, and if we are hit, then call a lawyer if you need help with your insurance claim.

By Bryant Esquenazi on August 2, 2011 3:53 PM

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