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Articles Posted in Hurricane and Storm Damage Insurance

2020 is one of the most active storm seasons ever in the waters around the State of Florida, the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.

STORM DEDUCTIBLE CONFUSION?!

Florida Property insurance policies typically have two deductibles. A standard deductible for most losses; and a hurricane deductible. The standard “Other Perils” deductible is for pretty much anything covered by the policy, such as fire, pipe bursts and appliance related water damage claims, or windstorms, etc. The hurricane deductible only applies to named Hurricanes. The last major hurricane to hit Florida was Hurricane Michael in the panhandle on October 10, 2018; and more recently in the western portions of the Florida panhandle for Hurricane Sally on September 16, 2020, and Hurricane Zeta on October 28, 2020. Hurricane deductibles are typically 2 or 3 percent of the limit of the insurance for the home which is a lot higher than the standard deductible for all other claims. The Eta storm of November 2020 started off in South Florida counties like Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County as a Tropical Storm (not a hurricane). But as storms in Florida do, things changed, and the weather system chased west back into the Gulf of Mexico where it was reclassified as a Hurricane for a short period of time before heading back to the Nature Coast across Florida again as a Tropical Storm.

key-west-81664_1920-1-1-300x199DON’T GET FOOLED BY YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY!

First, an insurer may rush to slap a hurricane deductible on your claim when it should not apply because a Tropical Storm is not a hurricane. Second (and this is really the most important!), Insurers in Florida have often told their customers after a storm that unless they absolutely know that their damage is more than their hurricane deductible, then they should not even put in a claim. There are many reasons why this is terrible advice and a bad business practice by insurance companies. As the policyholder, it is not your job to know the exact amount of damage you have in the weeks following a severe storm. You also may discover that the storm caused much more damage than you initially thought or could see in the days following the hurricane. Many Floridians have fallen for the insurers gambit only to attempt to make their claims later on and be told its too late to make the claim.

If you believe you have Hurricane or Tropical Storm damage from any of these strong weather systems that brought havoc to Florida, please call us and we can assist you in determining which deductible applies, assist you with determining the actual extent of the damage to your home, and provide needed guidance through the process with your insurance company.

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key-west-81664_1920-300x199Monday started the Atlantic Hurricane Season, and now with the coronavirus pandemic still lingering, preparing for this season might be a bit different than previous years. 

By the time the Category 3 Hurricane Dorian hit Florida’s East Coast in September of last year, it brought damage to the Daytona Beach Pier and caused powerful storm surges with wind damage throughout Florida’s East Coast.

And with hurricane season raping up again, the threat of another strong hurricane lingers. 

A Pembroke Pines homeowner is suing an insurance company, alleging breach of contract.

The man filed a complaint March 23 in Broward Circuit Court against Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company, alleging failure to provide coverage after a hurricane.

According to the complaint, on Sept. 10, 2017, the man sustained damaged property and repair costs when his property was substantially damaged by Hurricane Irma while his insurance policy was in full force and effect. However, the suit says, despite the man’s efforts to perform all obligations to recover under the policy, Universal Property has refused to provide coverage for his claim.

The man claims that Universal Property and Casualty Insurance has refused to pay to replace and/or repair the full amount of damage to his dwelling, and forced him to retain and pay for an attorney’s services in bringing legal action.

Hurricane Irma was the largest storm to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. With mandatory evacuations and 185 mph winds, the aftermath of this storm left many homes and properties destroyed. Our Florida Hurricane Insurance Attorneys at Whittel & Melton know that even if you have homeowners insurance and did everything in your power to protect your home, insurance companies may still refuse to payout for damages. We can protect your interests when insurers refuse to pay valid claims.

Most homeowners insurance policies require that you give notice to the insurance carrier immediately after the damage occurs. If you wait too long to contact your insurance company, they could deny your claim because of your failure to act promptly.

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An Orlando property owner is suing an insurance company, alleging breach of contract.

The property owner filed a complaint Feb. 2 in the Orange County Circuit Court against Florida Specialty Insurance Company, alleging failure to pay for damage caused by a hurricane.

According to the complaint, on Sept. 11, 2017, while the Orlando property was insured under a homeowners insurance policy, it sustained a covered loss due to Hurricane Irma. However, the suit says Florida Specialty has refused to provide coverage.

The property owner alleges Florida Specialty Insurance has failed to fully pay for all of the insurance losses and forced the property owner to retain the services of an attorney.

Our Florida Hurricane Claims Lawyers at Whittel & Melton represent homeowners and businesses in hurricane damage claims in Orlando and the surrounding areas. We know how hard it can be to get your insurance company to cooperate following a hurricane or storm damage claim. We can help you recover what is rightfully owed to you, according to the terms of your policy agreement.

