It’s officially hurricane season, meaning Louisiana is vulnerable to storms for the next several months. Preparation is vital for people in storm-prone areas, and tasks like putting together an emergency kit, creating an evacuation plan, and buying comprehensive home insurance can help residents get ready. But after a storm, countless homeowners get shocked when they file insurance claims and realize that their insurance companies aren’t helpful. In some cases, they may actively try to prevent policyholders from getting the reimbursement they deserve.
Insurers promise they’re on your side, but that isn’t always the case — and you may learn that the hard way. You may never have considered hiring a Louisiana hurricane attorney after a storm, but it can be invaluable. Lawyers have the experience to stand up to insurance companies in a way that you can’t do on your own, and pursuing legal action can speed up the process of getting the settlement you need to restore your property. Hurricanes can cause devastating damage, and some repairs that you may need to make include the following:
- Roof replacement
- Mold remediation
- Replacing damaged appliances
- Fixing water damage
- Window and door repairs
- Repairing electronics
Intense hurricanes can rip apart homes, leaving homeowners and business owners with no choice but to rebuild from scratch. Even seemingly small renovations can cost tens of thousands of dollars, which is why it’s essential to have property insurance.
The Hurricane Insurance Process
The days after a storm can be overwhelming, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the insurance process ahead of time. It would be best to take pictures of your home’s interior and exterior before the hurricane to prove the damage was caused by the storm. Wait until the storm passes before you attempt to assess your property. Even if the weather seems calm, the wind can pick up suddenly. Once it’s safe, you should take pictures and videos of all damage. You can make temporary repairs to prevent your property from being further damaged and keep your property secure, such as boarding broken windows or adding a tarp to your damaged roof, but don’t rush into non-emergency maintenance.
Plan to contact your insurance company as soon as possible — ideally, within a few days of the storm. Depending on your insurer’s policy, you usually have between 60 and 180 days to file a hurricane claim. But the sooner you file, the sooner you’ll get compensation from insurance to make repairs. Your insurance company must send an adjuster within 30 days to inspect your property. The Louisiana Department of Insurance sometimes extends this time frame after catastrophic storms that generate many claims. After an insurer has “satisfactory proof of loss,” usually an account of damage and what’s needed to make repairs, it has 30 days to settle the claim.
When To Hire A Louisiana Hurricane Damage Attorney
Under Louisiana law, homeowners should have their claims resolved within a few weeks of filing them. But this is far from the reality many policyholders face after natural disasters. Months after Hurricane Ida devastated the southeast, thousands of people living and working in Louisiana were still waiting to hear back from their insurance companies. What should you do if an insurance company doesn’t settle a claim within the expected timeframe? Let’s look at a few scenarios where contacting a hurricane property damage lawyer is a good option.
Insurer Acts In Bad Faith: What does it mean when an insurer acts in good faith? Under La. R.S. § 22:1973, insurance companies owe good faith and fair dealing to policyholders. This means that they can’t mislead clients, must pay claims promptly, and cannot unfairly deny coverage in a way that is “arbitrary, capricious, or without probable cause.” If the insurer doesn’t meet their duty, they can be liable to pay two times the damages sustained or $5,000, whichever amount is higher.
Insurer Fails To Respond Promptly: An insurer may fail to respond in a timely way because it is overwhelmed with claims, which is why the Louisiana Department of Insurance offers extensions during extenuating circumstances. Other times, insurers don’t respond because they’re no longer operational. Since 2020, more than 20 insurance companies have been declared insolvent or voluntarily withdrawn from Louisiana. These insurers have left thousands of policyholders unable to fix storm damage.
Insurer Denies Claim: You’ll usually get an explanation if an insurance company denies your Louisiana hurricane claim. Sometimes, it might be a simple solution, and the company will pay out the claim after you submit more documentation. In other scenarios, the insurer may refuse to pay you even when there’s ample evidence that your claim is legitimate. They may offer a settlement amount that’s only a fraction of how much you need to pay for the damage.
You pay a monthly premium thinking your insurance company will help you in an emergency, but that’s not always true. If an insurance company fails to pay you a fair settlement after a hurricane, it’s time to contact a Louisiana hurricane lawyer. Herman Herman Katz has fought for thousands of Louisianans mistreated by insurers. We know what you’re owed under Louisiana’s hurricane disaster insurance laws, and our team can help you fight a denied or underpaid hurricane claim. Fill out our online form or call 1-844-943-7626 to schedule a free consultation.