We are quickly approaching the three-year mark for Hurricane Irma which made landfall on September 10, 2017. Hurricane Irma may seem like a distant memory, but some homeowners are continue dealing with the aftermath of the storm. Policyholders are still working on repairing their property due to issues obtaining insurance benefits, claim disputes and delayed payments, and continue to find latent damage due to Irma.
Florida Statute Section 627.70132 governs notice of hurricane and windstorm claims. Policyholders must notify their insurers about claims for hurricane-related loss or damages within three years from the date the hurricane made landfall. The statute states:
Notice of windstorm or hurricane claim.—A claim, supplemental claim, or reopened claim under an insurance policy that provides property insurance, as defined in s. 624.604, for loss or damage caused by the peril ofwindstorm or hurricane is barred unless notice of the claim, supplemental claim, or reopened claim was given to the insurer in accordance with the terms of the policy within 3 years after the hurricane first made landfall or the windstorm caused the covered damage. For purposes of this section, the term “supplemental claim” or “reopened claim” means any additional claim for recovery from the insurer for losses from the same hurricane or windstorm which the insurer has previously adjusted pursuant to the initial claim. This section does not affect any applicable limitation on civil actions provided in s. 95.11 for claims, supplemental claims, or reopened claims timely filed under this section.
Since Irma made landfall on September 10, 2017, Florida policyholders have two months left to submit a Hurricane Irma claim. Notice of the claim, supplemental claim, or reopened claim must be provided to the insurance company in accordance with the terms of the policy by September 10, 2020.
Although insurance policies encourage or require homeowners to submit claims as soon as they become aware of the damage, hurricane damages are not always readily apparent in the wake of a storm. Some damages may not be discovered until months, or even years, after an initial insurance claim was filed. Hurricane-related roof damage may be difficult to see if a homeowner does not know what to look for. Further, a wind damaged roof may not start leaking immediately after a hurricane. The leaks may not even start for a year or more after the hurricane and will only be noticeable after a heavy rainstorm exposes the leaks. Additionally, even minor roof damage can result in expensive repairs if there is damage to discontinued roof tile.
With the impending Hurricane Irma claim deadline, policyholders who suffered property damage as a result of Hurricane Irma need to take action to preserve their claim and their rights to bring a potential lawsuit against their insurance company. Policyholders with pending claims should request an evaluation from a professional concerning any hurricane-related damage to make sure the entire loss is reported to the insurer. It is not uncommon for professionals, such as roofing experts and restoration contractors, to identify damages that require funds in addition to what was initially estimated to perform the necessary repairs. Unfortunately, many hurricane claims are underpaid, delayed, or wrongfully denied, leaving homeowners unfairly paying out of pocket to repair damages to their property.
Policyholders need to work quickly and review their Irma claims in order to avoid future denials as a result of the September 10, 2020 deadline.
As always, should you have any questions, need any additional information, or wish to discuss these issues in further detail, please do not hesitate to contact our office.