Weeks following Hurricane Harvey, families and businesses are still just in the beginning stages of the rebuilding process. With the record-setting rainfall came damage estimated to exceed $100 billion.
Property owners anxious to rebuild and return to normal, however, may come across legal complications in the process.
Following a natural event as severe as Harvey, insurance claims, disagreements between contractors and consumers, and tenant disputes are bound to happen. Focusing on some specific areas in the rebuilding phase may help you, your family and/or your business avoid these disputes and position your claim and recovery for success.
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How to Avoid a Dispute over Your Hurricane Harvey Claim: 4 Steps You Can Take
- Document everything – The widespread destruction caused by Harvey means insurance companies and their adjusters will be faced with more claims than normal. With such a long list of claims to investigate and make a determination on, it is possible that your insurance company may take longer than normal to inspect the damage.
Consequently, it is essential that you keep extensive, detailed records regarding the damage and losses you have sustained. Maintaining detailed documentation and providing this evidence to your insurance company (with your claim) can help lower the chances of a disagreement between you and your insurer. Some documentation and evidence to keep include:
- Photos of the damage (and pre-damage pictures, if available)
- Samples of items damaged or lost
- Temporary lodging and meal expenses
- Moving expenses
- Lost business profits.
- Choose a reputable, reliable contractor – Before hiring a contractor to repair your home, business or property, do some research to get an idea of a contractor’s reliability and reputation. With contractors coming from out of state, it is important to understand the type and quality of services they offer before entering into an agreement.
Hiring a skilled contractor who may have a longer waitlist (than a less reputable competitor) may actually save time in the long run. That’s because, with a skilled contractor, it is far less likely that repairs will be shoddy or incomplete. That, in turn, can mean that you are less likely to have to seek court intervention to hold the contractor accountable for failing to complete the repairs properly (or at all).
- Get the contractor’s bid in writing & make sure your insurer approves it – Some additional steps that are important to take before hiring a contractor are to get everything in writing and to submit the contractor’s written terms and costs to your insurer for approval.
A dispute with the contractor over what you thought was a simple agreement – or your insurer’s denial of the contractor’s terms – can be quick ways to end up in litigation that could have been avoided if written bids had been submitted to and approved by the insurance company before any repair work was started.
- Examine the language in your lease contract – Another possible cause of litigation is landlord-tenant disputes. Generally, the most basic lease contract language does NOT take a storm of Harvey’s magnitude into account.
This can create uncertainty, disputes and lawsuits regarding who is responsible for repair costs under the lease. For those who have or are going to enter into a lease, it is important to examine the language within the lease so these terms are clear.
Like other major natural disasters, Hurricane Harvey is likely to spur an influx of litigation as insurance claim disputes amass in courts. While Hurricane Harvey survivors will likely want to return to normalcy as quickly as possible, moving too quickly to get repairs made may paradoxically draw out the process by giving rises to insurance disputes that ultimately require court intervention.
By maintaining documentation, researching potential contractors, obtaining all information in writing, and understanding the agreements you have entered into, you may actually save time in the long run.
While litigation is sure to follow a natural disaster, patience and diligence in the immediate aftermath may help you fully recover without requiring the assistance of an attorney.
Get Important Answers about Your Hurricane Harvey Claim: Contact a Hurricane Insurance Claim Lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm
An experienced hurricane insurance claim lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm is ready to discuss your Hurricane Harvey claim and help you successfully navigate the complex recovery process that lies ahead.
Call (877) 892-2797, text (281) 612-8024 or email our firm for your FREE Consultation. Taking the single step to contact us can be the key to protecting your claim and setting it up for the maximum available recovery.
The Amaro Law Firm’s record of unparalleled representation and success in storm and hurricane damage claims has earned us outstanding testimonials from former clients, as well as 5-star ratings on Google and Facebook.