Home » Practice Areas » Hurricanes & Natural Disasters » Hurricane Katrina Anniversary Is a Reminder of the Importance of Property Insurance

Hurricane season may be off to a slow start, but the people of Louisiana know how drastically life can change from one day to the next. We need only to remember the devastation Hurricane Katrina caused throughout the state, but especially in New Orleans, to realize how vulnerable we are when a hurricane hits. Flooding, high winds, and downed power lines and trees damage our homes and businesses and pose serious risks to the lives of those who must endure these unstoppable natural disasters.

With the 17th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one crucial lesson everyone must take to heart is the importance of property insurance in Louisiana. Along with that comes the need to accurately document your assets to determine the total value of your premises and their contents to ensure enough coverage if disaster strikes.

We may be unable to prevent hurricanes from making landfall, but we can protect our homes and businesses with insurance, including additional flood insurance. Without adequate coverage, Louisiana property owners are at risk of paying out of pocket for costly repairs and being forced to abandon properties or, worst case, become homeless.

Unfortunately, even when you have the coverage needed to protect your assets, there’s a risk your insurance company won’t fulfill their obligation to you as a policyholder. Insurance companies often get away with paying too little or not at all when someone’s insured home or business is damaged in a Louisiana hurricane. When this happens, know that you can fight your insurer for what you’re entitled to by hiring a Louisiana hurricane damage attorney.

Massive hurricane as seen from space

Hurricane Katrina’s Devastating Effect

Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana on August 29, 2005, and within hours, 20% of New Orleans was underwater. Eventually, 80% of the city was flooded by the time Katrina’s force was diminished, leaving thousands of people stranded, at the mercy of high heat, and in quickly deteriorating and dangerous conditions. While evacuation orders were issued the day before Katrina hit New Orleans, 150,000 residents stayed, whether they chose to or were unable to leave.

New Orleans is six feet below sea level, but a contributing cause for why it was hit hardest was the failure of over 50 levees and flood walls. These factors have led Hurricane Katrina to be considered both a manmade and natural disaster, and its devastation is still felt – and seen – in Louisiana 17 years later.

Hurricane Katrina was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, causing at least $125 billion in damages across the country. The highest sustained wind speed was 175mph, and a 19-foot storm surge resulted in 15 feet of flood water in parts of New Orleans.

The storm destroyed or damaged 850,000 homes in Louisiana and the other states affected by the storm. Overall, Hurricane Katrina impacted 900,000 square miles of land and 15 million people.

Hurricane Katrina resulted in 1,800 deaths, 1,577 of them in Louisiana. High temperatures, limited access to drinking water, and the unsanitary conditions in overflowing shelters housing 55,000 people led to a tragedy that will never be forgotten; Hurricane Katrina will forever be a reminder of how, as humans, we are at the mercy of unpredictable and worsening weather systems, and we need to be better prepared.

Hurricane Katrina Insurance Claims

With how far the damage and destruction extended in Louisiana and other states, Hurricane Katrina’s influx of property insurance claims was unprecedented. Then Hurricane Rita hit three weeks later, making a bad situation worse.

The damage from Hurricane Katrina was unfathomable and far surpassed what other recorded disasters caused. Unsurprisingly, the impact on the insurance industry was extensive. There were over 1.7 million insurance claims from Katrina, and around 56 percent were in Louisiana.

Overall, the states affected by the storm suffered a combined $41 billion in insured losses. In Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina caused $25.5 billion of insured losses, but that doesn’t include flood claims.

Since certain areas of New Orleans weren’t listed as flood zones, thousands of people didn’t have flood insurance when Katrina struck. This left them with no insurance coverage for flood damage, which can be the costliest of repairs. And it was impossible to access most homes in the days that followed, making homeowners too late to prevent mold growth in buildings and significant damage to personal possessions. Those without flood insurance had no option but to pay out of pocket or abandon their properties because they were uninhabitable without extensive repairs or rebuilding.

How a Hurricane Damage Attorney Can Help with Your Insurance Claim

With stronger and more frequent hurricanes pounding Louisiana each year, the future of at-risk areas, such as those along the coast and below sea level, is uncertain. There are vulnerabilities all across the state, but there are clear steps everyone in the state should take to be prepared for a hurricane. However, it takes much more than having an emergency kit, mitigating damage after a storm, and mapping out evacuation and shelter routes. Every home and business owner needs insurance to protect their assets.

Hurricane Katrina brought to light the importance of having property insurance in Louisiana, including additional flood coverage, even for those not in flood zones. It can take months or years to recover from the destruction caused by hurricanes, but this is especially true if you don’t have enough coverage and added premiums to repair damage or replace losses.

Structures, vehicles, personal possessions, and infrastructure are at risk during these natural disasters. The right property insurance in Louisiana provides the necessary protection so you, your family, and your business can recover after a hurricane in Louisiana.

Unfortunately, another lesson learned after Hurricane Katrina is that insurance companies frequently refuse to pay claims or only pay part of what the policy covers. They take advantage of people, including those with enough coverage, who have the evidence to prove losses, and do everything they’re supposed to before and after a storm. Many people don’t know there’s a way to get what’s owed, even when the insurer gives a seemingly viable reason for denying a claim, and insurance companies bank on that. This is why speaking with an attorney is so important.

When an insurance company doesn’t pay what’s outlined in your policy, the hurricane damage attorneys at Herman, Herman & Katz can help. Our thorough knowledge of disaster insurance law has helped our clients get the insurance proceeds they are owed. We’ve successfully fought insurers on behalf of thousands of Louisiana home and business owners, ensuring they can recover after a hurricane. If your hurricane damage claim is denied, or your insurer isn’t paying what you’re entitled to, contact us online or call 1-844-943-7626 for a free consultation.

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