Insurance companies use tactics that are meant to protect the company’s interests and do not always act in good faith when it comes to paying out for valid claims. We are more than familiar with the unfair strategies insurance companies use, including:

  • Denial of a claim
  • Delayed payment of a claim
  • Underpayment of a claim

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A Stuart couple was hospitalized this week after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning while running a generator in their home, according to the Martin County Health Department.

The couple was brought to a hospital Tuesday after complaining of shortness of breath and chest pain. They remain in the hospital, the health department said.

At least four families in Palm Beach County suffered carbon monoxide poisoning this week after keeping running generators in closed garages, according to health officials.

As of Thursday afternoon, 16,740 customers in Martin County were still without power because of Hurricane Irma, according to the Florida Power & Light website.

In Palm Beach County, 156,150 customers were still without power.

Our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton strongly urge you to read through the operating manual before you operate a generator so that you fully understand how the machine works. You can avoid injury by always following the manufacturer’s guidelines and keeping the following safety tips in mind:

  • Never use a generator in an enclosed space. Carbon dioxide produced by the engine can build up, causing potentially fatal fumes.
  • When using a generator, keep it outdoors and at least 5 feet away from windows, vents, and doors.
  • Always use a battery-operated carbon-dioxide detector when you are running a generator. Make sure the batteries are new.
  • Before refueling the generator, allow it to cool for a minimum of two minutes, since gasoline vapors are extremely flammable. Use fresh gasoline, or stabilize gas with a fuel stabilizer if you do not use the generator for 30 days.
  • Make sure that you follow the maintenance schedule that is recommended by the manufacturer.
  • If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is rated for generator use and that it is grounded.
  • Power generators should never be plugged into a home outlet.

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Treasure Coast officials are ordering mandatory evacuations Saturday for Martin County for Hurricane Irma.

Residents living on Hutchinson Island, Jupiter Island and Sewall’s Point should expect to be evacuated. As of now, Martin County remains under a voluntary evacuation order, which is part of the state of emergency

After the devastating effects of a Florida hurricane, you will likely face costly repairs and rebuilding work. You may also need to replace your possessions or automobiles, and you could be without a job if your workplace suffered damage. Worse than that, you may be without a place to live in Florida or basic necessities for the days and weeks to come.

With that said, you may be left questioning what you should do next.

Our Martin County Hurricane Claim Attorneys at Whittel & Melton understand the terror you’ve been through, and the loss that goes with hurricanes. We know firsthand how vital it is that you receive the compensation you deserve from your insurance company so that you can start to rebuild your life.

Our goal is to protect you from the insurance company’s habit of protecting their own bottom line. We will aggressively fight for your interests so that you can rebuild after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma.

Whether you are a home or business owner located near the Treasure Coast, you understand the risks, but it doesn’t mean you have to settle for less than your insurance policy guarantees should your property be damaged by Hurricane Irma. We stand ready to help you deal with your insurance company, so that you can focus on your life, your home, and your loved ones.

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It’s looking like residents can expect Hurricane Irma to be a category 3 to category 4 storm by the time it reaches Okeechobee County.

Currently, the Okeechobee County Emergency Management team is telling residents that they recommend a voluntary evacuation to low lying areas and areas prone to flooding.

Claims to insurance companies should be answered promptly and policyholders should be fully compensated under the policy terms. Sounds easy enough, right? Sadly, many home and business owners will not have an easy time getting fair settlements for their claims after Hurricane Irma blows through.

Our Okeechobee County Hurricane Claim Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are prepared to help you go to battle against your insurance company, negotiating for maximum legal compensation for Hurricane Irma claims based on:

  • Property damage or property loss
  • Business interruption
  • Structural foundation claims
  • Water damage and mold claims
  • Underpayment or “lowball” settlements

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Hurricane season doesn’t officially begin until June 1, but President Donald Trump has proclaimed this week ‘National Hurricane Preparedness Week.’

The time to prepare is now, before any storms make it to Florida. The last thing you want is to be caught off guard- this could be a deadly mistake.

Many people facing tropical storms and hurricanes last year in Florida, wish they had been more prepared, and for good reason. This is why President Trump hopes people get prepared right now during Hurricane Preparedness Week.

