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Coping with the Aftermath of Hurricane Ian
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
Ian was either a strong Cat 4 or a weak Cat 5 when it hit Lee County. From the perspective of those further north along the coast, Ian's curve inland was lucky. Those in the path of Ian didn't fare so well.
Your house may be gone with all you owned, or storm surge flooded your area, maybe a tree fell on your roof. So many possible problems, and experts are giving us mixed messages
on the damage: Greater than Andrew, less than Katrina, but you can see from the pics that damage is extensive. That's not to say less of the lives lost, possibly near 100.
First you must make sure your family is safe either in a shelter or with relatives. Once that concern is at least temporarily under control, it is time to turn to recovery of home and property.
We hope you had adequate Wind and Flood coverage. Adequate is enough for you to rebuild and restore your life to what it was before. You'll have to decide whether you want to rebuild in
the same dangerous area. You have some options. But back up: how will you know if you have adequate coverage?
One problem is differentiating between wind and water damage. Unfortunately, you may find your insurer saying you have flood damage when you thought it was wind damage. That has the effect of
making FEMA responsible for paying damages rather than your insurer. If there is sufficient doubt about this issue, you'll have to go to court with the best attorney you can find to try to pry benefits out of your insurer.
(Side note: FCAN and other consumer groups have long advocated for an "All Perils" policy that would cover everything and eliminate the problem. What we see now is insurers playing to wear down consumers by delaying and confusing claims
leading to a bad outcome for the desperate consumer. You can only avoid this by getting a hungry, rabid dog, intimidating attorney to convince the insurer you're not someone they want to mess with.)
Second, either you or your insurer hire a company to clean up your property and make everything safe. Reputable companies are available but make sure their contractor license is up to date and legit. Do not sign an AOB - Assignment of Benefits - agreement until
you have read it thoroughly and are confident it is OK. A major problem with these is they sometimes put your contractor in a position to sue your insurer without your knowledge or approval. This is not a good practice, and we suggest avoiding it in most cases. However,
sometimes you can get good educated advice from your contractor which will result in a better repair. Take notes.
Your insurer should always process your claim in a timely manner, answer the phone, and provide helpful advice and resources. They can do it right, or they can drag their feet and delay until they break you.
Here is a link to more advice from an ally, United Policyholders. They are national, but they have tailored advice for Ian. Here's a link. One of their first suggestions is to photo or video everything at every stage. Good advice.
Good luck and post any questions in the comments here. Thanks,