Hurricane Damage Lawyer in Miami
With its long coastline and southeast location, South Florida residents are under constant threat during the six-month long Atlantic hurricane season that runs from June through November. The latest seasonal report issued by the hurricane forecasting team from Colorado State University called for an Atlantic hurricane season with thirteen named storms, five hurricanes, two intense hurricanes, and an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) of eighty. 
Miami is extremely susceptible to land-falling hurricanes and windstorms, having braced several high-impact storms in recent years. Hurricane-force winds, storm surges, and flooding leave millions of dollars’ worth of property damage for Miami’s residents. In 2017, Hurricane Irma damaged 1,585 homes in Miami-Dade County alone, resulting in 55,012 insurance claims.  Unfortunately, property insurers frequently deny or lower damage claims after legitimate hurricane or windstorm damage. Policies are often written to give insurers the leniency to deny claims if they argue that the damage existed prior to the hurricane, was caused by long-term property neglect, or was caused by water instead of wind. These assertions may completely negate your legitimate hurricane damage claim.
The hurricane damage lawyers at Schlacter Law understand that legal action may be necessary to achieve the proper reimbursement you deserve after a hurricane damages your home or business. Our knowledge of hurricane damage claims rivals that of any insurance company, and we will aggressively fight for your rightful compensation.
Thehurricanedamage.com is Here to Help
There are several types of property insurance options that provide Florida property owners with hurricane coverage for multi-peril or wind-only damage. Whether you own or rent your home or business, you can get hurricane coverage for your property through any of the following types of policies:
Homeowners insurance: Many home insurance policies in Florida include hurricane damage as a standard coverage area. However, in high-risk counties like Miami, you may need to purchase a special hurricane endorsement. This additional coverage generally comes with a higher deductible amount but may cover damage to both the structure of your home and the property inside of it in the event of a hurricane.
Mobile home insurance: Special coverage may be necessary for mobile and manufactured homes, as the lack of a solid foundation makes these properties more susceptible to strong windstorms and hurricane damage. Find a policy that covers against heavy winds and torrential downpours.
Renters insurance: If you rent a home in Miami, your landlord is responsible for covering hurricane damage to the structure of your building, but not the contents inside. You will need your own additional renters insurance policy to protect against damage to your personal property.
Condo insurance: If you live in a condominium, your condo association’s master policy will cover the structural damage to your building, paid for through your HOA fees. Residents are responsible for wall-in damage, including hurricane damage to your interior walls, floors, ceilings, electrical fixtures, appliances, built-in cabinets and countertops, and personal belongings. A comprehensive condo insurance policy will cover these wall-in damages.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, about 98% of the total population of Florida lives in one of the coastal counties. As such, hurricanes bring not only wind and weather damage but storm surges and severe flooding. It is important to note that standard homeowners policies typically do not cover flood damage even if that flooding is a result of a hurricane that hits Miami. Flood insurance is covered by the federally managed National Flood Insurance Program, but private flood insurance is becoming increasingly available. 
These different types of home coverage can also provide you with reimbursement for temporary living arrangements if the hurricane damage to your home makes it uninhabitable. For Florida policyholders, insurers are required to pay or deny the claim within 90 days after the insurance carrier receives notice of the initial property insurance claim. 
Commercial Hurricane Insurance
A standard commercial property insurance policy can protect your business assets from hurricane wind and associated damage. This type of policy is designed to cover inventory, electronics, tools, and equipment, as well as the structure of the building in which your company is housed (if your business owns it). In addition to commercial property insurance, optional business interruption coverage can help your business receive a continuation of income if normal business operations are halted due to long-lasting power outages, road closures, or severe damage to the business.
As with home insurance, flood damage is not covered by standard property insurance. As flooding is a costly component to many of Florida’s hurricanes, it is important your business also has commercial flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. This coverage enables Miami businesses to have up to $500,000 in structural coverage and $500,000 in commercial property coverage if your property was damaged by storm surges or flooding. 
Common Insurance Claim Issues
While an insurance company is legally obligated to pay out for hurricane damage according to your policy terms, it is important to remember that the insurance company wrote the policy terms to protect themselves as much as to protect you. Insurance companies are designed to make money by collecting premiums and not paying out claims when a hurricane comes through Miami and destroys homes and businesses. Several common hurricane insurance issues include:
- Liability disputes: Insurance coverage disputes arise when there are several stakeholders involved in a specific property, such as is common with condominiums. In the event of a hurricane, a condo association may make a claim under their property insurance policy for damages. At the same time, unit owners may also make claims under their own property insurance policy for the same event (the hurricane). Often, competing insurance companies will deny coverage under their own policy, claiming that the other insurance entity is responsible for reimbursement. When dealing with the intricacies and nuances of competing insurers, it is best to seek the advice of an experienced hurricane damage attorney to ensure proper coverage and settlement for damages.
- Under the deductible excuse: If damages are not properly documented and submitted, an insurance company may allege that your claim value is under the deductible. While deductibles in Florida are often higher than for other types of claims, the damages to your home or business must be accurately scoped. Do not assume that a deductible can block your payment.
- Short-changed damages: Related to the scope of damages, insurers may undervalue the devastation to your property. Insurance companies will send out their own inspectors, adjusters and lawyers to come up with excuses for not paying your full damages or denying payment all together. Again, consulting a third party or hurricane damage lawyer to explain your options may be the best course of action.
