Pensacola/Panama City Florida Hurricane Claims Lawyers
Hurricanes are among the most destructive forces of nature. The combination of high winds and heavy downpours can cause extensive damage to homes and other property, with the potential to wipe out entire communities in just a matter of hours. Having your home severely damaged or destroyed and losing many of your personal possessions is a devastating event that will often take months to recover from. Unfortunately, some homeowners are victimized twice when their insurance company refuses to cover their claim or only agrees to pay a small portion of what is needed to rebuild. When this occurs, you need a strong advocate by your side who is willing to fight hard for everything you deserve.
At the Law Offices of Whibbs, Stone & Barnett, P.A., we have over 60 years of combined experience serving clients in the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama with hurricane claims and a wide range of other legal matters. We have seen the tactics insurance companies typically use to avoid paying homeowners what they owe in the wake of a hurricane, and we work closely with our clients to aggressively pursue the compensation they need and deserve. Over the years, we have handled claims for several major hurricanes, including Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Dennis in 2005. We have the experience to help you through the process of a hurricane and flood claim, so you can rebuild your home and move forward with your life.
If an insurance company has denied your hurricane claim or given you a lowball settlement offer, Whibbs, Stone & Barnett, P.A can help! We are currently accepting Hurricane Sally claims that affected the greater Panama City, Florida and greater Bay County areas. Call our office today at 850-500-1111 to get started.
Categories of Hurricanes
Each year, several tropical storms take aim at the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard. Many become hurricanes before making landfall; and when they hit, they tear off roofs, destroy homes, bring down trees and power lines, and destroy billboards, traffic lights, and other road signs. The overall damage can sometimes total billions of dollars.
Hurricanes are categorized based on wind speed to measure their level of severity:
Category 1: The lowest category of hurricane, a Category 1 is characterized by wind gusts exceeding 74 miles per hour, with the potential to damage shingles, siding and gutters, tear off tree branches, and knock down trees that are shallowly rooted.
Category 2: A Category 2 hurricane is characterized by wind gusts exceeding 96 miles per hour. This type of storm can cause more extensive roof and siding damage, destroy trees, and bring down power lines.
Category 3: Category 3 hurricanes have wind gusts that exceed 111 miles per hour. Storms in this category can cause even further damage to homes, uproot more deeply rooted trees, bring down more power lines, and cause mass power outages in communities that are hit.
Category 4: If the wind gusts exceed 131 miles per hour, the storm is upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane. At this speed, roofs can be torn off from the top of homes and there can be extensive damage to interior walls and the rest of the interior. And as with a Category 3, more trees and power lines are downed, and the widespread damage can make it far more difficult for utility workers to restore power.
Category 5: The most severe type of hurricane, a Category 5 is characterized by wind gusts exceeding 155 miles per hour. It is rare for a Category 5 to make landfall, and it has only happened a handful of times in U.S. history. When it does, however, it can destroy entire communities, like what happened when Hurricane Andrew hit the Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana back in 1992.
What to do After a Hurricane
Though homeowners are forewarned ahead of time, hurricanes still often cause damage to houses and property in communities where they hit. If your home has been affected by a hurricane, there are some steps you should take after the storm is over:
- Cover your damaged property with tarp or something similar to prevent further damage from occurring;
- Take multiple photographs of your dwelling, personal items, and the rest of your property to show everything that was damaged in the storm;
- Take a written inventory of all the property that was damaged to accompany your photographs;
- File a claim with your insurer as soon as possible.
Homeowner insurance policies vary on what exactly is covered. In Florida, a standard policy will cover wind damage, but if the damage is caused by a hurricane, there is a certain deductible that is based on a predetermined percentage of the policy. Flooding is a whole other matter. Flood insurance is not part of a homeowner policy and must be purchased separately through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Common Insurance Company Tactics
Insurers are known for using various tactics to deny a claim or pay out far less than they are obligated to. One common argument an adjuster might make is that water damage to the interior of the home was due to flooding, when in actuality it was because of broken windows caused by the high winds, allowing the water from heavy rain to enter the home. There are several other tactics an insurance company might use to frustrate homeowners and avoid paying what they should. These include:
- Unreasonably delaying the processing of a claim;
- Making false or misleading statements about what your homeowner policy covers;
- Denying that coverage even exists in your policy;
- Offering a severely undervalued damage estimate;
- Requiring you to sign a written release of supplemental claims as a condition of settlement;
- Advising you that you do not need legal representation to settle your claim.
Speak with a Seasoned Florida Hurricane Claims Attorney
If you run into any of these or other problems with insurance companies after a major storm, it can be very difficult to settle the claim satisfactorily on your own. Insurance adjusters are professionals who are looking out for the interests of the company they represent, and if they are not willing to pay what they should, you need someone in your corner advocating aggressively for your rights and interests.
At the Law Offices of Whibbs, Stone & Barnett, P.A., we have stood up for the homeowners in the Florida Panhandle and southern Alabama for many years. We know the common tactics insurance carriers use, and we know what it takes to ensure that they pay out the full amount you are entitled to after a hurricane. If your home was recently damaged by a major storm, contact our office today at 850-500-1111 for immediate assistance. You may also send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.