TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Now that Hurricane Idalia has passed, it’s time to assess the damage and potentially file an insurance claim.
But what happens if your claim is denied? How do you know what’s covered and what’s not?
Consumer lawyer Charles Gallagher says you should read your policy and consult with a professional if you’re not sure what’s covered. He says insurance companies may end up covering claims they originally deny if you know what you’re arguing for.
He recommends documenting the damage with photos from many angles and keeping receipts for anything you need to immediately repair.
Keep in mind, much of the damage from Hurricane Idalia appears to be flood-related. Only a separate flood policy will cover rising flood water. Even so, Gallagher says consumers should file an insurance claim with their property insurance carrier because some damage may still be covered under that policy.
“Exhibit the property, show them where the damage is, but unless you know for a fact that a flood caused this damage vs. some wind-driven rain into an opening, roof, window … don’t make assumptions,” he said. “If you have wind-driven rain into a hole in the wall or ceiling, that’s going to have coverage under your homeowner’s policy.”
Amy Long in Valrico says she fought for what she believed to be covered under her policy when a tree fell on her home last year during Hurricane Ian. At first, she says the bulk of her claim was denied.
“So the tree fell in the pool and that is where the majority of the damage was,” she recalled. “They didn’t want to cover any of the damage to the pool or to the concrete around it.”
Long says she refused to accept a low-ball offer and she even filed a complaint with the state Office of Insurance Regulation.
Her insurance company ended up paying for all of the repairs.