The recent flooding in south Louisiana brought back bad memories for a lot of folks. The widespread loss and devastation we see now is eerily similar to what we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina taught us some valuable lessons about coming back from a natural disaster. We learned about flood insurance and how important it is to have our claims paid timely. We learned about the “fine print” in our flood insurance policies that may prevent us from collecting what we think is owed. We also learned about things that we can do to help get our flood insurance claims paid more quickly.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of Louisiana’s most recent natural disaster. Like so many other local businesses, Herman Herman & Katz is committed to helping the rebuilding effort in any way possible. In that spirit, here are a few flood insurance tips that you may want to keep in mind as you begin the process of making a claim.
- Watch The Calendar Carefully. Under the terms of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the victim of a flood loss only has 60 days from the date of the loss to submit a sworn Proof of Loss to the insurance company. A Proof of Loss is a claimant’s statement of the amount of money being requested along with supporting documentation such as contractor’s estimates, photographs, and lists of personal property damaged. The Proof of Loss must be submitted to the insurer on a specific form and must be sworn to by the claimant. The insurance adjuster hired by the NFIP to inspect damages property may provide a proof of loss form to the policyholder and may help complete it. However, such assistance by the insurance adjuster is a matter of courtesy. It is ultimately the policyholder’s responsibility to submit the form with the appropriate documentation. Failure to submit the Proof of Loss within the 60 day period may prevent the policyholder from recovering what is owed.
- Obtain a certified copy of your flood insurance policy and declaration page from your insurance company.
- Contact your flood insurance company immediately and make a claim. Continue contacting your flood insurance company daily until an adjuster inspects your property and provides you with a copy of the report. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
- Video and/or photograph all of the damage sustained. If possible, date stamp each video and/or photograph.
- Begin researching and contacting Louisiana licensed contractors that can provide you with timely damage evaluations and repair estimates. There is no need to wait on your insurance company to begin this process. The sooner you begin the rebuilding process, the sooner you will end the rebuilding process.
- Save and maintain copies of all receipts, checks, estimate and invoices of all pre and post disaster expenses, purchases, rentals, leases, etc. which support a claim for loss.
- Mitigate your flood loss by making temporary precautionary repairs to your damaged property (after you video and/or photograph the property).
- Prepare an organized list of all personal property that was damaged in the flood. If possible, include on your list the following: 1) A description of the item; 2) the year you purchased the item; and 3) the value of the item. Try and photograph every item that you contend was damaged in the flood.
- Diary and confirm all conversations that you have with insurance claims representatives, adjusters, experts, etc. by letter and/or email.
- Complete the appropriate Proof of Loss form and submit it to the insurance company along with the required supporting documentation.
- Consider hiring professionals to assist you in the preparation and submission of your claim.