Hurricane Matthew aftermath: Should you file an insurance claim?


While much of Northeast Florida was spared the full destructive force of Hurricane Matthew, many local residents – particularly those living along the coastline – did experience damage ranging from moderate to severe.

Homeowners who experienced minor or moderate damage may be wondering, however, whether it’s worth the effort to file a claim for miscellaneous damage resulting from the hurricane.

The answer, local insurance professionals say, is an emphatic yes.

“Most claimants underestimate the dollar amount of the loss,” said Case Walther, an insurance advisor with Montoya & Associates, a Ponte Vedra Beach insurance and financial services firm.

According to Walther, losses often end up totaling a much higher sum than most people estimate on their own. There also may be unseen damages.

“It’s important to have a licensed claims adjuster perform a formal inspection and go over your coverage with you at the time of hurricane loss,” Case said.

Insurance Advisor Matt Montoya, meanwhile, stressed the importance of understanding what your policy covers – and does not cover – as well as the applicable deductibles.

“There is a big difference between paying a 2 percent or a 5 percent hurricane deductible,” Montoya said. “Also, flood insurance is not a covered peril under your homeowners’ insurance, which we find to be a common misconception.”

Now that Hurricane Matthew has passed, Montoya said, it’s a good time for homeowners to reach out to their insurance agent to evaluate their policy and gain a better understanding of their coverage.

“It’s never too late to evaluate your insurance portfolio,” he said, “and now is as good a time as any.”