Articles Posted in Hurricane Claims

Hurricane Ida has left Louisiana and the Gulf Coast without power, roads blocked, and no running water or sewage for what could be days to weeks. Many are still unable to return to their homes and wondering what could be next for them. Hurricane Larry is next in line and the East Coast is expected to see severe swells. Our Hernando County Hurricane Lawyers at Whittel & Melton encourage everyone to keep up with weather alerts and have plan ready in case of an emergency.

At the start of every hurricane season in June the National Weather Service names the hurricanes for the season alphabetically. The letter “I,” is the ninth letter of the alphabet so that means Ida was the ninth storm of the season, and “L” is up next with Hurricane Larry. Just like Hurricane Ida, Hurricane Larry is anticipated to bring major damage. Hurricane Larry will be the third major hurricane that is a Category 3 or higher, following Hurricane Grace and of course, Hurricane Ida. Just like Ida, Larry is growing more intense rather quickly, gaining 35 mph in wind speed in 24 hours or less. It is expected that Larry will brush Canada by the weekend and bring disturbances later in the week to

northern Florida and southern Georgia. Hurricane Ida quickly went from a Category 1 Hurricane to a Category 4 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which does not leave people with enough time to properly protect themselves from a storm that increased from 85 mph to 150 mph in less than 24 hours.

2020 is one of the most active storm seasons ever in the waters around the State of Florida, the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.

STORM DEDUCTIBLE CONFUSION?!

Florida Property insurance policies typically have two deductibles. A standard deductible for most losses; and a hurricane deductible. The standard “Other Perils” deductible is for pretty much anything covered by the policy, such as fire, pipe bursts and appliance related water damage claims, or windstorms, etc. The hurricane deductible only applies to named Hurricanes. The last major hurricane to hit Florida was Hurricane Michael in the panhandle on October 10, 2018; and more recently in the western portions of the Florida panhandle for Hurricane Sally on September 16, 2020, and Hurricane Zeta on October 28, 2020. Hurricane deductibles are typically 2 or 3 percent of the limit of the insurance for the home which is a lot higher than the standard deductible for all other claims. The Eta storm of November 2020 started off in South Florida counties like Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County as a Tropical Storm (not a hurricane). But as storms in Florida do, things changed, and the weather system chased west back into the Gulf of Mexico where it was reclassified as a Hurricane for a short period of time before heading back to the Nature Coast across Florida again as a Tropical Storm.

key-west-81664_1920-1-300x199DON’T GET FOOLED BY YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY!

First, an insurer may rush to slap a hurricane deductible on your claim when it should not apply because a Tropical Storm is not a hurricane. Second (and this is really the most important!), Insurers in Florida have often told their customers after a storm that unless they absolutely know that their damage is more than their hurricane deductible, then they should not even put in a claim. There are many reasons why this is terrible advice and a bad business practice by insurance companies. As the policyholder, it is not your job to know the exact amount of damage you have in the weeks following a severe storm. You also may discover that the storm caused much more damage than you initially thought or could see in the days following the hurricane. Many Floridians have fallen for the insurers gambit only to attempt to make their claims later on and be told its too late to make the claim.

If you believe you have Hurricane or Tropical Storm damage from any of these strong weather systems that brought havoc to Florida, please call us and we can assist you in determining which deductible applies, assist you with determining the actual extent of the damage to your home, and provide needed guidance through the process with your insurance company.

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Have you started preparing for the arrival of Tropical Storm (or perhaps Hurricane) Dorian? Our Hernando County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want you and your loved ones to take all the necessary precautions to be ready for the storm. We have compiled a list of tips to keep you from scrambling at the last minute and minimize any potential damages that you could incur. We urge you to familiarize yourself with these pointers and protect yourself and your loved ones if the storm hits near you.

Have An Evacuation Plan

Evacuation will be necessary if Dorian is headed for Hernando County and you reside in a mobile home. Instructions will be provided by local authorities if problems arise. It is best to have a plan in place should you have to leave quickly. Locate your nearest shelters and get a plan on how to get there safely.

Don’t forget your furry family members. Not all shelters allow pets, so have an evacuation plan ready for them as well.

Stock Up on Supplies

As soon as a tropical storm warning is issued, people dash out to buy their essential supplies. When you are in a time crunch, this can be quite frustrating. We urge you to not wait until the last minute. Make a list and have these things in stock during hurricane season. You and your family will be glad you have done this.

  • Batteries
  • Lamps with candles and fuel
  • A water-tight container filled with matches
  • Prescribed medications for you and your loved ones
  • 3 days’ worth of drinking water – at least 5 gallons of water per person
  • Clean water containers
  • Tools and materials for emergency home repair
  • Chlorine bleach or iodine tablets
  • Nonperishable food/meals
  • A first aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Weather radio (NOAA)
  • Flashlight
  • Pet food
  • Enough baby formula or food
  • Extra blankets/sleeping bags
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Diapers and baby wipes

Inventory Your Belongings

List the things you own ahead of time, so that in the event of a disaster, insurance claims can be expedited. Your personal inventory should serve as a guide should you have any losses. Once you have prepared these documents, place them in an important documents folder and lock it away in a safe or filing cabinet that you can access later.

