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PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS
New Orleans Hurricane Insurance Claims
Need to file an insurance claim after a hurricane?
Hurricanes are a part of life in New Orleans. Many residents of the Big Easy have weathered their fair share of these storms, and most have a story or two to tell as a result.
However, the damage these hurricanes leave in their path seems to be getting increasingly worse. It often leaves residents of Louisiana with little or nothing left of their homes and property. These storms leave individuals and communities devastated, which can take an emotional and financial toll on those affected.
Most homeowners along the coast are aware that insurance is a crucial part of the homeowner experience and often have to turn to their insurance company after these disastrous storms.
If your home has sustained damage after a hurricane, your insurance company will inform you whether your property is a total loss. However, keep in mind that insurance companies want to save money where they can.
An experienced New Orleans hurricane insurance claims lawyer can help make sure you get the full value of your insurance policy.
Possible Property Damage From a Hurricane
- Wind damage (roof damage, structural damage, etc.)
- Water damage from rain
- Water damage from flooding
- Electrical damage or electrical fire damage
- Damage from falling trees and debris
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?
When you purchase homeowners insurance, it certainly gives you some peace of mind knowing your property is protected. However, most homeowners insurance does not cover damage from hurricanes without extra coverage for flooding or an extra deductible for hurricane damages.
National Flood Insurance Program
If you’re a Louisiana homeowner that’s a native of the Bayou, you probably already know that a typical homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover flood damage. That’s why having an additional flood insurance policy is essential. In fact, if you have a mortgage for your New Orleans property, flood insurance may be mandatory.
According to FEMA, just an inch of water in your home can result in as much as $25,000 in damage. This type of policy will cover flood damage to your home and even your belongings, and you can purchase coverage through a private insurance company or through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Through the NFIP, coverage for flood damage can be obtained in order to address your home’s damages faster and can be purchased to cover businesses, property owners, and even renters.
Coverage for Damage Due to Hurricane Winds
While wind damage is typically a covered category in most homeowners insurance policies, when you live in an area prone to hurricanes—like the Bayou—sometimes these policies exclude damage caused by hurricane winds. You may need to have additional coverage in place for strong and persistent hurricane winds.
How is the Value of Damage Calculated by the Home Insurance Company?
Under some homeowners insurance policies, the insurance company will only pay the “actual cash value” of the items damaged. This means they will reimburse you for the depreciated value of the item—or what they determine it’s worth.
Other policies—often called Replacement Cost Coverage—will pay the amount it costs to repair or replace the item completely.
Many insurance providers use their own insurance adjuster to value damaged items within the home. In those cases, receipts can help ensure that you are justly compensated for your belongings.
In addition to homeowners insurance, residents may need to purchase flood and/or windstorm insurance separately to be compensated for all the damages they incur during a hurricane.
Valued Policy Law
The good news is that your homeowners insurance policy may owe you 100% of the full value of your policy after a hurricane under Louisiana’s Valued Policy Law. Basically, if the insurer places a value on the covered property (and uses that valuation for purposes of determining the premium for the policy), the insurer is required to compensate any covered loss or damage to the property if it’s a total loss.
However, the insurance company can use a different method of computing the loss in the policy. In Louisiana, if the insurer sets out a different method to be used in the computation of loss for the policy and they provided clear notice of the different method, then they may not be required to pay the full value of the loss.
If the cost to repair your property exceeds the total value of that property, then the property is considered a “total loss.” This means that Louisiana’s Valued Policy Law will apply. The issue arises when a hurricane hits and the total loss is a result of the combination of wind, which would be covered under the policy, and flooding damage, not covered by the policy. This makes it difficult to determine if the Valued Policy Law applies.
Hurricane Insurance Policy Deductibles
Insurance deductibles can be complicated, especially when the reason you need to use your insurance is hurricane related damage. A deductible is the policyholder’s share of the loss that must be paid prior to the insurance company paying their part.
Typically, there are standard or “other perils” deductibles of $500 or $1,000 in most homeowners policies. However, in Louisiana, there are separate deductibles from your regular home coverage deductible for damage caused by hurricanes.
There are three deductibles for homeowners policies related to wind damage:
- Hurricane deductible
- Named storm deductible
- Windstorm and hail deductible
These deductibles are typically a percentage of your home’s insured value and range from 1% to 5%. However, they can be higher in high-risk coastal areas.
Named Storm and Hurricane Deductibles
Named storm deductibles are activated when the National Hurricane Center reports that a storm reached tropical storm strength, which is when winds reach 39 miles per hour.
Hurricane deductibles are activated when the National Hurricane Center reports that a tropical storm reaches hurricane strength, which is at 74 mph.
Windstorm and Hail Deductibles
Windstorm and hail deductibles are used when homes sustain damage from winds from any source including hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, or other extreme weather.
After a big hurricane in coastal Louisiana, it’s common for people to tell you to be ready for another big storm in two weeks. This doesn’t always happen, but it has happened often enough to bring up common insurance questions about a property damaged twice in a short period of time.
Therefore, it’s reasonable to wonder about the application of deductibles in the event of more than one storm in the same calendar year. Louisiana law keeps insurance companies from making you meet your deductible for more than one storm in a year and allows them to only apply the “other perils” deductible for the second and distinct storm.
“Other perils” deductibles are your deductibles for a hurricane, named storm, and wind and hail damage that are separate and less than your homeowners insurance deductible.
Louisiana Law Regarding Insurance Deductibles
While Louisiana allows insurers to charge special deductibles for hurricane damage, they generally cannot increase the named storm or hurricane deductible if policies that have been in effect for more than three years.
Insurers also cannot impose more than one named storm or hurricane deductible per hurricane season.
In 2009 the Louisiana Legislature passed a statute known as the “Louisiana Homeowners Hurricane, Named-Storms and Wind and Hail Deductible Law.” This law addresses both the trigger and the application of these deductibles in homeowners insurance policies issued in Louisiana.
Ensure Your Property is Covered Before a Hurricane
Being prepared for a storm should always include being proactive about your insurance coverage. If there is time before a storm it’s important to document the state of your home to the best of your ability and to do the same once it’s safe after the storm.
Homeowners facing these storms also want to make sure that their belongings inside the home are covered by their insurance. It’s best practice to keep receipts for expensive or important items in your home if you live in a hurricane prone area.
Hurricane Insurance Claims Lawyer
At Cueria Law Firm, we understand the financial stress and emotional loss that comes with major damage after a hurricane. That’s why we offer a free consultation for any person who contacts our New Orleans law firm with a potential hurricane insurance claim issue.
We have no upfront retainer fees, and only collect our payment once we have successfully secured your settlement or trial award.
Let our team at Cueria Law Firm guide you down the path of recovery and handle each step of your case as you weather this storm.
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