Knowing how to determine the value of your hurricane damage claim can help you avoid being undervalued by your insurance company. Sadly, insurance companies are for-profit and will do everything in their power (and more) to exploit their customers like you. They want to pay as little as possible.
The good news is that with some wise thinking, you can avoid their tricks and ensure that you get the maximum possible insurance coverage. If you can prove that their numbers don’t match your valuation, then you can avoid paying out of your own pocket.
How to Value Your Property After Hurricane Damage
Use an Independent Adjuster
The wisest thing to do is to use an independent adjuster, ideally through a Florida property damage lawyer – who will have connections with reputable, trusted adjusters and other resources.
Adjusters are professionals who evaluate damaged property, providing the estimated repair and replacement cost to the insurer.
Insurance companies use their own insurance adjusters. However, be warned; the adjusters working for insurance companies have a tight relationship. They work for them. They often overlook areas of damage or simply underestimate the value of items, so that their insurance company doesn’t need to pay out as much.
So what can you do?
Contact a property damage lawyer. That way you’ll get a second opinion and can prove that “hey, these numbers don’t add up”.
Secondly, be warned of using amateur adjusters who are walking around your neighborhood in the aftermath of a hurricane handing out flyers. They’re on the prowl for cash and are often not qualified or trusted adjusters.
Read Related: 10 Signs That You Need a Hurricane Ian Claims Lawyer
Understand Replacement Cost vs Actual Cash Value
When it comes to determining the value of your hurricane damage claim, you need to understand the two ways insurers value damage. These are called ‘replacement costs‘ and ‘actual cash value‘. Ensure that you read your insurance policy carefully to see what type of coverage you have. If you are still confused, reach out to a Florida property damage lawyer who will help understand it.
Replacement Cost Value Coverage
Replacement Cost Value (RCV), is a type of coverage that will pay to repair or replace damaged property without deducting depreciation.
So, if you have a damaged computer, an RCV policy will replace it at today’s cost of the item.
Actual Cash Value Coverage
Actual Cash Value (ACV) coverage, is a type of coverage that will pay the ‘depreciated cost’ to repair or replace your damaged property.
So, the money required to replace your computer would be decreased by the value of depreciation (such as age, use and wear and tear). You may see ACV also referred to as ‘Depreciated Cash Value.’
Evidence is everything in determining the value of your property after a hurricane.
Evidence is your ticket to prove that something was damaged. An adjuster may arrive and give a quick tour of the property, missing crucial damage areas. But if you have photographic proof, then you can challenge this and use it to negotiate.
It’s highly recommended that you take and safely store all damage since the hurricane. This may include:
- Damaged roofs
- Broken windows
- Flood stains
- Mold caused by flooding
- Water damage
- Broken appliances
- Structural damage
It’s also recommended that you take photos of any damage that has been taken since the hurricane’s initial hit if it was caused by something like a hole in the roof or wall.
Most homeowners’ insurance policies should cover more than just structural repairs. Anything related to the hurricane can potentially be reimbursed. Using these receipts, you can calculate the true value.
For example, after Hurricane Ian, many families were forced to find alternative accommodation due to their damaged homes. It’s not your fault if your insurer is slow to sort out repairs, so please retain invoices and recipes for associated costs.
You should also try to find and collect all evidence of the value of your belongings. Items like laptops, instruments, appliances and belongings’ true value can all be supported with proof of purchase. If the purchase was made online, check the account history of the online store or in your emails for a digital receipt.
Determine the Deductible
A deductible is a cost that must be paid by a policyholder when making a property damage claim. This amount is usually reduced from the amount the insurer will pay out.
For example, if your deductible is $300 and you file an insurance claim for $10,000 worth of property damage, then your insurance company should pay you $9,700.
The deductible will usually be paid by the homeowner, out of pocket, to the repair company.
Florida has an unusual system, where homeowners must only pay one deductible for hurricane damage per hurricane season, instead of per claim or per storm.
In some cases, special items can be difficult to prove the true value of. In these cases, it can be wise to consult an expert on the item.
For example, by having an expert provide a view and estimation of the pre-damaged value of the item then you can have extra power in negotiating with the insurance provider.
It can also be beneficial to check newspaper ads and online auctions for comparable items to review the cost.
What To Do If Your Insurance Company Undervalues You?
If your insurance carrier undervalues you or denies you, don’t give up. You always have a chance to fight back. The best thing to do is to contact our Florida property damage claim attorneys. We will fight aggressively on your behalf, ensuring you’re not bullied and manipulated by an insurance agent and their tricks.
We’ll use our resources to gain a true valuation of your property and negotiate so you get the necessary payment to rebuild your home and life.
Contact a Hurricane Ian Insurance Claim Lawyer Today
If you’ve had an undervalued or denied Hurricane Ian insurance claim, our Florida property damage attorneys can help.
Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.
Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help navigate hurricane insurance disputes.
Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.