Hurricane Irma caused significant destruction to South Florida. While strategic preparation and many hardworking volunteers helped evacuate residents and reduce storm-related fatalities, there was nothing to be done about the property damage left behind in Irma's wake. Now, Florida residents are left to the painful task of rebuilding their lives. Florida residents deserve fair insurance compensation. An experienced attorney can help secure fair claims settlements so that the work of hurricane rebuilding can begin.
Estimates of Irma's Damage
It is difficult to find an accurate metric by which to measure the losses caused by Irma. Fortune places the estimate between $50 and $100 billion. These estimates for property and vehicle losses do not account for lost wages, decreased productivity, and other economic losses caused by the storm. Fortune also estimates that between 200,000 and 400,000 vehicles were lost to Hurricane Irma. Floridians might consider themselves lucky - our neighbors in Texas lost 300,000 to 500,000 vehicles in Hurricane Harvey and its subsequent flooding. The cost of these vehicles is estimated at $2.7 to $4.9 billion. This estimate does not include new, unregistered vehicles which were damaged at car dealership lots. Both Irma and Harvey have each destroyed more vehicles than either Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Drivers all across the country - not just in Texas and Florida - will see their insurance rates increase in coming years in order to cover the staggering cost of these losses.
Settling Claims with Insurance Companies
There are many different insurers who are contractually obligated to pay claims in the wake of Hurricane Irma. As discussed, auto insurers are dealing with a staggering amount of payouts, but that is just one form of insurance. Homeowners are also filing claims in record numbers. Renter's insurance policies and umbrella insurance policies may also cover hurricane losses, depending upon the parameters of the specific policy. And finally, some families are faced with the difficult task of filing a life insurance claim. All of these types of claims have been filed in staggering proportions. The Orlando Sentinel reports that 562,262 claims - totaling an estimated $3.6 billion - had been filed as of September 23rd.
If you have filed any type of insurance claim as a result of hurricane-related losses, it is important to know your legal and contractual rights. You are not obligated to accept the first settlement offer made to you. Some valuations are easy. Common vehicle, for example, may have a value which is readily determined by the Kelley Blue Book. Classic, unique or refurbished vehicles may be more difficult to value. A large claim for the total destruction of a home will be a complex combination of many separate components. Each one of these must be assigned a fair value, and this process can be both time-consuming and difficult - not to mention frustrating.
If you are having any difficulty receiving a fair insurance settlement from your homeowner's or umbrella insurance policy carrier, consult with an experienced insurance company personal injury attorney as soon as possible. You have the legal right to be compensated for hurricane losses.