TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — For thousands of Hurricane Idalia survivors, it’s a daunting task. First, they have to clean up from the flood; then, they have to get their insurance to pay up.
8 On Your Side’s Mahsa Saeidi has critical tips for storm victims.
Mahsa was in Crystal River 48 hours after Idalia. The hurricane was long gone but the recovery was just beginning.
Amy Messer, and her family, had a heck of a week.
“I’m tired,” said Amy. “People that live on the water, we spend days prepping for the storm to come in.”
They were focused on circulating air after taking in 12 inches of water. The Messers hired a crew to help.
Outside, there was a pile of the stuff they could not salvage. The contents of their home were not insured. But Amy’s husband, John says they did have flood coverage for their main home. Like so many other families, they’re filing a claim for the first time.
“We’re in touch with the insurance company and they’re supposed to be having an adjuster get in touch with us,” said John. “It’s nothing like any other decisions that we’ve made, as far as, well, how much is this going to cost? It’s going to cost what it’s going to cost. It just has to be done.”
Attorney David Murray, Esq. has represented homeowners in lawsuits against insurers for 20 years.
“But most people are focusing on the flood because it came in and you could see the flood,” he said.
Pursuant to new property insurance laws, you have one year to file a claim. Insurance companies have 30 days to inspect the damage and 60 days to approve or deny your claim.
And, if you contact them, within seven days, they must get back to you.
“I think the most significant thing is windstorm damages can sometimes be hidden or not as significant as flood damage,” said Mr. Murray, “Most people when they have a claim, they don’t know what they’re looking at. They don’t know all the building components where water and wind can cause damage, they’re hidden from view.”
“If you’re not going to hire someone to be an advocate for you, then you need to make sure you’re your own best advocate, meaning you properly document all your communications with the insurance company.”
Murray’s biggest tip is to make sure you did not have wind damage. Your homeowners policy covers it. Flood insurance covers flood damage.
If you have a comment or story tip, email Mahsa at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.