Many businesses throughout Louisiana are struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. When it comes to property damage, even a minor interruption in service can have disastrous effects on the prosperity of a business. When filing a property damage claim, insurance companies may act in bad faith to reduce or outright deny a legitimate claim.
At Herman Herman & Katz, LLC, we understand how frustrating it is to manage a property damage claim. That’s why our Hurricane Ida attorneys are on standby to help with any questions you may have. Whether you need help negotiating with the insurance company or finding the evidence you need to strengthen your claim, we are here to help.
Determining the Scope and Pricing of Damages in Hurricane Ida Insurance Claims
When it comes to commercial property damage claims, it’s important to determine the scope of the claim. This refers to any of the physical damage caused to the property and the repairs needed based on that damage. Several property insurance policies, especially those for businesses, include detailed information about the types of damage covered. In many cases, certain damages may not be covered by the policy, even in the event of a hurricane.
Overall, estimating the scope of property damage to a business can take several weeks or even months. To make a proper estimate, it’s essential to have multiple inspections from experts like electricians, plumbers, and roofers. This becomes even more complicated when businesses have rentable units on their property, such as office space or apartments.
Pricing is another important part of property damage insurance claims. This refers to the cost to repair or replace items within the scope of your claim, including but not limited to:
- Roofing materials, and
- Labor costs.
While this may seem straightforward, the cost of building supplies dramatically increases after a hurricane due to supply chain issues. To help estimate the cost of those materials, insurance companies use basic computer programs to determine the price. Unfortunately, these programs often don’t take into account the real world increases in price immediately following the hurricane. For this reason, it’s important to start determining the scope and pricing of your claim with one of our Hurricane Ida attorneys sooner rather than later.
5 Tips for Property Damage Insurance Claims
When hurricanes hit Louisiana, small businesses have a difficult time dealing with service interruptions, lost revenue, and property damage. Filing an insurance claim often means the difference between permanently shuttering a business or staying afloat while the community recovers. However, even small mistakes during the claims process can jeopardize the recovery of your business. Here are some tips for filing Hurricane Ida insurance claims to help get you started.
1. Contact Your Insurance Company as Soon as Possible
If you have an active business insurance policy, it’s best to file your claim with the insurance company immediately. Since there are tens of thousands of residents and businesses affected by Hurricane Ida, the insurance company may be backlogged on claims. The sooner you make your insurance claim, the sooner you’ll be assigned an adjuster to begin the process. Delaying this process is an unnecessary risk.
Once you contact your insurance company, document any communication you have with them. If an adjuster makes a verbal assurance of coverage, ask for it in writing. Louisiana has strict rules for how insurance companies process claims, so it’s important to make sure they’re acting in good faith.
2. Read Your Policy Carefully and Beware Third-Party Adjusters
Remember that your policy outlines everything the insurance company promises to pay in exchange for your premiums. However, it also includes any damages not covered after a hurricane. It may also have hurricane deductibles that you must pay before the policy starts to cover any damage. By reading the policy thoroughly, you’ll have a better understanding of what the insurance company must cover. If you have any issues understanding parts of the policy, our Hurricane Ida property damage attorneys can help.
Once you make your claim, chances are the insurance company may hire a third-party adjuster to handle your claim on their behalf. Since these adjusters handle many types of claims, they don’t usually understand the full scope of a policy. In many cases, they don’t read most of the policy when handling your claim. Don’t assume that they have enough training or expertise to process your claim correctly.
3. Collect Evidence of All Physical Damage to Your Business
Make sure to gather as much evidence as you can of the damage to your business. The photographs and videos you take of the scene not only help determine the scope of your claim but also reduce the chance of disputes. Even following devastating weather events like hurricanes, insurance companies try to minimize claims as much as possible. Having organized, detailed documentation of the damage to your business prepares you for the insurance company’s tactics.
4. Gather the Necessary Financial Business Records
When you make a business insurance claim, the insurance company may need several copies of your financial records. These records help calculate the extent of your losses during a business interruption. To prevent any processing delays, obtain the necessary documents immediately following documentation of the damage. This may include profit and loss statements, lease and rental agreements, tax returns, financial statements, and more.
If you need help putting together your claim or providing proof of loss, hire professional accountants or other experts to assist with the documentation. At Herman, Herman & Katz, our Hurricane Ida attorneys have many experts at our disposal to help with property damage claims.
5. Contact One of Our Hurricane Ida Attorneys
Like other businesses in Louisiana impacted by Hurricane Ida, we know how difficult it is to deal with a business interruption loss. Our property damage lawyers have experience helping thousands of Louisiana businesses navigate claims after major hurricanes. To us, community comes first, and we dedicate ourselves to helping local businesses with this overwhelming process.
Louisiana “Good Faith” Requirements for Insurance Companies
The state of Louisiana has laws that require insurance companies to act in good faith and fair dealing when handling claims for policyholders. What does this mean when filing Hurricane Ida claims? In short, there are certain things an insurance company can and cannot do during the claims process. Here are Louisiana’s requirements for insurance companies handling claims.
Truthful Representation of Facts and Provisions
When investigating a claim, the insurance company cannot misrepresent any facts about the claim or the insurance policy. For property damage claims, this means that the insurance company can’t lie about what it covers in the policy. In addition, the insurer must be truthful about any facts pertaining to the case. For example, if your policy includes protection from damage caused by wind, the insurer can’t claim that it’s not covered.
There are penalties for insurance companies that misrepresent facts or policy provisions to policyholders. If the insurance company lies about your policy coverage, you may be able to collect attorney fees along with your damages.
Prompt Adjustments to Claims
In Louisiana, insurance companies must begin their claim adjustment process within a timely manner. This law even applies to claims made after major events like Hurricane Ida. Under this law, the insurance company must assign an adjuster and have them inspect the damage within 30 days of the date you file your claim. Since hurricanes, floods, and other weather events leave many people on the verge of financial ruin, this law ensures that the insurance company acts promptly. If you have to wait more than 30 days for inspection, you may be able to collect attorney fees from the insurance company.
Timely Claim Payouts
Once an insurance company receives a “satisfactory proof of loss,” it must pay the claim within 30 days. A proof of loss is a detailed report with supporting documentation that provides an estimate of the losses owed to you. This includes all the evidence collected for your claim, such as photos, videos, invoices, receipts, and repair estimates. The purpose of this law is to prevent insurance companies from delaying claim payouts. If the insurance company forces you to wait more than 30 days for a payout, it may be subject to additional penalties under Louisiana law for acting in bad faith.
Was Your Business Interrupted by Hurricane Ida? We Can Help
If your business sustained any damage during Hurricane Ida, please let us know if you need any help. At HH&K, our attorneys have extensive experience representing businesses and individuals affected by hurricanes in Louisiana. In 2007, the State of Louisiana hired our firm for an antitrust case against several major insurance companies for underpaying victims of Hurricane Katrina. We know how devastating these events are for our community, and we dedicate ourselves to the well-being of our clients.
For more information or to set up a free consultation, call us at 844-943-7626 or contact us online. We’ll meticulously review your Hurricane Ida insurance claim and pursue the compensation you need to recover.