How to Deal with Hurricane Ida Property Damage ClaimsSeptember 16, 2021
Hurricane Ida was the second-most damaging hurricane to ever hit Louisiana; now, thousands of our state’s residents are facing significant property damage from this record-setting storm.
Industry experts estimate that Hurricane Ida could end up causing $18 billion in property damage across the U.S. Other estimates put the total economic toll of this devastating storm at an astonishing $95 billion.
If you’ve suffered property damage from this storm, you should be prepared to utilize your insurance policy to recover as many of your damages as possible.
At Dudley DeBosier, we’re committed to helping our community through this challenging time. If you need legal help with Hurricane Ida property damage claims, contact our team today.
If you’re simply wanting to learn more about the process, we’ve prepared the following resource to help you file your Hurricane Ida-related property damage claims to ensure a higher chance of success.
Examples of Property Damage Caused by Hurricane Ida
All types of properties were impacted by Hurricane Ida, including homes, rental properties, commercial real estate, and vehicles. Damage you might have suffered and need compensation for could include:
- Foundational damage to buildings
- Roof damage (including tile damage, missing roof shingles and turbines)
- Internal home and commercial property damage
- Broken or damaged windows, siding, doors, and garages
- Extensive damage from flooding
- Water damage to electrical wiring
- Destroyed or badly damaged vehicles
- Destroyed boats, motor homes, and recreational vehicles
- Damaged home appliances
- Uprooted trees
- Downed powerlines
What You Need to Know About Hurricane Ida Insurance Claims
Under Louisiana Law, an insurer is expected to comply with statutory requirements in investigating and handling claims submitted by the insured and third-party claimants. Generally, an insurer is required to initiate a loss adjustment in a timely manner, provide timely payment of claims, and adhere to a duty of good faith and fairness in the adjustment and payment of said claims.
Homeowners insurance generally covers:
- The structure of your home
- Your personal property
- Liability (medical bills) for injuries of others who are hurt on your property
It is important to note that your property will only be covered for a type of loss that is caused by a hazard your policy covers.
Most homeowner policies do not cover flood insurance. As such, be sure to familiarize yourself with the contents and coverages of your policy to learn if your policy does or does not cover flood damage. Additionally, if you have purchased comprehensive automobile coverage, said policy will likely provide coverage for an auto damaged in a storm/flooding. If you only have liability insurance, it is likely your auto is not covered for flooding.
Rights of the Insured
As an insured person, you have rights that are guaranteed by your insurance contract. Generally, you have the right to the fair adjustment of a claim and a right to a fair settlement.
An insurance company should pay the amount of any claim due to the insured person (you) within 30 days after receipt of “satisfactory” proof of loss (meaning, showing sufficient facts and data about the extent of your damages). In the case of catastrophic loss, the insurer should initiate loss adjustment of a property damage claim within 30 days of being notified of the loss unless the Insurance Commissioner extends the period an additional 30 days due to a declared emergency.
If your insurance company doesn’t pay you within that time period, they could be penalized and forced to pay an additional 50% of damages or $2,500, whichever is more, on top of your settlement. If a partial payment has been made, they may owe you 50% of the difference between the amount already paid/tendered and the amount due, plus reasonable attorney fees and costs, or $2,500, whichever is more.
A policyholder also has a right against delays of claim processing, unfair denials, and to not be subjected to unreasonable harassment or bullying by an insurance adjuster. If a claim is denied, you have the right to know why the claim was denied. If your insurance carrier does not uphold their obligation, you are entitled to bring the matter before a court.
- Be patient; the cases with the most serious damages are likely to be handled first.
- When your adjuster arrives, ask for their identification to protect yourself against fraud and scams.
- Come to an agreement with your adjuster on what needs to be repaired and replaced. Do not accept an unfair settlement. If you cannot reach an agreement, contact your insurance carrier, or the Department of Insurance at (225) 342-5900.
- Do not pay money and/or deposits nor sign any contracts until instructed to do so by your adjuster and/or insurance carrier.
No Flood Insurance? You may still be covered for some losses.
- Loss of food by spoilage due to electrical outages or damage from power surges related to storms may be covered by your homeowners insurance policy.
- Some falling tree damage may also be covered under some homeowners insurance policies.
Understanding Your Insurance Policy’s Coverage
The details in your policy are very important because homeowners’ insurance can vary greatly from one policyholder to another. Understanding those details is key, as they might provide ways for you to get much-needed compensation. That’s why it’s important to read your policy closely and know it well when you file a property damage claim.
As long as you have homeowners’ insurance, then at least some of your property damage is probably covered by your policy. You likely have some coverage for your home’s repair costs, damaged personal property, temporary accommodations such as hotel stay costs while you are unable to live in your home, and essential medications that were ruined in the storm.
However, it’s highly unlikely that all of your property damage will be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.
For example, while some (but not all) homeowners’ insurance policies cover property damage caused by wind, these policies rarely cover damage caused by flooding. There can be exceptions to some of these policies, however. For example, if wind damages your roof and leads to water damage, in that case you might have some indirect flooding coverage.
How to Get Started on Your Recovery
Steps to Initiate and Complete a Storm Insurance Claim
It’s helpful to break down the insurance payment recovery process in four steps.
Immediately report your loss to your insurance carrier. Have your policy number and relevant information with you when you make the phone call. If you are not able to stay in your home because of the damage, be sure to let your agent or insurance carrier know.
Be sure to take photos and videos of all storm-related damage BEFORE beginning the clean-up process.
An adjuster from your insurance carrier will inspect your property either on-site or virtually. Work with your adjuster to provide accurate and detailed information.
Inaccurate information can lead to delay in processing the claim. During this adjustment, you may ask about what your policy will cover, your claims process, and determine what to do next.
Road to Recovery
Once your loss is documented, your insurance carrier processes the documentation, and you receive payment. An insurance company has up to 30 days to pay your claim after you give them satisfactory proof of loss. As such, you may need to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. If you do so, keep a list of all the work completed and save receipts for all the materials used.
Be Prepared for Pushback from Your Insurance Company
Ideally, your insurance company would cover everything promised in your policy, but that’s often not the case. It’s very likely that the insurance company will dispute part of your claim, so you should be prepared to deal with this pushback.
Insurance companies might deny or delay your claim, request more proof of your damages, or say that your property was poorly maintained and that’s what lead to the damage. It’s likely your insurer could offer you a settlement for far less than what you deserve.
You DO NOT have to accept these outcomes. If your insurance company gives you an inadequate offer, don’t accept it. It doesn’t mean you are forfeiting all rights to compensation. But once you accept the insurer’s offer, it DOES mean you won’t be able to request more compensation later.
In your communication with the insurance adjuster, hold firm on the damages you believe are covered by your policy. Gather sufficient evidence of those damages and note the specific parts of your policy that you believe cover those damages.
Let Dudley DeBosier Help You With Your Hurricane Ida Property Damage Claim
Our team is dedicated to our community, which is exactly what we mean by the Dudley DeBosier Difference. That’s why we’re helping Louisiana residents file property damage claims related to Hurricane Ida. If you need help, contact Dudley DeBosier today.
We also believe that this information should be available to everyone filing claims in the wake of Hurricane Ida. Keep the above tips on hand as you prepare your claim and deal with insurance adjusters. You can also visit our homepage to sign up for more free resources on this topic by submitting your email address.