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Our Fort Lauderdale Flood Damage Lawyer Represents  Homeowners and Business Owners

Living on Florida’s Atlantic coast, the risk of your home or business sustaining flood damage as the result of a storm is a very real concern. Hurricanes and tropical storms threaten homes and businesses in Fort Lauderdale every year, and major storms often cause widespread damage. If your home or business has sustained flood damage, the recovery process will involve filing a claim under your flood insurance policy; unfortunately, this is rarely as simple and straightforward as it should be. Consulting with a flood damage lawyer is often your only way to recover.

At Maus Law Firm, we represent homeowners and business owners in flood damage insurance claims. We can help you file your claim if your home or business has just been damaged; and, if you are struggling to secure coverage (or if your claim has been denied), we can deal with your insurance carrier on your behalf. We handle flood and other property insurance claims on behalf of South Florida homeowners and business owners following hurricanes and other major storms and, if you have a claim, a Fort Lauderdale flood damage lawyer can use their experience to enforce the terms of your flood insurance policy.

Flood damage to neighborhood.

At Maus Law Firm, we represent homeowners and business owners in flood damage insurance claims. We can help you file your claim if your home or business has just been damaged; and, if you are struggling to secure coverage (or if your claim has been denied), we can deal with your insurance carrier on your behalf. We handle flood and other property insurance claims on behalf of South Florida homeowners and business owners following hurricanes and other major storms and, if you have a claim, a Fort Lauderdale flood damage lawyer can use their experience to enforce the terms of your flood insurance policy.

Understanding Your Florida Flood Insurance Claim

In Florida, standard homeowners’ insurance and commercial property insurance policies do not provide coverage for flood damage. As a result in order to obtain flood coverage you must purchase a separate policy. 

Until 2014, purchasing flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was the only option for Florida homeowners. But, a change in the law opened up flood insurance to the private market, and today Floridians have the option to shop for flood insurance coverage if they so choose. While this allows for rate shopping, it also means that filing a flood damage claim presents many of the same challenges as other types of other property damage claims.

As a result, homeowners and business owners often struggle to secure flood insurance coverage from their insurers. Some examples of common issues include: 

  • The insurance company fails to conduct a timely investigation, resulting in additional loss and unnecessary delays  
  • The insurance company wrongfully denies coverage on the basis that the damage resulted from wind and rain rather than flooding
  • The insurance company fails to process individual claims in a timely manner as a result of being inundated with flood damage claims following a hurricane or other major storm
  • The insurance company refuses to fully pay a flood damage claim despite all necessary evidence being available to prove the policyholder’s right to coverage
  • The insurance company misrepresents the terms of coverage, ignores facts, accuses the policyholder of failing to mitigate the damage caused, or engages in other bad-faith practices

Regardless of the specific issue at hand, if you are struggling to obtain flood damage coverage, an experienced flood damage attorney can help. 

Flood Damage Insurance Coverage in Fort Lauderdale

Appliance Floods

Flood insurance policies typically cover appliances. If your refrigerator, stove, washer and dryer, or other major appliances were damaged by floodwater, you should be able to secure coverage to get them repaired (if possible) or replaced under your flood insurance policy. If you are struggling to obtain coverage, you should promptly discuss your claim with a Fort Lauderdale flood damage lawyer.

Furniture and Personal Items

Flood insurance policies also typically cover furniture and other personal items. There are some exceptions (for example, if your house has a basement, any items stored in the basement might not be covered), but generally speaking, you can seek coverage for any items of personal property that suffered water damage in a flood.

Hardwood Floors and Carpet

Aside from structural issues, one of the biggest expenses associated with flood damage is replacing hardwood floors, carpets and other flooring materials. The costs of replacing your home’s flooring should be covered. But, some insurance companies will attempt to deny replacement coverage by claiming that flooring materials can simply be dried. Again, if you have any issues with your insurance claim, you should seek help from an experienced Fort Lauderdale flood damage attorney.

What Are My Rights if My Flood Insurance Company Refuses to Pay?

If your flood insurance company refuses to pay for your appliances, personal items, flooring or anything else that suffered water damage in a flood, you should not simply accept the denial of coverage. Instead, you should consult with a lawyer regarding the options you have available. For example, you may be able to secure coverage through mediation, or you may have the right to request an appraisal under your policy. If necessary, your lawyer can also take your insurance claim to court.

Can I (and Should I) Hire a Fort Lauderdale Flood Damage Lawyer to Handle My Claim?

Yes, you absolutely can (and should) hire a lawyer to help with your flood damage claim. From negotiating with your insurance company to taking your claim to court if necessary, there are several ways an experienced Fort Lauderdale flood damage lawyer can help you. You can hire a lawyer to handle your claim from the beginning; or, if you already filed a claim and are struggling to obtain coverage, you can hire a lawyer to take over the process for you.  

What Should I Do if My Home is Still Flooding?

If your home is still flooding, you want to do what you can to protect your property. However, it is extremely important that you not put yourself in danger. When you contact your flood insurance company, it should send someone to try to mitigate your losses. For example, if your roof is leaking, your insurance company might send a contractor to install a tarp to prevent additional water intrusion. But, this does not always happen, and, rather than risking your own safety (and potentially jeopardizing your insurance claim), you should contact a Fort Lauderdale flood damage attorney who can explain your rights and options under your flood insurance policy.

