Filing Your Hurricane Claim
Following a severe storm, many in southern Louisiana are left to literally pick up the pieces. This hurricane season has already kicked off the filing of claims with the destruction brought on by Hurricane Ida. Hurricane Ida had record-breaking winds and the extent of its damage is still being evaluated. Most Louisianians consider themselves “hurricane experts” and are equipped with homeowners insurance policies as well as policies providing coverage for severe wind and flooding.
If you have hurricane insurance and are wondering how to file a claim, the Louisiana Department of Insurance has issued a number of articles to provide guidance on doing so. This article will encompass the highlights of the instructions and information provided by the Louisiana Department of Insurance.
If you are looking for more information, you can visit the pages from the Louisiana Department of Insurance’s Guides for:
- After the Storm: What to Expect When Navigating a Claim,
- What to Expect When Filing an Insurance Claim
- What to Expect When Working with an Adjuster.
What To Expect When Filing A Claim
Immediately following the storm and once you have returned to your home, you should assess the area for any immediate hazards. You need to be extremely careful when entering damaged buildings and homes. If you can do so safely, remove any hazards which could injure you during your assessment of your home. If you are unable to safely remove the hazards yourself, you may need to contact emergency authorities like the fire department. Once any possible safety hazards are removed, you can begin evaluating the damages to your home.
As a homeowner, you may want to immediately start repairs to your home. However, before you begin cleanup, you will want to properly document the condition of your home and valuables. You should take pictures and videos of any and all damages to the inside and outside of your home. To prevent further losses, you can make temporary repairs by boarding up your windows, using tarps to cover any damage to the roof, and drying out the carpets, rugs, and furniture. If any items are damaged beyond repair, do not throw them out until your adjuster can assess its damage.
Additionally, if you purchase any materials, make sure to retain any receipts to document the expenses you incurred. As for permanent repairs, do not begin them until your insurance adjuster has advised that you can.
To file a claim, you will contact your insurance agent as soon as you can. Most insurance companies require notice of the claim within a certain time period, usually 60 days. It is important that you provide as much information to the adjuster so they may fairly evaluate your claim(s).
When you call to file your claim, it is suggested that you have your policy number readily available, a brief description of what happened, and a list of the type and extent of your property damage. You should also mention if you have any proofs of purchase, receipts, and photos or videos that will substantiate your property damage claims. If you don’t have a home inventory list, you should be sure to check all the rooms of your home one-by-one, including any garages or sheds outside.
The Louisiana Department of Insurance suggests that you ask for the following when making your claim: the name and phone number of every agent you speak with; your claim number; the coverage and deductibles for your policy; and a time frame for which you can expect a call from an adjuster. Under Louisiana Revised Statute 22:1892(A), once your insurance company has been notified, they are required to send out an adjuster within thirty days to inspect and assess your damages.
Working with Adjusters
In Louisiana, there are three different types of adjusters you may encounter in insurance. There are the insurance company’s adjusters, independent adjusters who contract with your insurance company, and public adjusters who provide services for a fee.
Once given permission by officials to safely do so, adjusters inspect the damage to your home. The adjuster should provide you with their identification and evaluate your losses. You may even have two different adjusters if you submitted claims under two different policies. In the meantime, you can make temporary repairs to prevent any additional damage to your property.
When the adjuster comes to inspect your property, be prepared and present. Before meeting, It is wise to compile a list of all of your damaged or destroyed property, organize all of your expenses and receipts, and consider putting your photos and videos on a flash drive to give to the adjuster.
If you can’t do this prior to meeting with the adjuster, it is important you have all of your important documents readily available at the meeting. Additionally, if you have a record of improvements you made to your property, this will also assist your adjuster in assessing your damages and settle your claims sooner.
The adjuster will likely inspect each part of your home, taking measurements and photos. When the adjuster completes the assessment, they will provide you with a repair estimate. It is suggested that you ask for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement offer. If you are not happy with the offer, do not settle and negotiate with the insurance company. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, you can contact the Department of Insurance at 1-800-259-5300.
Obtaining Your Proceeds
Many people expect a one-time check for their insurance claims. This is especially not the case after a serious hurricane that caused extensive damage to your home. Typically, your insurance company will issue separate payments for different parts of your claims throughout the claims process. This is because rebuilding your home and replacing any damaged belongings can take between 18 and 24 months for most families.
If you are unhappy with the amount your insurance company has offered to pay you for your claim(s), first call the insurance company. If an agreement cannot be reached, you should contact an attorney or the Louisiana Department of Insurance.
Consult with an Attorney
If you are unsure of the property damage claims process or your insurance company is underpaying, delaying, or denying your claims, the experienced and compassionate attorneys at Cueria Law Firm can provide you with the assistance you need. You may be unaware of the extent of your policy limits which an attorney can help you determine. Our attorneys will maximize your claims and assure you are getting the largest recovery under your policies. Give our office a call today for a free consultation.