It is hurricane season again and 2020 has been one of the most active hurricane seasons in history. While New Orleans avoided being affected by Hurricane Laura last month, many portions of Louisiana were severely impacted by this hurricane with wind and flood damage and even deaths being reported and they are still trying to recover. For many property owners, the rebuilding process is starting with making an insurance claim and insurance companies have been overwhelmed with the number of claims coming out of Lake Charles and surrounding parishes.
Before anyone has time to catch their breath, New Orleans is predicted to have a direct hit from Hurricane Sally, which could make landfall as a category 2 storm. In the event the storm brings wind and flooding damage to your property in New Orleans, Metairie, Plaquemines, or other surrounding parishes, you want to be prepared to make a claim as soon as possible. A lot of this preparation starts even before the storm arrives.
What Should I do to Prepare for Hurricane Season so that my Property Damage Claim Will not be Denied?
The best steps to take to protect yourself if you are unfortunate enough to sustain serious damage in a storm is to prepare.
1. Call your insurance agent to confirm that your insurance coverage applies to wind damage and flood damage from a storm. Confirm that your coverage is active and that the amount available to you will cover any damage you may sustain. Ask what deductible you may have and make sure it is something you would be able to afford if tragedy strikes.
2. Take photographs. We cannot stress enough the power of documentation. Document the items in your home and the condition of the property.
3. Locate your documents. Place all important documents in one binder or folder. If you can, scan all important documents to yourself so if you forget them in the stress of the evacuation, they are easily accessible to you. This includes banking information, house ownership information, birth certificates, insurance information, investment account information, wills, and any other documentation or information you may need and do not know off hand.
How Do I Make an Insurance Claim for Damage from Hurricane Sally?
1. Call your insurance company as soon as possible. In large-loss events, you can expect major and smaller insurance companies to be dealing with many claims. You want to arrange for your claim to be dealt with as soon as possible.
2. Itemize everything that has been damaged, including individual items, structural issues, or anything else you may be seeking reimbursement regarding. If possible, make a spreadsheet of the approximate value of items and contents. If you have receipts, gather them to so that you can provide them to the adjuster. Put simply, the more organized you are, the easier it is for an adjuster to evaluate the amount of your loss, which makes payment come faster.
3. Take photographs of all of the damaged items and structures. This will help to attach photographic proof of #2, which will help the adjuster evaluate your case.
4. Answer your phone! In many claims, the adjuster will be trying to get in touch with you to discuss the case, arrange inspections, etc. It is important to keep in contact with him or her.
5. Call! If you haven't heard from the adjuster - call them! The squeaky wheel gets the oil. Making the adjuster focus on your claim may make it go faster.
6. If you have had to evacuate, save your receipts. You may be entitled to reimbursement under your insurance policy for gas, hotels, food, and any other out of pocket expenses you have incurred as a result of the evacuation and damage to your home.
What Do I Do if my Insurance Claim is Denied or if I think the insurance company is not being fair?
After Katrina, New Orleanians had to fight battles from afar with insurance companies who hired a team of professionals to avoid paying out on policies to people who have lost everything. Unfortunately, this happens. Louisiana has strong laws in favor of insurance coverage and insurance companies can be liable for bad faith punitive damages as well as attorney fees if they do not pay your claim out properly.
If you have any issues with your insurance company, give us a call. We will give you a free consultation on these issues and your rights.