Flood Insurance Through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

The National Flood Insurance Program is a federal program that is designed to ensure the availability of flood insurance to those who need it. While the NFIP is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), FEMA does not provide flood insurance under the program. Instead, homeowners purchase NFIP insurance through private insurance companies that have contracted with FEMA.

If you have flood insurance under the NFIP, this last point is very important to keep in mind. Even though the NFIP is a government program, filing an NFIP flood insurance claim still involves dealing with a private insurance company. As a result (and given that many floods in South Florida result from hurricanes and tropical storms that impact tens or hundreds of thousands of homeowners at the same time), filing a successful NFIP flood insurance claim can prove very challenging.

We represent South Florida homeowners who need help filing insurance claims under the NFIP. Whether you are just starting the process or you have been struggling to secure coverage, we can help. To learn more, contact us for a free consultation today.

What Does NFIP Flood Insurance Cover?

NFIP offers two different types of coverage. Building coverage can provide compensation for damage to building features such as foundation walls and stairs. In addition, it covers things attached to the structure, such as:

  • Wall-to-wall carpeting
  • Installed cabinets, paneling, and bookcases
  • Plumbing and electrical systems
  • Stoves, refrigerators, and other built-in appliances
  • Fuel tanks, well water pumps and tanks, and solar energy panels
  • Detached garages and other structures 

By contrast, content coverage provides reimbursement for damage to moveable property such as counter appliances, furniture, clothing, and electronics. Washers, dryers, and window air conditioning units are also covered under contents coverage rather than building coverage.

FAQs: Filing a Successful Flood Damage Claim in Florida

What If I Have Lost Everything to Flood Damage from a Hurricane or Tropical Storm in South Florida?

If you have lost everything to flood damage from a hurricane or tropical storm, it will be extremely important to make sure you receive the full coverage to which you are entitled under your flood policy. You will want to have a Fort Lauderdale flood damage lawyer review your policy to make sure you know what is (and isn’t) covered, and you will want to make a list of everything that you believe you are entitled to have repaired or replaced.

As you move forward, you will need to be diligent about following up with your insurance company. While you can try to handle your situation on your own, it will most likely be in your best interests to hire a lawyer to help you. You are facing a very challenging situation, and it will be well worth it to have an experienced advocate on your side.

How Can I Make Sure My Flood Damage Claim is Covered?

To make sure your flood damage claim is covered, you need to ensure that you have a clear understanding of your rights under your flood insurance policy. You also need to keep tabs on your insurance company, and you should have a system for keeping track of what has (and hasn’t) been completed. Again, while dealing with your situation on your own is an option, it is a far better option to get help from an experienced Fort Lauderdale flood damage lawyer.

Does It Matter Why My Home Flooded?

Yes, it does matter why your home flooded. The reason why your home flooded will determine whether you have a claim under your homeowners policy or your flood insurance policy. For example, while flood insurance typically covers inundation, homeowners insurance typically provides coverage for water damage resulting from wind and rain. 

What Factors Influence the Severity of Flood Damage?

In South Florida, we generally think of water and flood damage caused by hurricanes. But there are many factors within a storm or even outside of storms that can lead to flood damage. These include:

  • Roof leaks
  • Broken pipes
  • Obstructed waterways
  • Irresponsible actions on neighboring properties
  • Tidal flooding
  • Inadequate drainage systems

Often, several factors together increase the severity of flood damage. For example, in the aftermath of a storm when many property owners file claims, insurance companies can be very slow to process claims and may be more likely to dispute damage or deny claims entirely. Assistance from an experienced flood damage attorney often helps property owners recover in these situations.

Can a Fort Lauderdale Flood Damage Attorney Help When Damage is Caused by Sewer Backups?

Flood insurance generally covers only losses caused directly by flooding. For example, if a sewer backs up because of floodwater accumulation, damage from that backup would typically be covered under a flood insurance policy. If, on the other hand, a sewer backs up because of another cause, the flood insurance will usually not cover any damage caused by the backup. Standard homeowners insurance also may not cover damage from a sewer backup, although some policies may include backup coverage as a separate endorsement.

Sewer backups can be caused by problems in main city lines that standard insurance policies may not cover. Property owners should read the fine print in their policies to ensure they have the coverage recommended for their area. If an insurer refuses to pay for damage that should be covered under the policy, a property damage attorney can fight to get fair treatment or determine whether it could be possible to recover from a third party. 

Signs of Flood Damage Property Owners Should Look For

In many cases, floodwaters have receded by the time a property owner has a chance to see their flood-damaged home or business. Some damage will be obvious, but the most costly damage is often hidden from view.

Property owners need to inspect and report damage to structural supports, walls and floors. For instance, drywall can soak up water like a sponge, and it may not be immediately apparent that a wall has become waterlogged. Undetected water can increase mold and air quality issues.

Flood water also frequently damages ductwork, as well as systems like hot water heaters and HVAC. It is a good idea to have a thorough inspection completed and thoroughly document all damage. Homeowners, business property owners, condo owners, and condo associations should all be prepared to consult an experienced attorney if their insurance carrier denies or undervalues a claim for flood damage that should be covered.

Discuss Your Flood Damage Claim with Fort Lauderdale Flood Insurance Attorney Joseph Maus

If you would like help with your flood damage claim, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Fort Lauderdale flood damage attorney Joseph Maus, call us at 855-999-5297 or inquire online now.

 

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