FEMA benefits: Be sure to visit www.fema.gov
Hurricane damage to your property raises several legal issues. They include:
- Is the physical loss insured under your property insurance?
- Are you, the insured, required to take steps to minimize increases in the loss which may simply result from inaction or the passage of time?
- What is the most cost effective way to advance a claim to your insurance company?
- What is the most cost effective way to develop a claim and achieve restoration under the controls necessary to accomplish the remediation work:
- on time;
- within budget; and
- at the appropriate quality
Property Insurance Coverage Ingredients
Policies differ. Your policy must be evaluated for coverage. While there are exceptions, most insurance policies do not provide insurance coverage for floods, flooding, stream overflow, surface water, tidal water, waves, or water spraying resulting from natural or man made causes.
However, policies often cover wind damage even where there is simultaneous water damage. The resolution of claims under your policy requires careful analysis of all facts.
In addition, careful attention must be paid to the development of your insured claim to assure getting no less than what is fairly compensable. This objective brings together several challenges requiring sophisticated documentation, negotiation, or even a lawsuit when absolutely necessary. These challenges include a plan for who will undertake the responsibility for the performance of the remediation work.
Public adjusters: When & When Not
Public adjusters, who commonly work on a straight contingency percentage of a claim paid by an insurance carrier, are often at the door before the water and the dust have settled on a loss. A public adjuster can be helpful only where coverage is not denied, and the loss includes, in addition to structural damage, abundant claims for numerous small personal items, household furniture, fixtures, and possessions
Clearly, in situations where the coverage is flatly denied, or grossly undervalued by the insurance carrier, the public adjuster is helpless. There is no substitute for an experienced attorney in these circumstances.
UNINSURED LOSS: USE OF FEMA SOURCED FUNDS
Where a loss is uninsured, or an insurance claim produces a lump sum intended to cover the cost to the owner of construction remediation, the oversight of an experienced attorney is absolutely essential to assure that:
1. The construction claim and budget is reasonable; and
2. The work is performed within budget, on time, and at the required quality.
An experienced attorney will bring together and manage your team of essential construction talent. Within the contractual legal structure created by your attorney, they will have the experience, loyalty, and contract duty to you to accomplish appropriate design, reasonable market controls on pricing, minimization of unforeseen expenses, as well as quality assurance & control.
The prescription for your safety in the emotionally stressful circumstances, where the medicine is outside of your day to day lives is experienced legal management. The cost of this professional legal service is a modest investment for the avoidance of the risks, frustration, and loss which is common in these threatening circumstances.
I.Michael Heine, Esq.