Hurricanes can wreak damage, level structures and cause devastation both financially and emotionally. Sometimes, the only hope for property owners is to receive adequate insurance reimbursement very quickly.
Unfortunately, rental property owners are not the only ones who file claims and insurance carriers can experience an overload of them, resulting in denied or unpaid claims. The good news is that rental property owners stand to benefit from following a few steps in order to get their rentals back in order and back on the market.
As a rental property owner who has experienced hurricane damage, you should immediately contact your insurance agent in order to file a claim. In most cases, your carrier will want to send an adjuster out to evaluate the damage before a formal claim is granted. The adjuster will determine the value of the damage and there are three things you should do before they arrive:
Rental property coverage varies greatly from company to company and factors such as location, size, etc. come into play. Also, coverage is contingent on whether owners select policies covering replacement costs versus full cash value, where the owner resides and coverage limitations.
Here is what rental property owners should expect regarding a possible claim denial:
Basic policies may only cover damage to the structure itself and may not pay for losses to other buildings on the premises such as a garage or shed. Coverage may also be different depending on whether the building is a single apartment, duplex, condominium, or multi-family dwelling.
Some policies do not cover the full costs of hurricane cleanup, including the removal of ruined furniture and downed trees, drying out flooded buildings with pumps and industrial fans, and pulling out muddy or molding carpets.
Commercial policies typically do not offer coverage for damage caused by flooding. Owners will need to pursue flood damage claims through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Your tenants will need to live elsewhere while their apartments are undergoing repairs—and depending on how long repairs take, they may not return at all. Until your units can be re-rented, you will not have any rental income to cover the costs of property taxes, mortgage payments, and ongoing restoration. A policy that includes rental income protection can provide payment to make up this loss.
Related: Hurricane Dorian - SPECIAL OWNER FAQ