Moore About Business: Hiring an attorney is one step to recover insurance for your home or business after Hurricane Ian
As we all know, many Southwest Floridians have filed insurance claims post-Hurricane Ian. Karen Moore recently spoke with attorney Lauren Hussey about her recommended steps to take to ensure you get the fairest amount for your claim.
Hussey is a Naples-based attorney specializing in representing policyholders who sustained damage from Hurricane Ian. As a Naples native and Florida resident for more than 30 years, Hussey has represented thousands of local homeowners, businesses, and condominium associations, winning settlements for clients after Hurricanes Irma in 2016 and Michael in 2018.
Hussey said the first step homeowners should take is to file an insurance claim, even if they believe they might not have damage.
"When it comes to filing a claim, most homeowners have already done so. If they haven't, I suggest they do so immediately, because in your policy it does state that you have a duty to file a claim even if you aren't sure if you have any damage. You still need to have them come out and do an inspection," said Hussey.
"If you're near the coast and you had high winds, the winds went up to like 150 mph, I think in the Fort Myers area, you most likely do have wind damage. There's definitely roof damage. I'm seeing it all the way from South Naples to the Sarasota area actually. So, just because they might not think that they have wind damage or coverage under their homeowner's policy, if they're being told they don't, and that it's all flood, they shouldn't necessarily trust that they still should have that claim filed for the homeowners policy."
Hussey also recommends documenting the entire insurance claim process.
"This should have started right after the storm," said Hussey.
"Take notes, pictures of all the damage. They also, after they filed the claim, need to continue taking notes, writing down which desk adjuster is helping them, if the desk adjuster keeps getting switched on them, how many times they're trying to call the insurance and not getting a response. They need to be very detailed and and create almost like a timeline in case we have to file a week later."
Hussey also addressed the issue of when a homeowner should seek legal advice.
"They should seek legal advice when there's either delay, denial, or underpayment offered by their insurance company. Once it hits that point where they're realizing, 'Oh my gosh, I'm not getting enough money,' or 'I'm not getting any money,' or 'I have no idea what's happening with my claim,' you really should hire an attorney at that time," said Hussey.
"I've had people start calling me the day after hearing Ian hit, which is very unusual. Most of the time people don't retain lawyers after hurricanes until a few months, and once they get the denial letter, the underpayment letter. In this storm it was a different beast. There were so many people that were left homeless and and just that their whole entire house is destroyed and they don't know where to turn and or you can wait and see when that first payment comes in. As an attorney, I work on a contingency fee. We take a contingency fee of anything over what you've already received. So, if you want to wait for that first letter and then hire an attorney, then we can go after more money for you."