Understanding The Phases Of A Hurricane Insurance Claim
One of the questions that I am asked the most is how long will it take to resolve my hurricane claim? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. A new claim typically takes 60 days from the date of submission. A supplemental claim typically takes 90-120 days from the date we are hired. Mediation and appraisal claims usually take 4-6 months and litigation claims average 18 months. Thus the process can be lengthy. Now I assume that you are totally lost, so let me explain.
The initial claim is just as it sounds. It is when you first notify your insurance carrier that you would like to make a hurricane claim. Typically a carrier will take 60 to 90 days in settling your claim (fingers crossed).
Historically claim supplements were designed for additional items that were not or could not have been noticed at the time of inspection. A good example of this is that you notice that you need to replace wood sheathing after you tear off your tile roof. There was no way to visually inspect the sheathing until the tiles were removed.
After a hurricane, supplemental claims mean something else. In most cases, a supplement is correcting mistakes that were made by an inexperienced insurance adjuster. For example, an inexperienced carrier adjuster paid to make a small repair to a tile roof, without looking to see if that repair could be made. At the Hurricane Law Group, we often file claim supplements in order to correct these mistakes and in an attempt to resolve claim disputes quickly and easily.
Mediation is an informal way to resolve a claims dispute with your insurance carrier. Mediation is administered by the State of Florida and paid for by your insurance company. In mediation, you get the opportunity to try to settle your dispute with the carrier by sitting across the table from them and explaining your differences.
Mediation is non-binding. Neither you nor your insurance company has to reach an agreement at mediation. However, if you do it is a binding agreement.
Appraisal is very different than mediation. It is a form of binding arbitration and is designed to resolve valuation disputes between you and your carrier. In short, the policyholder names an appraiser and the carrier names and appraiser. If they can agree on an amount of loss, then the claim is settled and the amount will be paid. This closes the claim.
If the appraisers can’t agree on an amount then a neutral third party named an “umpire” will listen to both appraisers and make a determination as to the loss. This amount will be binding.
It is important to note that not all insurance policies require an insurance carrier to go to appraisal. After Hurricane Wilma, many insurance companies found that policyholders (and their public adjusters) were using the appraisal to dramatically increase the amount of money that their claim was paid. In order to avoid this process and having to pay out claims, many carriers removed appraisal from their policy or at a minimum gave them the option to decide if they want to appraise a claim.
At the Hurricane Law Group, our goal is to try to resolve claims without litigation. Unfortunately, carriers do not always want to pay the full and fair value of a claim and policyholders have no option but to file suit. The litigation process can be can be time-consuming, but the good news is that in Florida for almost all of our clients, the insurance carrier will pay your legal fees if we are successful. This means that in most cases, the policyholder does not pay anything in legal fees.
I hope that this helps. Please feel free to email me email@example.com or call me at 1-833-348-7742 should you have any questions or wish to discuss your claim.
Paul Berger, Managing Attorney