Experiencing property damage or property loss from a natural disaster can be absolutely devastating. One day your family home is intact, a haven of love and laughter, a safe shelter for your family. In a matter of mere hours, that home can be completely transformed into an unrecognizable site of chaos and confusion—thanks to a hurricane, tornado, fire, or flood. Attorney Bill Voss explains specific time limits for property damage claims after a natural disaster such as this happens.
Filing an insurance claim for our valuables and other property can help make us feel whole again and give us a sense of righting the wrongs that Mother Nature caused. It can also provide us with necessary closure. But you mustn’t tarry. Pay attention to these essential time limits and deadlines, so you can put the disaster behind you while still getting the claim you deserve.
The Most Common Causes of Property Damage
There are plenty of unlikely, even bizarre incidents that cause damage and prompt property insurance claims, but the majority of these claims stem from the Big Six. The following is a brief overview:
- Fire. Fires caused $21.9 billion worth of property damage in 2020.
- Hail. These variously sized chunks of flying ice are notorious for causing damage to roofs and siding.
- High Winds. High winds don’t have to occur as part of a hurricane or winter storm; they can do plenty of damage all on their own.
- Tornadoes. Between 2010 and 2020, every state in the nation, except for Alaska, experienced one or more tornadoes. In total, tornadoes caused more than $2.5 million in property damage per storm.
- Hurricanes. If you’ve been wondering if hurricanes seem particularly terrible in recent years, you’re right. In 2017, three of the most costly natural disasters were hurricanes (Harvey, Maria, and Irma). In 2020, Hurricane Laura ranked in the top 20 most expensive storms of all time.
- Floods. Water damage from floods, along with the mold that often follows it, can lead to incredibly extensive—and expensive—repairs. Floods can be tricky, though. Not every homeowner’s policy covers them, so be sure to check your policy.
How Long Do Homeowners Have to File a Claim?
Most homeowners insurance policies generally give policyholders one year to file a claim. But that’s not universal. In some states, it’s two years, and in others, it can be as long as six. Further complicating matters, the length of time you have to file an insurance claim depends on the type of disaster and the type of damage that your property has sustained.
The takeaway here? Don’t assume that you have a long time to take care of your claim. There’s no sense in jeopardizing your recovery or rebuilding simply because you didn’t read the fine print. Just make sure to check the policy as soon as you can. Even very important tasks like this have a way of slipping one’s mind, especially when you’re dealing with trauma in the aftermath of devastation.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Delay
When you’re cleaning up from a disaster and the damage it caused, you might not be thinking about insurance claims just yet. But it’s crucial that you start thinking about them. Give your agent a call as soon as possible to get the ball rolling.
Know, too, that there can be variances between the terms of a particular policy and the laws governing insurance claims in that state. Additionally, not every type of disaster follows the same formula, either. For example, flood claims typically go through FEMA, even if your home is covered by homeowners’ insurance. However, you’ll generally file through your insurance agency, even with a FEMA claim. Again, though, do your research and read up on the process, rather than assuming you know the steps.
An Attorney Can Be Incredibly Helpful, Even Essential
Consulting with an attorney to help you file claims and otherwise navigate the process of rebuilding after a disaster is a smart step to take. That’s because it’s the attorney’s job to research, re-check, and remember all those deadlines and time limits, as well as the exceptions to both!
There’s too much at risk to leave your property damage claim in the hands of an insurance adjuster. The Voss Law Firm can help you get the compensation you are owed. Fill out our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or start reading your copy of our free book, Top 10 Mistakes You Cannot Afford to Make When Filing Your Insurance Claim.