With any storm, be prepared to make an insurance claim if necessary
(Editor’s note: The following Real Estate Law column was written prior to Hurricane Ian and set to be published on Sept. 28.)
Dear Mr. Feichthaler,
I am sure your attention is on Hurricane Ian, and so my question relates to insurance. My policy is scheduled to lapse in a week, and I have been unable to contact anyone who will help me bind a new policy. If this storm causes damage and I am unable to report it prior to the expiration, will I be covered?
— Gary R.
My thoughts are with everyone in the city as the storm approaches. My office sits at one of the lowest elevations in the city, and storm surge appears to be the biggest threat, with wind being a close second. Most of us have two types of policies – homeowners insurance and flood insurance. For homeowners claims, Florida Statutes provide three years from the date the storm first makes landfall, so you will not need to worry about filing a claim immediately thereafter. However, as with any insurance claim, you should gather the needed information and file as quickly as possible. There could be a substantial number of claims, and it doesn’t hurt to be towards the front of the line. In preparation of the storm, hopefully you have taken “before” photos inside and outside the house, so you can help to prove damages. Keep in mind, your general homeowners insurance will not cover flood damage from hurricanes.
The other type of insurance is flood insurance, which specifically covers water from flooding entering your home. Most flood policies are different in filing a claim, as it must be done within 60 days of the flood loss. Good news for those that may have let their flood insurance coverage – most policies have a 30 day grace period after expiration. If you are in this situation be very sure to pay the renewal premium within that 30 days.
As with any potentially major economic loss, seek the advice of an insurance professional to confirm your policies are in place, and cover what you expect. In the meantime, having been through a few storms here myself, I hope our readers will take the time to check on neighbors that may need assistance. I realize that, for many readers, this is their first experience with a hurricane. It is good to have a healthy respect for nature, but it is important this storm be put into perspective. Almost all homes in our area have been built after stronger codes were enacted after Hurricane Andrew. Please avoid “sightseeing” around town immediately after the storm, as downed trees and power lines will likely be a much larger threat to you than the storm itself.
Take care, and by the time you are reading this, hopefully the storm has already passed and caused minimal damage.
Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 35 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Museum of History, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 20 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 239-542-4733.
This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.