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Legal Issues
Oct 2, 2018

Insurance Claims in the Aftermath of Florence

Sponsored Content provided by Deedee Gasch - Attorney, Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, many coastal residents will find themselves with damages to their homes and personal property. 
 
Understanding the insurance you have available and what is covered will help you navigate the claims process. 
 

Types Of Available Insurance          

Homeowners

This ensures your dwelling, other structures and personal property and includes loss of use. Most standard homeowners policies cover your home and your contents on an actual cash value basis (replacement or repair less depreciation). Many insurers offer an option for you to insure your property at replacement cost with a slightly higher premium. 
 
Wind & hail
Typically provided by the North Carolina Joint Underwriting Association, this provides coverage for damage from windstorms or hail, where the insured has an active primary coverage policy in NC that excludes windstorms.
 
According to www.ncjua-nciua.org, “Losses that result from a Named Storm are considered “catastrophic losses” for purposes of triggering Member Insurer duties under N.C. Gen. Stat. §58-45-35(e). Where a Member Insurer has issued the essential policy, the Member Insurer investigates and adjusts. In addition, the Member Insurer provides payment and coverage recommendations to the Association. The Association does not take part in the adjustment and investigation of the claim, other than to review the payment and coverage recommendations.”
 
Flood
Flood insurance is a separate policy. It is not covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Typically, mortgage lenders only require flood insurance if you live in a flood plain. 
 
However, just because your property is not in a designated flood plain, does not mean you should assume you will never incur flood damage. Many who found their homes flooded from Hurricane Florence were not in a designated flood zone. 
 
Unless property owners opted for this additional coverage, any damage from flood or rising waters will not be covered by their homeowners insurance. 
 
Renters
Covers only contents in a rented premises. 
 
College students
Some homeowner policies will include college students’ dorm rooms. If not, coverage for contents in one’s dorm room can be purchased separately similar to renters’ insurance.
 

Common Claims (Are These Covered By Your Homeowner’s Policy?)

Fallen trees

Damage to one’s home from fallen trees is covered under most homeowner’s policies. However, the policy likely will not cover removal of fallen trees from the yard, unless the tree has to be removed from the home or similar structure on the property or if the tree is blocking a driveway. 
 
Damages to appliances

Typically covered by homeowner policies if damage results from a power surge when power is restored. 
 
Refrigerated property coverage

This separate endorsement will cover spoiled foods up to $500 with a $100 deductible. It must be purchased as a separate endorsement on your homeowner’s policy. 
           
Storm related injuries

Typically, injuries to others on your property are covered by the medical payments coverage of your homeowner’s policy. This coverage can help cover medical expenses for someone injured on your property, regardless of fault.
 
Damages to parked vehicles from fallen trees

Such loss would be covered by a comprehensive automobile insurance and not by the homeowner’s policy. Assuming you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, this loss should be covered. 
 

Tips For Navigating The Claims Process

Document

Take pictures, videos, notes of everything that has been damaged. Consider trying to take pictures and footage from as many different angles as possible.
 
Keep your receipts

It’s helpful to show exactly what repairs and resources have been utilized during the process.
 
Record your experience

Make note of everyone you speak to regarding your claim.
 
Text alerts

Find out if your insurance company offers SMS/text message alerts to keep you updated on your claim. This can be a helpful tool in monitoring the claim process.

Deedee Gasch has over a decade of experience litigating catastrophic claims involving serious injury or death. While Deedee’s practice is primarily focused on the defense of premises liability, trucking and commercial vehicle accidents, and medical malpractice, she also has a wide range of civil litigation experience. She spent approximately half of her career representing injured plaintiffs before returning to her first love of civil litigation defense work. This experience on both sides of a case uniquely situates her in negotiations and at trial if settlement is not possible. Deedee is a third-generation Tar Heel and attorney, following in the footsteps of her grandfather, a North Carolina Resident Superior Court Judge (deceased), and her father, a career trial lawyer. She has dual degrees in Journalism and Political Science and earned her law degree cum laude from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida, where she attended on a prestigious merit based scholarship. She is licensed to practice law in both North Carolina and Florida. 

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