The statute of limitations to file insurance claims for hurricane damage used to be three years in Florida. It’s now just two years from the date of loss.
Twenty-four months seems like a long time, but it’s not.
Tropical storms and hurricanes have the power to rip off roof tiles, shred shingles and destroy entire roofing systems. In those cases, the damage is evident immediately after a storm passes and property owners typically file insurance claims right away.
However, hurricane damage is not always visibly evident, nor does it present itself within days or even weeks of the storm. That’s especially true if a storm is not a major hurricane causing visibly destructive damage.
No type of roof – tile, metal, flat or shingle – is immune to damage from a tropical storm or hurricane. That’s why homeowners and property owners must familiarize themselves with their insurance policies as well as the law.
Hurricane Damage: Florida’s Statute of Limitations
The exact language governing the statute of limitations is complex and lengthy. However, the phrase worth noting is that property owners cannot file storm-related insurance claims “unless notice of the claim was given to the insurer in accordance with the terms of the policy within two years after the date of loss.” Property owners who previously filed a claim and need to file a supplemental claim have up to three years after the date of loss.
In Florida, tropical storms and hurricanes do not hit properties at the same time or cause equal damage. Hurricane Irma, for instance, first hit the Florida Keys before making landfall near Naples and marching up the peninsula, causing damage in Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville and other communities.
The date of loss, as defined by Florida Statutes, is described in this paragraph of the law:
“For claims resulting from hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms, severe rain, or other weather-related events, the date of loss is the date that the hurricane made landfall or the tornado, windstorm, severe rain, or other weather-related event is verified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”
READ THE LAW: F.S. 627.70132 – Notice of property insurance claim
Phases of Post-Storm Assessment
Property owners, property managers and homeowners can make visible assessments immediately after a storm. Major hurricane damage can often be seen from the street. Typically, emotions of the post-storm assessment process look something like this:
- Relief: Structures built during the past 20 years are better equipped to handle harsh weather. That explains why property owners may give a quick look at their roofs after a storm and think everything is OK. To them, the roofing system appears intact.
- Out of mind: Thinking all is clear, they get back to their daily routines. Memories of the storm fade.
- Eye catcher: In Florida, rain keeps coming whether it’s rainy season or not. That means water intrusion is possible at any time. It often takes time for water to make its way through roofing systems to rot wood and roofing materials. Then, it goes through insulation and into drywall or ceiling panels, presenting itself as a small wet spot, often discolored, that catches the eye.
- Back of mind: Property owners notice that potential problem, but may write it off as a non-emergency because it’s just a small wet spot. However, leaks never resolve themselves; they only grow larger over time.
- Action: The wet spot grows larger, and it’s finally time to call a roofing contractor.
Waiting to call a roofing contractor increases the scope, and cost, of a roofing repair. Instead of a simple patch to the roof, repairs may now include replacement of the roofing materials, including membrane and underlayment, as well as insulation and drywall on the interior. Depending on the severity of the leak, it also may have damaged furniture or flooring inside a business or home.
When to call a roofer
Lloyd Roofing recommends twice-annual roof inspections, generally six months apart. It’s best to schedule an inspection at the start and end of rainy season. That way, our roofing professionals can monitor any changes and fix potential troublesome areas.
Immediately after a named storm passes, it’s best to schedule another inspection. Identifying and fixing issues before they become problems is critical to the overall health of your roof.
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