Hurricane season is upon us once again. Although Louisiana has been relatively lucky in terms of hurricanes and tropical storms for the last few years, we were given an unnecessary reminder of their potentially devastating effects by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Michael. In addition to stocking up on supplies and updating your exit plan, now is the time to make sure your insurance coverage on your home/property is in order.
Although an in depth discussion of insurance coverage is beyond the scope of this post, coverage for hurricane or tropical storm damage usually comes from one of two sources: 1) homeowners insurance, 2) flood insurance. The potential trap for the unwary, is that if there is a lapse in your coverage or you need a new policy written, coverage does not kick in for thirty days! Thirty days of watching the weather and praying that a storm doesn't hit, and that your property is not damaged or destroyed. Do yourself a favor, spend the ten minutes now to confirm that your coverage is current.
We also always strongly recommend getting flood insurance; even if its not required by your mortgage holder. The relative cost of getting flood insurance is minor in comparison to the value of your home or property and is money well spent. This has been a major issue in Houston and Baton Rouge, where many residents opted not to have flood insurance because they were not in a flood zone, and their mortgage holder did not require it. Ask any of them today, and they will echo my sentiment. Its not worth the risk. Get flood insurance period.
Finally, while you are checking to make sure you have homeowners and flood insurance on your property, and that it is current, go ahead and take a look at the coverages afforded. Homeowners typically will delineate coverage for the structure and the contents. Do those amounts make sense for you? Would they provide the necessary coverage if your property was badly damaged or destroyed? Now is the time to make any necessary changes.
If your home or property were to be damaged in a tropical storm or hurricane, its important to document all the damage. The first step is to have before pictures showing your property and personal belongings. You should then immediately report any damage after the storm to your insurance company to get the claims process started. Then, you should contact a lawyer to ensure that you don't miss a step in the process and to make sure that you are fully compensated. If you have questions about your insurance coverage or need help making a claim for damage, contact us for a free consultation.
- Chris M. Short is an associate attorney at Kiefer & Kiefer.
This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.