We are starting to see a scenario play out more and more with Hurricane Ian insurance claims. Homeowners are filing flood claims with their flood insurance companies who are denying the claim by saying the damage was caused by wind.
Then, when the homeowner files the claim with their traditional homeowner insurance company, the carrier says the damage is not covered because it was caused by flooding and not wind.
If you are in a situation similar to this, then this article should help. We will cover:
- What damage is covered by Flood Insurance?
- What damage is covered by Wind Insurance?
- Why do Flood insurance companies blame obvious flood damage on wind?
- Why do Home Insurance companies blame obvious wind damage on flooding?
- Flood or Wind; Is it really that simple?
- What should you do if your claim is denied by your flood or wind insurance?
- Are There Any Differences Between Hurricane Claims Where the Homeowner Must File a Flood Insurance Lawsuit and/or a Wind Insurance Lawsuit?
What damage is covered by Flood Insurance?
Flood insurance covers direct physical loss to the property caused by floods. In other words, if your home or personal property is damaged by a flood, your flood insurance should cover your claim and pay for your damages.
Flooding can be caused by any one of the following: overflow of inland or tidal waters; unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, such as heavy rainfall; mudslides or mudflows caused by flooding that are comparable to a river of liquid and flowing mud; collapse or destabilization of land along the lakeshore or other body of water resulting from erosion or the effect of waves; or water currents exceeding normal, cyclical levels.
Large waves and storm surges caused by hurricanes can flood homes, tear houses out of their foundation, ruin cabinets, flooring, and drywall, and destroy not only the structure, but HVACS, electrical systems, and plumbing systems as well. These damages are covered by flood insurance.
Flood insurance can cover the physical structure of your home, your belongings, or both.
What damage is covered by Wind Insurance?
Wind insurance covers direct physical loss to property caused by wind. Wind related events include hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, and hailstorms that bring high winds.
Hurricane winds can tear the roof off a home, break windows, and demolish doors and walls. These damages are covered by wind insurance. Additionally, when rain enters the home through an opening in the home caused by the windstorm, such as damage to a roof or window, the water damage to the home is covered by wind insurance as well.
Wind insurance can cover the physical structure of your home, detached structures on your property, your belongings, or all of the above.
Why do Flood insurance companies blame obvious flood damage on wind?
Insurance companies are a for-profit businesses. Insurance companies owe a duty to their owners (typically known as shareholders) to maximize profits. This means that the main goal of an insurance company is to make money, and insurance companies do this by selling as many insurance policies as possible, and then denying or limiting the amount they pay on as many claims as possible.
So, if an insurance company can avoid paying your claim, or limit the amount it must pay on your claim, by taking the position that your damages were caused by flooding – which is not covered under your Wind Policy – the insurance company may do so.
Why do Home Insurance companies blame obvious wind damage on flooding?
Like flood insurance companies, home insurance companies also seek to deny coverage by blaming a flood for causing the standing water inside the home. In order to reduce their costs and liability, they may allege the water damage came from a storm surge, for example, instead of rain that entered through damage to the roof or windows caused by wind.
Often times, a hurricane causes both flooding and wind damage that causes water damage. In that case, the insurance companies consider issues like whether flooding would have occurred if there were no opening caused by winds for rain to enter and flood a structure and how much of the water damage was caused by flood and how much by rain.
Flood or Wind; Is It Really That Simple?
Whether hurricane damage was caused by flood and/or wind damage is not often a simple question. Often times, a hurricane causes both flooding and wind damage, which then results in water entering your home and damaging your house and your personal property. In some cases, what appears to be only flood damage could be caused solely by wind damage, or vice a versa.
When it comes to flood insurance claims, the question is not “is there water damage” but the question is “how did the water cause the damage?” Did the water come from the sky or did the water come from the ground?
As described above, a storm surge of water from the ocean can clearly cause a flood in a home on the beach, which would be covered by flood insurance.
But if the strong, hurricane force winds created damage to the windows or doors and heavy rain entered the property through that damage and “flooded” the home, then it’s not technically flood damage; it is water damage caused by wind, which would be covered under the wind insurance.
What should you do if your claim is denied by your flood insurance or wind insurance?
Ideally, the adjusters for the flood insurance company and wind insurance company would work together to determine which damages were caused by flood and which damages were caused by wind. Unfortunately, it does not always work that way.
If your claim is denied by your insurance carrier, it is imperative to contact an attorney experienced in litigating these claims to help you make a claim in support of coverage.
The attorneys at Wites Law Firm can assist you in demanding the insurance company reconsider their denial of coverage, coordinating inspections and communications with the adjusters for all of your policies, aid you in submitting the necessary documents including a sworn proof of loss, receipts, and estimates, and retain experts, such as general contractors, roofers, and engineers, to refute the insurance company’s findings and help determine the source of the specific losses.
Are There Any Differences Between Hurricane Claims Where the Homeowner Must File a Flood Insurance Lawsuit and/or a Wind Insurance Lawsuit?
YES. There are very significant differences between Flood Insurance Lawsuits and Wind Insurance Lawsuits that can have a major impact on your claim.
Most homeowners and lawyers are familiar with Wind Insurance Lawsuits. This is a claim under your homeowner insurance policy, which can be filed in Florida’s State Court System.
Under Florida law, your insurance company is obligated to pay all of your attorney’s fees and costs if (A) the insurance company denies your claim and you recover money in court through a settlement, jury trial, or judgment, or (B) if you recover in court money through a settlement, jury trial, or judgment more than 50% of the difference between the amount you demand and the insurance company offers you prior to the filing of the lawsuit. In other situations, the insurance company may have to pay less than all, or even none, of your attorney’s fees.
Flood Insurance Lawsuits are different. These lawsuits must be filed in Federal Court. This means The United States District Court for the area in which you live. For example, if you live on the west coast of Florida, which was damaged by Hurricane Ian, your Flood Insurance Claim must be filed in The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
And, for Flood Insurance Lawsuits, the insurance company is not obligated to pay your attorney’s fees or costs.
What to Do If You Have More Flood Insurance Claims Questions:
Wites Law Firm has experience litigation Hurricane Claims, Flood Claims, and other insurance claims, in both State Court and Federal Court. Our consultation is free. We will review your case, and explain all of your rights and options, without any charge.
And We Will Meet You At Your Damaged Property!
Marc Wites is uniquely qualified to handle flood claims because he has substantial Federal Court experience while many insurance lawyers do not. Our consultation is FREE. If we don’t win, you don’t pay us.
Call 866-277-8631 for a Free Consultation. If you have a damaged property in Florida your call will be transferred directly to Marc Wites if he is available.