If your home sustained significant damage from Hurricane Laura, Hurricane Sally, Tropical Storm Beta, or another significant Gulf Coast weather event, you are likely to face a series of daunting challenges.
Getting your home repaired or replaced after it sustains catastrophic damage is a complex process. After a far-reaching natural disaster like a hurricane or tropical storm—where many other residents and communities are facing challenges similar to yours—the process can become even more frustrating and time-consuming.
One of the first steps in the process is getting cost estimates for the work.
Before you hire a contractor after a Gulf Coast storm, contact the hurricane insurance attorneys from the MIC Firm.
What Happens If Your House Is Destroyed by a Hurricane?
If you had your house damaged or destroyed by a hurricane, the emotional and economic toll can feel truly overwhelming. Determining the next steps can be difficult when your home and your community is surrounded by devastation.
Start by having any water damage remediated and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent any further damage. This could involve boarding up broken windows and doors, tarping the roof, or getting temporary roofing installed. Take photos of everything you can, both inside the home and outside, as these will be invaluable for documenting your insurance claim.
If you can locate your homeowners insurance policy documents, you can verify what coverages you have. Contacting the insurance company will initiate the claims process, after which the insurer should send out an adjuster to assess the damage. At that point, you can start soliciting estimates from qualified contractors to handle the repairs to your home or, in the case of a total loss, to rebuild the structure. You should request detailed estimates from at least three contractors. If your home requires work from multiple trades, consider using a general contractor to coordinate the project rather than attempting to contract individually with a painter, a drywall contractor, a roofer, etc. Consider also consulting an attorney to assist with this process. This can help ensure that your repairs are completed on time and on budget and that the contractor you select is truly qualified to perform the work.
How Long Does It Take to Rebuild a House After a Hurricane?
The time necessary to repair or rebuild your home after a hurricane depends in part on the size and design of your home as well as the different types of building materials being used. You should expect the process to take longer than if might under different circumstances, however. After a significant event such as a hurricane, tropical storm, tornado, etc., many other homeowners will need repairs or replacement. This increases the demand for materials, labor, and other resources. This same increase in demand can also raise the cost of your repairs or rebuilding project.
Most contractors will provide an estimate of the time necessary to complete the work along with their cost estimate. You can request that a builder be held to a predetermined schedule by including that requirement in your contract. Talk to an experienced attorney to ensure that you are protected should the contractor fail to perform as promised.
Will My Homeowners Insurance Cover the Costs to Repair My Home?
Hurricane- and tropical-storm-related damages are typically covered by most homeowners insurance policies. Although flood damage may not be covered by your policy (or may be covered under a separate policy), your homeowners insurance should cover all damage caused by wind and wind-driven rain. The amount that your policy will cover depends on the type of policy you have and your coverage limits.
If you have insurance that covers the replacement value of your losses, the policy should cover all of the repair or replacement costs. If you have an actual cash value policy, the insurer will likely depreciate anything that can be depreciated. In that case, your insurance might not cover the full cost of your home repairs. When negotiating a claim, insurance companies often attempt to depreciate specific types of building materials. Although some parts of your home may truly be subject to depreciation–such as vinyl siding, paint, and roofing materials—many others should not be.
Insurance companies often refuse to pay items that are necessary to rebuild and restore your home. One such item is a contractor’s profit and overhead. Obviously, a contractor cannot perform the work for free, or lose money rebuilding your home. However, many insurers will claim that it does not cover profit and overhead. This is not only untrue, it is a misrepresentation. Insurance companies are obligated to pay profit and overhead since it is a necessary cost to rebuild a home.
You will likely have to pay the stated deductible out of pocket before your coverage kicks in. Most insurers impose a different deductible amount for hurricane-related damage than for other covered losses. For example, your standard deductible might be $1,000 or $2,500, but in the case of a hurricane or tropical storm, that amount typically increases to somewhere between 1% and 5% of the total insured value of the property.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Assist You with Your Hurricane Damage Claim?
If your property was not significantly damaged, or if you were not displaced as a result, you might be able to successfully negotiate your insurance claim and the contractor’s repair pricing. However, having an experienced property damage attorney to assist you can provide significant benefit.
An experienced property insurance claim lawyer understands the intricacies of these processes and how to get the best possible results for you. Your insurance company may be less likely to deny, delay, or devalue your claim if they know you have an attorney onboard. Likewise, contractors may be less likely to try to take advantage of you under the watchful eye of your attorney and legal team. Your attorney can also perform due diligence on any prospective contractors to ensure they have the proper licensure and financial stability.
The MIC Firm provides comprehensive legal services to clients throughout the Gulf Coast region, including Louisiana, Florida, and Texas. Our experienced hurricane insurance attorneys will fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your damages, so you can get back into your home as quickly as possible.
Call or contact us now for help from one of our experienced Gulf Coast property damage lawyers.