Your to do list should include:

  • Coming up with an evacuation plan
  • Getting your disaster supplies together
  • Calling your insurance company for a checkup to make sure you have the right coverage
  • Checking your home to make sure it’s in good condition and can withstand a storm
  • Checking in with your neighbors on their storm plans
  • Writing down your hurricane plan so your whole family is in the know

Our Florida Hurricane & Storm Damage Lawyers at Whittel & Melton would like to recap the 2016 hurricane season. We started with a rare January hurricane, Alex, and ended with Hurricane Otto which made landfall in Nicaragua on November 24. This year was an above-average season. There were 15 named storms and 7 hurricanes. There were 3 major hurricanes: Gaston, Matthew and Nicole. Category 5 Matthew was the strongest one.

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Today is the last day of hurricane season, so we thought we would recap this year’s stats.

The 2016 season started with a rare January hurricane, Alex, and ended with Hurricane Otto which made landfall in Nicaragua on November 24.

This year was an above-average season. There were 15 named storms and 7 hurricanes. There were 3 major hurricanes: Gaston, Matthew and Nicole. Category 5 Matthew was the strongest one.

Tampa Bay was impacted by Tropical Storm Colin in the first week of June. While it stayed out in the Gulf of Mexico, the area saw rough surf, some coastal flooding and strong winds. Clearwater Beach reported a wind gust to 49 mph.

Hurricane Hermine made landfall just east of St. Marks, Florida in the early morning hours of September 2nd with winds of 80 mph. Hurricane Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

It brought a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet to parts of the coast from Manatee County to Citrus County. The storm surge was 7.5 feet at Cedar Key. There was heavy rainfall (6 inches to more than 20 inches of rain in some spots) and strong wind gusts in Tampa Bay. Indian Shores had a wind gust of 78 mph. St. Petersburg reported a wind gust of 63 mph and Tampa had a wind gust of 46 mph.

Tropical Storm Julia formed near Jacksonville on September 13, and was an unusual storm since it formed over land, not over water.  

Then there was Hurricane Matthew. As it moved toward the east coast of Florida, close to 2 million people in were ordered to evacuate. Although the center of Matthew stayed just offshore, there was a wind gust of 107 mph on the tip of Cape Canaveral on the morning of October 7. Fernandina Beach in Nassau County reported a peak water level of 6.91 feet. This ranks as the third highest water level recorded there, above Hurricanes Dora and Jeanne. There was also more than 8 inches of rain in some areas.

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Gov. Rick Scott on Monday signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency for all of Florida as Hurricane Matthew threatened to wreak havoc on the East Coast later in the week.

Hurricane Matthew was southeast of Jamaica on Monday but was predicted to head north and likely produce “devastating impacts from storm surge, extreme winds, heavy rains, flash floods, and/or mudslides in portions of the watch and warning areas in Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas,” the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

While the path remains unclear as the storm goes further north, the Hurricane Center said direct hurricane impacts are possible in Florida later in the week.

Our Florida Hurricane & Storm Damage Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want you to be prepared for Hurricane Matthew. We urge you to read through the following and make sure you and your family are properly outfitted with supplies in case of an emergency.

Have a 3-7 day supply of each item for every person in your home:

Water

  • 1 gallon of water per person per day stored in clean plastic containers

Food

Purchase foods that require no refrigeration and little preparation, such as:

  • Ready-to-eat canned food
  • Canned juices, milk, soup
  • Snacks like cookies, cereals, etc.
  • Soft drinks, instant coffee, tea
  • Lots of ice – so you can freeze your water supply!

For Baby

  • Formula, bottles, powdered milk, jarred baby foods
  • Diapers, moist towelettes and special medications

Pets

  • Newspapers or cat litter
  • Canned or Dry Food
  • Plastic sheets to cover floor of pet’s room

Medicine

  • First aid kit
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Aspirin, non-aspirin pain reliever, antacid
  • Extra prescription medication  – ask your physician how to store prescription medication
  • Personal Items
  • Toilet paper, towels, soap, shampoo
  • Personal and feminine hygiene products
  • Denture needs, contact lenses and an extra pair of eyeglasses

Other Supplies

  • Battery-operated radio, flashlights, non-electric can opener, extra batteries
  • ABC-rated fire extinguisher in a small canister
  • Portable cooler
  • Plenty of absorbent towels, plastic trash bags
  • Wind-up or battery-operated clock
  • Tarp or sheet plastic, duct tape, hammer and nails for temporary roof repairs
  • Cleaning supplies such as chlorine bleach
  • Aluminum foil, paper napkins and plates, plastic cups
  • Can of spray paint – this can be used to identify your home by insurance adjusters in case it’s damaged
  • At least one change of clothing per person, sturdy shoes, hat and work gloves
  • Pillows and blankets or sleeping bags

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