There is no real recognized insurance term called Hurricane Insurance, however, we like to define it with what we call the Hurricane Insurance Equation: PROPERTY INSURANCE + WINDSTORM INSURANCE + FLOOD INSURANCE = HURRICANE INSURANCE.
In the event of a hurricane you can have a multitude of different perils. Lightning, fire, gas leaks, plumbing and sewage problems, and thefts are part of your PROPERTY INSURANCE policy.
Obviously, windstorm is a great risk during a hurricane. If your roof blows off, windows are broken or trees fall on your home or business, this is covered by your WINDSTORM INSURANCE. Flooding is probably the most overlooked and costly part of any hurricane. Damage arising out of rising water from rain or damage from tidal surge from the Gulf of Mexico or Bays is covered by FLOOD INSURANCE.
Friends, let’s face it, insurance for most people is important only twice in any given time period: The day you buy it and the day you need to file a claim.
To reiterate, Coastal Insurance Agency is an Independent Insurance Agency. We sell insurance policies for many insurance companies. We have the authority in most cases to issue insurance coverage on behalf of the insurance companies, but Independent Insurance Agencies are not allowed to adjust claims or make claims decisions after a loss has occurred. All claims are handled by the insurance companies.
After recent storms, many insurance customers faced major frustration with the insurance claims process. Insurance companies are large, often seemingly uncaring entities when it comes to paying claims. However, in most cases the insurance companies do care, but they are overwhelmed with claims. It is critical that you be prepared ahead of time to deal with the claim process. Filing a hurricane claim is not like filing an automobile insurance claim. There is a detailed and complicated claims process.
Being informed and patient will serve you well. Some helpful hints in filing a hurricane insurance claim:
I. Be prepared, read, and understand each of your insurance policies. Know which policy covers the damage that you have. Filing your claim with the wrong insurance company will stall the process.
II. Be sure that you have all three parts of the hurricane insurance equation. For example, if someone convinced you that you did not need flood insurance, they were likely wrong. If you do not have a flood policy, you have no coverage for rising water or storm surge.
III. Store your policies together in a safe location. Storing them at your beach house is a bad idea. You will need these policies in order to efficiently file a claim.
IV. You can file your claim with Coastal Insurance Agency and we will contact the company or you can file your claim directly with the insurance company. A list of companies and their claims numbers are attached. Please do not forget that if our area is hit hard, we may not have phone service or internet service for weeks, so filing directly with the company will likely be faster for you. Email us or send us a note letting us know that you filed your claim directly so that we can help you follow up.
V. If you live out of town, have a local contact person that can meet the on site adjuster when he or she comes to town. Remember, after a major storm, hundreds of adjusters will be working in our area. If you miss an appointment, they might put you to the back of the line.
VI. If you can, take photos of the damage.
VII. Your policies allow you to make temporary repairs, save your receipts and don’t throw anything away if you can help it.
VIII. One flaw in the claims system in Florida is that we, the agents are often left out of the routine information flow. If we do not know about your claim (you filed direct with the company and did not notify us), we cannot help you follow up. Even if we do know about your claim, if there is an ongoing problem that you are having, nobody from the insurance company will tell us unless you do.
VIIII. FEMA will have an office in the area. Watch the newspaper for location and contact numbers. Free blue tarps for roofs and other valuable material may be available.
X. Be careful in selecting contractors for repairs. Only Florida licensed contractors are to be used. We might be in a position to refer you to some quality local contractors.