For the many responsible hurricane policy-holding homeowners in Miami the hope is that, after a hurricane comes through, the premium dollars spent paying for insurance coverage will be met with the insurance company’s speedy response and sufficient action. When an insurance company fails to fulfill their obligations, a hurricane damage attorney can help. As a Miami-based practice, Schlachter Law is used to dealing with the special considerations of a high-risk hurricane area, and takes a no-nonsense, tough approach to dealing with insurance companies.
Should I Hire a Hurricane Damage Lawyer?
It is important to consult a hurricane damage lawyer before contacting your insurance provider. Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums and paying out as little as possible in the event of a hurricane claim. Improperly submitting a claim could delay or lead to a denial in coverage.
The hurricane damage team at thehurricanedamage.com in Miami knows that insurance companies are always looking for excuses not to pay out to policyholders. Our attorneys can help you properly understand and comply with the insurance contract and fill out the necessary paperwork. We can also help make sure that your losses and damages are properly and fully documented by hiring expert consultants, appraisers, public adjusters, and engineers, to go to your home or business to assess your losses. We find hidden or non-obvious damage the insurance company will not see or document.
We understand the nuanced insurance paperwork, policy requirements, and deadlines, and will take care of the necessary documentation. We will keep on top of the company to ensure you are paid fairly and quickly, so you can focus on rebuilding what was lost. The lawyers at Schlacter Law and thehurricanedameage.com are always easily reached.
- https://www.thebalance.com/hurricane-damage-insurance-and-claims-coverage-4150506 ↩
- https://www.weather.gov/mfl/hurricaneirma ↩
- https://www.iii.org/article/fact-file-florida-hurricane-insurance ↩
- http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.70131.html ↩
- https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/6a2ad0291e8d6a5452aa891a6c037039/fema_Summary_508C.pdf ↩
- http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_Mode=Display_Statute&URL=Ch0627/Sec0629.htm&StatuteYear=2001 ↩
- https://up.codes/viewer/florida/fl-building-code-2017/chapter/16/structural-design#1616 ↩
How We Handle Cases
- Your attorney will aggressively investigate your case. Schlacter Law will compile all necessary evidence needed to maximize the value of your case. Which includes but is not limited to photographs, police reports, security camera footage, witness statements, medical bills and medical records.
- You will remain in constant contact with Schlacter Law about the progression of your case.
- Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company and will attempt to resolve your case before the case goes to court for maximum compensation.
- Your attorney will make every effort possible to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money you may be entitled to. You will be actively involved in the negotiation process with your attorney. Schlacter Law understands that this is your one opportunity to get justice for your loss.
- If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, Schlacter Law will be fully prepared to bring your case to court to fight for the justice you deserve.
- At no cost to you, Schlacter Law will hire any experts and professionals needed to maximize your recovery and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do after hurricane damage?
If your home or business sustained damage after a hurricane, it is important to cover your damaged property, document all damages, and to file your insurance claim quickly. Taking these three steps may ensure your hurricane damage claim is handled promptly and fairly.
- Cover up your damaged property
If your Miami property sustains any structural damage after a hurricane, cover any holes or compromised structures with a tarp to prevent water intrusion or any further damage. Remember, the insurance company will look for any reason to avoid paying you. A common tactic is to claim your damaged property became more damaged after the storm due to negligence, blaming you and denying your claim.
- Document everything
A complete photographic record is essential for proving losses if you need to file a claim. Make sure to take complete, wide pictures of your house at varying angles, then move in closer to take pictures showing more detail of the damage. As you photograph, keep a detailed written inventory of the damaged property.
- File your insurance claim promptly
Insurance policies typically require you to act fast after storm damage. Work quickly to thoroughly document all damages before contacting an insurance company, and consider consulting a hurricane damage attorney to help maximize your claim.
Are there any hurricane insurance discounts available to homeowners?
Yes. Residential property insurance policies must include reasonable discounts, credits, or appropriate reductions in deductibles for properties constructed to reduce the amount of loss in a windstorm or hurricane. Such fixtures and construction techniques include enhanced roof strength, roof covering performance, roof-to-wall strength, wall-to-floor-to-foundation strength, opening protection, and window, door, and skylight strength.  It is important to update the insurance company with notice of any renovations or additions to your home, as it may affect your policy premiums.
Do Miami businesses have to follow any special guidelines for hurricane prevention?
The state of Florida has adopted strict preventative measures and guidelines for mitigate future hurricane damage to commercial properties, such as strict building codes. Building requirements differ slightly per region, as counties within a geographical higher risk area, such as Miami, are required to abide by stricter building standards.
Florida Building Code’s High Velocity Hurricane Zone requires counties in South Florida to adopt strong hurricane provisions, implemented in response to the extreme regional damage resulting from Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Buildings in Miami-Dade County must be built to withstand minimum wind forces of 146 mph and provide additional protection from wind-borne debris where design speeds are greater than 120 mph or greater than 110 mph if within 1 mile of the coast.
Florida Building Code Chapter 16 sets specific standards for exposure zones and risk categories, with Miami-Dade county imposing the strictest standards for construction. For example, buildings and structures in Risk Category III and IV must be built using structural calculations accounting for wind velocity (3 second gust) of 186 mph. Floor and roof systems must be designed and constructed to transfer horizontal forces to parts of the structural frame to be carried to the foundation, and any attachments shall be capable of resisting applied loads in both vertical and horizontal directions.