Hurricane Matthew has passed Florida and is making its way up towards Georgia and South Carolina. For the better part of the storm, which was deescalated to a Category 3 for some of its lifespan, the eye of the hurricane ran parallel to the Atlantic coastline. Despite it not making landfall, the damage it caused was extensive as storm surges pushed floodwater inland and strong winds tore across vast regions of Florida, including Miami-Dade County.
If you had to evacuate your property due to Hurricane Matthew's approach, listen to emergency radio broadcasts or speak to the authorities directly to determine if it is safe for you to return home. If it is not, stay put until it is safe to do so. Never enter an evacuation zone before it is deemed safe by government agencies. If it is safe, you should start thinking about how you can inspect your property for damage and how to file your hurricane damage claim with your insurance provider.
Steps to Take When Filing a Hurricane Matthew Damage Claim
- Exercise caution: As stated in a previous blog entry from Mena Law Firm, please be careful as you return to your home. Floodwaters may block roadways; never attempt to cross floodwater, even if it appears to only be a few inches deep. You must also stay on alert for downed powerlines and steer well clear of any water or puddles near them.
- Shut off: If you notice damage to your home or property when you arrive, you may need to shut off utilities manually, if it is safe to do so. Leaking gas mains in particular can be extremely dangerous and are safer shut down. If you have any reason to believe it is unsafe to be on your property, or if you do not know how to shut off utilities yourself, steer clear of the area and call the authorities for emergency assistance. It may be some time before a response crew can be sent to you.
- Search: Make a quick search of the area and ensure that no one needs help. Ideally, everyone evacuated but you never know if a random person or pet got stuck and requires assistance. Call the authorities and alert them that emergency responders are needed at your location. Only attempt to help if it does not put yourself or the trapped individual in danger.
- Photograph: Now that the danger has hopefully subsided, you can begin to photograph your property. Make a thorough catalogue of images that use multiple angles to create a clear, complete image of what happened. You need to photograph your home, your automobile, adjacent structures, the scene around you for perspective, and so on.
- Compare: If you have a photo album of what your property looked like before Hurricane Matthew came through the area, compare your new photographs to it. This makes it easy to see the before-after comparison and the worst damage. If you see an angle in a picture you did not recreate, go to that location and do so now.
Final Step: Call an Attorney
Many insurance companies are notorious for doing as little as they can after a natural disaster the size of Hurricane Matthew. Knowing that they will have a huge influx of claims stemming from wind and water damage, some homeowners' insurance providers may use insurance bad faith tactics to try to save themselves money. This could include denying claims without reason, delaying the payment of coverage, offering lowballed amounts in hopes you accept it out of desperation, or not even bothering to inspect your property.
To avoid getting into a confrontation with them that you might not win, bolster your chances of success by teaming up with Mena Law Firm. Our Miami hurricane insurance claim attorneys have 15+ years of collective legal experience and our lead attorney, Mr. Luis Mena, is AV Preeminent® Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®. Call 866.224.9189 today to set up your free case evaluation with a compassionate and knowledgeable team.