Legal Hurricane Rights

(WSVN) - So many South Floridians are scrambling to get ready in case Irma comes roaring in. You know about the storm, but do you know what rights you have — whether it’s at your job, your condo or with your insurance company. For that, we bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

The sight of this has South Floridians stressed with the thought of the damage a storm like Irma can do to each of us.

All we can do, of course, is prepare and arm yourself with the knowledge of, legally, what you have the right to do before and after Irma.

Patrick Fraser: “Howard, let’s start with before. Is it too late to get homeowners or renters insurance?”

Howard Finkelstein: “Patrick, yes. Remember the general rule — if a named storm is within three days of hitting, insurance companies will not write you a policy. So if you don’t have insurance, it’s now too late.”

Patrick Fraser: “Right now, so many people are putting up shutters and plywood, but if you cannot do that, or don’t want to do that, can your insurance company refuse to pay for the damages?”

Howard Finkelstein: “No. Unless your policy requires you to board up, they cannot deny your claim. So find that policy now, read it, and keep it in your possession in case you need to call your insurance company.”

Patrick Fraser: “I got an email from a woman who said her condo association was blocking her from putting up shutters or plywood over her windows. Can they do that?”

Howard Finkelstein: “No, Patrick, they cannot, but if you put up shutters or plywood and drill a few holes in the wall, you have to pay to repair the damage. But that’s better than losing everything you own in the condo by not putting up shutters or plywood.”

Patrick Fraser: “You prepare, but your neighbors don’t, leaving chairs on their condo balcony or lawn furniture in their backyard. If that blows into your house and damages it, are they responsible?”

Howard Finkelstein: “Absolutely. The law says every homeowner has to act reasonably, and if your neighbor leaves items out that could have been brought in, they have to pay for any damage it causes to your property.”

Patrick Fraser: “Your car — it’s either hit by debris or it’s flooded, does your car insurance company have to cover that?”

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes. If you have comprehensive insurance, you are covered by that policy for your car.”

Patrick Fraser: “From your car to your job. Your boss says you have to work during the hurricane, and you say, ‘No way, it’s not safe.’ Can they fire you?”

Howard Finkelstein: “Simply put, yes they can.”

Patrick Fraser: “The storm passes, and you suffered damages. What’s the best way to make sure your insurance company cannot deny your claims?”

Howard Finkelstein: “If you suffer damage, the best way to get paid is to have irrefutable proof of those possessions. Do that with pictures of every room in your house, of your jewelry, your car. Anything that’s insured needs to be photographed.”

Patrick Fraser: “Some information you can use and, hopefully, won’t need.”

And if you do have problems you can’t solve after Irma passes, remember Howard and I are here to help you.

With Mr. Finkelstein, I am Patrick Fraser, 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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