Review Your Insurance Policies

We strongly encourage you to review your insurance policies every few months, and have them professionally reviewed so that you can avoid any potential disputes. Your home insurance policy should cover the cost of repairs caused by tropical storm damage, required living expenses, etc. It does not cover flood damage, however. You will need to purchase separate coverage for flood insurance.

Protect Your Home from Storm Damage

You will want to do everything you can to make sure your home is prepared for a tropical storm. Before Dorian hits, we recommend doing the following:

  • Get rid of weak trees and excess branches to keep your roof safe.
  • Storm shutters should be installed to prevent window breakage.
  • Deadbolt door locks and hinges should be installed to protect exterior doors.
  • Sliding doors can be covered with shutters or plywood.
  • Use a garage brace or lock if you have one or consider replacing old garage doors.
  • Seal outdoor electrical outlets, other wall openings and vents.
  • Bring any outdoor furniture inside and clear the yard of other objects that may become airborne.

Call Us For Help

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Last year 14 elderly people died due to overheated conditions in a Hollywood, Florida nursing home after the air conditioning failed during hurricane Irma.

Acting quickly to avoid a similar tragedy, Governor Rick Scott signed an Emergency Rule, that mandated that nursing homes and assisted living facilities (ALFs) have generators installed for the purpose of running climate control systems that will maintain temperatures below 80 degrees during a power outage by June 1 – the official start of hurricane season.

Many Hernando County ALFs have not had enough time to implement these new requirements.

Failure to comply with the emergency rules will result in penalties including fines up to $1,000 per day and the possible revocation of a facility’s license.

As of June 15, 524 nursing homes and 1,027 ALFS filed extensions to complete these requirements.

Obtaining an extension means that the facilities are still in compliance with the law, despite not having the backup power fully in place or not inspected.

Facilities that have filed extensions must have plans that include:

  • Bringing a temporary generator onsite during power outages
  • Contracting for priority fuel replenishment during a power outage
  • Moving residents to common areas that can be cooled with an existing generator
  • Evacuation if needed

For the entire state of Florida, AHCA data shows 100 percent compliance among all 684 statewide nursing homes. And 1,722 out of the state’s 3,097 ALFs have met the mandate’s requirements, for a 55.60 percent compliance rate.

Nursing home and ALF residents are at high risk during natural disasters, so it is important that our laws protect them rather than hurt them. Nursing home and ALF regulations are enacted for very good reasons, but the sad truth is that they are often neglected. A disregard for residents and neglect of the rules and regulations can often times lead to a nursing home abuse lawsuit.

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One dog was killed and another dog was critically injured on Wednesday from the improper use of a generator inside a Hernando County home.

Hernando County Fire Rescue was called out to the home around 10:56 a.m. Wednesday due to a portable generator possibly being run inside a home.

Fire crews forced entry into the home and found a generator running inside the garage with the garage door closed.

They found two dogs inside the home, but no one else. The dogs were evacuated from the garage, officials said, and one was killed, more than likely from carbon monoxide fumes, fire rescue said.

The other dog was still alive but required aggressive treatment by fire/rescue personnel.

This tragedy reminds us that generator usage is deadly if not used appropriately.

Hernando County Fire Rescue has had two significant emergencies related to improper generator use during Hurricane Irma. A home was destroyed by a generator catching fire on Monday, Sept. 11.

HCFR urges residents to follow manufacturer recommendations in the proper usage and placement of portable generators.

When there are power outages, many people turn to portable generators without fully knowing the risks. As generators have become more popular to have on hand, the number of  carbon monoxide (CO) deaths have spiked. The following generator safety tips can keep you and your loved ones safe during an emergency situation:

  • Generators should be used in well ventilated locations outside at least 5 feet away from all doors, windows, and vent openings.
  • Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
  • Place generators in a place where exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building. The exhaust must be directed away from the building.
  • Make sure to install CO alarms in your home. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for correct placement and mounting height.
  • Turn off generators and let them cool down before refueling. Never refuel a generator while it is hot.
  • Store fuel for the generator in a container that is intended for the purpose and is correctly labeled as such. Store the containers outside of living areas.

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With Hurricane Irma looming over Florida, now is the time to review your insurance policies and be prepared for what to do if your home or business suffers devastation this week.

You purchase insurance coverage to protect against hurricane damage, flood damage or other kinds of damage to your home, and you expect your insurance company to honor your claim in the event that your home or business is damaged. Sadly, insurers will use many strategies to avoid paying out policyholders for their legitimate insurance claims.

Our Hernando County Hurricane Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are here to help homeowners and businesses understand the hurricane claims process in Spring Hill, Hernando Beach and other areas located on the Gulf Coast. We have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies operating in bad faith, so we fully understand the law governing insurance policies and practices. Our goal is to obtain favorable results on behalf of our clients.

We have seen the damage, devastation and disruptions that hurricanes and storms can cause. We are prepared to take your case all the way to trial should that be what it takes to recover just compensation on your behalf.

We have assisted homeowners and businesses with all of the following hurricane claims disputes:

  • Structural foundation claims
  • Water damage and mold claims
  • Hurricane insurance disputes
  • Tropical storm claims
  • Underpayment or “lowball” settlements by insurance companies

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