Filing an insurance claim after a natural disaster
If you or a loved one has suffered damage to your property as a result of a natural disaster there are important decisions you will be faced with in the up-coming weeks. Making an insurance claim after a natural disaster is time consuming, aggressive, and requires a fight. Choosing the right professional is essential to preserve your families financial interest and obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Often times, when a natural disaster occurs your attention will be sought by those who have a financial interest in contacting you. This can include public adjusters, attorneys, and representatives of insurance companies. Do not assume that these individuals have your best interest at heart, following a natural disaster emotional distress is likely and can impair your decision making. Do not sign any documents that might affect your legal rights without first consulting with an attorney you trust.
When you file a claim with your insurance company, your insurance company will advise you that a personal adjuster will contact you shortly. This personal adjuster is NOT an agent of the insurance company and you are NOT required to have them manage your claim. Generally, a public adjuster can help you navigate through the hurdles of filing an insurance claim. Claims arising out of a natural disaster, however, require heightened skills. A cookie cutter approach will not suffice to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. More importantly, there are various legal ramifications involved in a natural disaster.
Public Adjusters v. Attorneys
A public adjuster is not held to the same ethical standards as an attorney and will attempt to convince you that recovery will be nearly impossible if you do not allow them to manage your claim. That is simply not the case, the insurance cannot deny coverage where it exists, but the insurance company will try to save money wherever possible, this means they might undervalue your claim, or scare you into thinking that your policy will be cancelled if you file a claim.
Your insurance company has a duty to act in good faith and fair dealing. A public adjuster cannot practice law and therefore does not have leverage against the insurance company should they not act in good faith. Insurance companies are aware of this and are inclined to provide lower insurance proceeds when an attorney is not involved. A natural disaster is an extreme circumstance, hiring a professional with leverage, and negotiating skills is essential to obtain the recovery owed to you and your family.
Hopefully, prior to the natural disaster you have taken pictures of your property. After the disaster, it’s time to take pictures of the damage caused. Be thorough. If repairs need to be made immediately and you cannot wait for a response from your insurance company, make the repairs, photograph them and document all expenses.
Contact an attorney you trust, I always recommend speaking to your family attorney first, have them review your policy and determine whether you are covered. When you’re ready to file a claim, or move a current claim along, hire a reputable attorney. It is important to hire someone who will have your best interest at heart, is knowledgeable, and who you can trust.
At Dania S. Fernandez and Associates, P.A. we are committed to helping our South Florida community get through such a difficult time. Fluent in Spanish and English, our team is available to walk you through this tedious task. For assistance filing an insurance claim please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 305-254-4492.
Nathalie Santos, Esq.