Business Hurricane Insurance Claims

Hurricanes bring whipping winds and torrential rains. Electricity can go out for hours or days. Flooding is common. Winds in category 5 hurricanes exceed 157 mph. The 2018 hurricane season is expected to last through the end of November. According to Live Science, the hurricane season for 2018 is expected to be above average in severity.

Most of the news media coverage shows efforts at evacuation. The pictures often show roofs of homes blowing off and cars flying in the air. For many people in Florida, home and personal property damage is just the tip of the iceberg. Businesses of all shapes and sizes suffer damage in many different ways. Building structures can suffer damage. Customers can be denied access to stores and business venues due to bad roads. Shipping may come to a halt. Outages and other damages can cause the business to have to close for a long period of time. Computer systems may crash or go off-line.

Damages to businesses are hard to calculate which makes getting the right type of coverage with the right company essential. Experienced Vero Beach and Sebastian Florida insurance lawyers help businesses prove their losses and get the compensation they deserve. It’s important to get your business up and running as soon as possible. When insurance companies fail to negotiate in good faith, respected lawyers understand how to bring bad faith claims to hold insurers liable for their losses. Respected counsel work to show exclusions shouldn’t apply.

The types of hurricane insurance businesses need

Businesses need to consider buying the following type of hurricane insurance in the highest amounts they can afford – or in amounts that can meet their business needs.

Property damage coverage

Generally, this type of coverage includes the following parts:

  • All peril. This covers almost every type of property damage for every type of cause – except damage and causes that are specifically excluded in writing.
  • Named peril. This coverage only compensates the business for damage and causes that appear on the insurance contract.  It generally provides less coverage, at a lower cost, than all-peril coverage.
  • Wind and Hail. Insurers only pay for wind and hail damages. It provides the least amount of property damage coverage.

Some of the additional factors business should consider for property damage claims due to hurricanes are:

  • The amount of the deductible
  • What materials will be used to make the repairs or to rebuild
  • When the insurance company is responsible for paying for the cost to rebuild instead of repair
  • What adjustments should be made for the age and condition of the property before the hurricane
  • Other factors an experienced Florida hurricane insurance lawyer will review

Flood insurance

Damages caused by wind, hail, and storm are not the same as water damage. Many commercial insurance carriers won’t cover losses due to rising water. The National Flood Insurance Program may provide some coverage for businesses.  Insurers will often try to say the damage is due to rising waters and not other causes. The insurance policy should be clear as to which damages are covered and what happens if there’s a dispute. Businesses should make every effort possible to protect against rising water damage before the hurricane happens.

Business interruption coverage

Service business, retail businesses, real estate companies, organizations, and any entity that depends on customers for support should be prepared for emergencies. They should have contingencies in place. For example, many companies are storing their data in the cloud in case local networks go down during a hurricane. Another way to prepare is by buying business interruption insurance. An experienced lawyer will review the following issues:

  • What exclusions apply? Insurance companies will try to load their policies with numerous exclusions
  • How long your business must be inoperable before demand can be made for business interruption damages
  • Calculation of business loss. companies should try to document loss by day, week, month, and quarter.  Many times, it’s necessary to hire business accountants who understand how to justify business losses. There are different accounting methods used to calculate the business loss.
  • Business interruption losses inclusions? Examples include:
    • Lost profits
    • Fixed costs that need to pay while the business is inoperable such as wages
    • Costs to moving to a new location
    • Costs to warehouse items such as perishable items
  • Taxes that may be due
  • Is a local, state, or federal agency preventing access?
  • How related factors affect the amount of hurricane insurance damages. Such as whether the hurricane occurred in-season or out of the businesses’ prime season.
  • When payment for business interruption begins?

Exceptions

Some items that hurricane insurance may not cover are

  • Utilities – in part, because utilities are often inoperable while the business is inoperable
  • Lost income unless there’s proper documentation

A business may need to consider having more than one insurance policy to cover their various damages.  It’s important to understand which policy covers which damages.