There are many elements to consider when determining the exact amount that you should be compensated for your hurricane damage. Here are just a few examples of different ways your insurance carrier is getting away with not fully compensating you:
Multiple Deductibles: The insurance companies are applying multiple deductibles for a single claim. They cannot do so unless the house was damaged by multiple hurricanes. However, if the damage is in fact severe, it will help the claim because multiple policy limits may apply.
- Scare Tactic of Policy Cancellation: The policy cannot be cancelled by virtue of presenting a claim or retaining a lawyer. Hurricanes, just like earthquakes, are natural disasters and are not based on the behavior or maintenance of the property by a particular owner.
- Estimating Program: The estimating program used by the insurance industry, “Integraclaim”, fails to address the sudden increase of material and labor costs due to a regional or national catastrophe. For example, the “Integraclaim” program allows approximately $180 per square (10ft. by 10ft.area) for replacement of the basic composition shingle roofing. Current local rates are in excess of $400 per square. The insured is entitled to have the damage restored based on prevailing market rate.
- Loss of Power: If the insured lost power, they are entitled to compensation for loss of food in the refrigerator as well as the cost of an electrician to survey the wiring in the house.
- Carpeting: Typically, insurance companies shortchange the insured in 3 ways:
- The insurance company will first convince the insured that the carpet can be cleaned. However, once there is water penetration or glass breakage, the insurance company has a duty to compensate for the replacement of the carpet.
- The insurance company will typically avoid paying for the extra waste of the carpet. For example, if a room is 15ft. x 10 ft., the carpet roll comes at 12 ft. wide. Therefore, there will be a waste of 2 ft. all along the 10 ft. side, and more waste on the 15 ft. side. Therefore, if the insured is compensated based on yardage of 15ft. x 10 ft., the insured cannot afford replacing the carpet.
- The insurance company will also avoid paying for the padding under the carpet. There is absolute duty to replace the pad. Over time the carpet will stick to the pad and also humidity will damage the pad.
- Asbestos: Any structure built prior to 1978, will most likely have asbestos in the plaster, acoustic/popcorn ceiling, air ducts, etc. If there is damage to the inside walls, the company has a duty to test for the asbestos and to compensate the insured for the abatement of the asbestos. On an average claim, this issue costs the insurance company several thousand dollars.
- Mold: This is where the insurance companies are routinely denying tests and payment. We will initiate all required testing with no up front out of pocket costs to the insured. Once there is mold, a claim will be presented for the remediation of the mold and the repair of the affected areas. In addition, if mold is discovered, all of the contents in the house have to be cleaned or replaced (for all soft goods such as clothing, linens, etc.)Painting: In order to paint the inside or outside of the house, a lot of preparatory work needs to be done. For example, moving furniture, detaching and resetting light fixtures, window coverings, electrical outlets, etc. On a typical home, this issue will cost the insurance company several thousand dollars.
- Repair of walls/Insulation: If the walls are damaged by water intrusion, typically the insurance adjuster fails to pay for replacement of moldings (crown or base) and the insulation.
- Landscaping: The insurance company is also responsible to compensate the insured for damage to landscaping including trees, lawns, etc. The adjuster rarely informs the insured of such rights.
- Additional Living Expenses (ALE): Aside from the time that the insured had to evacuate during the hurricane, the policy also covers additional living expenses for the time it will take to repair the house. As an element of the ALE, the insured is also entitled to cost of gasoline for extra driving, cost of additional food, laundry, etc.
- Dumpster/Labor Costs: The insured is entitled to compensation for their labor to clean up yard debris from the hurricanes as well as making their own repairs. In addition, they are entitled to dumpster costs based on the extent of damage.