As Hurricane Ida bears down on Louisiana amidst our kids returning to school and our hospitals swelling with COVID-19 patients, many of us feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Our lack of control over pandemics and severe Louisiana weather events fray our nerves and leave our brains in an anxiety-induced fog.
As we assess the mess that Hurricane Ida made of our homes and businesses, we know that there is much to be done. But we are tired. Oh, so tired. For those Louisiana residents that find themselves picking up the pieces after Hurricane Ida amidst the backdrop of a pandemic, we hope these insurance claims tips will help organize your thoughts and actions during a time when your brain might not be working at its max capacity.
Remember, as weary as you may be, the Louisiana insurance claims process is one of the most important steps you can take towards a return to normalcy following Hurricane Ida. The funds obtained from your insurance policy will help you rebuild your home and business and lessen the financial blow of unanticipated evacuation/recovery expenses.
Unlike pandemics and natural disasters, you can exercise some degree of control over the insurance claims process to maximize your recovery. Here are a few Hurricane Ida insurance claims tips to get you started:
- Make A Hurricane Ida Claim Now. Don’t Wait. – If you have a homeowners or business insurance policy and sustained damage as a result of Hurricane Ida, make a claim with your insurance company now. Do not wait to fully assess your damage. Insurance companies are inundated with claims following a major hurricane. The sooner you make your claim, the sooner the process will begin (and hopefully end).
- Document All Communication With Your Insurance Company – Keep a journal of communication with your insurance company and the adjuster it assigns to your loss. When at all possible, confirm verbal conversations with follow-up emails, letters, etc., so that everyone remains on the same page about requests and/or commitments made throughout the claims process.
- Don’t Rely Upon The Insurance Adjuster Assigned To Your Hurricane Ida Claim – Your ability to efficiently rebuild your life after Hurricane Ida depends to some degree on your insurance claim. Insurance adjusters are assigned to losses by insurance companies to assist with the claims process. But ultimately, your insurance adjuster will return to his/her undamaged home after their job is done, and you will be stuck with the funds provided to you by the company to rebuild your life. Do not rely upon an insurance adjuster to document and calculate the amount you are owed under the policy you paid for. The stakes are too high. Value your own Hurricane Ida loss by obtaining Louisiana licensed contractor repair estimates, etc. and submit such documents to the insurance company. For any personal property lost, research online the replacement cost of such items and submit such lists and supporting documentation to your insurance company.
- Review Your Insurance Policy Thoroughly – Your insurance policy is the deal between you and your insurance company. You dutifully pay a premium year after year in exchange for the insurance company’s promise to pay for certain losses you may sustain as a result of a hurricane. The policy is essentially the insurance company’s written promise to you. It outlines in detail those losses the insurance company promises to cover and those losses it does not. Educate yourself on your policy.
- Beware Of Your Hurricane Ida Deductible – Most homeowners and business insurance policies have separate hurricane deductibles that are substantially larger than the normal deductible. These special hurricane deductibles can require you to personally assume tens of thousands of dollars of hurricane-related losses before your insurance company is obligated to pay anything. Understand your Hurricane Ida deductible early to properly set your expectations for the claims process.
- Photograph/Video Everything – Most of us have smartphones with us at virtually all times. Use these devices to photograph and/or video everything relating to your loss. If you are riding out the storm in your home or business, video the impact of the storm on your property in real time if you can safely do so. There may be disputes about whether certain damage to your property was caused by the storm or some other event not covered by your insurance policy. Documentation of the property being damaged in real time via video can put such arguments to rest. Likewise, after the storm has passed, photograph and video every inch of damaged structural and personal property. This evidence can be very important in substantiating the extent of your Hurricane Ida loss.
- Get Contractors’ Estimates – Insurance adjusters often estimate the cost to repair your damaged property by using a pricing database contained in a computer software used by the insurance industry. This software does not always account for price spikes that can occur due to supply chain issues following a storm. As a result, adjusters may drastically underestimate the true cost to repair your property. The best valuation of your Hurricane Ida damage is the repair estimate of the Louisiana licensed contractor that you select to perform the repairs to your home.
- Make Lists Of Damaged Personal Property – Damaged personal property such as clothes, furniture, books, etc., are typically covered under your insurance policy. Start making lists immediately of these types of items that have been damaged and document the damage to such items with photographs/videos. Use the internet to research the replacement cost of such items and save such supporting documentation to submit to the insurance company.
- Save Receipts For Additional Living Expenses – If you incurred additional living expenses associated with evacuating for Hurricane Ida or cleaning up your post-hurricane mess, these expenses may be covered under your policy. Such expenses might include hotels, meals, gas, long-term rent, etc. Save documentation for any such expenses incurred so that they can be provided to the insurance company during your claims process.
- Ask For Help If You Need It – Our law firm is here to help if you need us. Our attorneys and staff lived through Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and have helped thousands of families and businesses navigate the insurance claims process after hurricanes. We are here to answer your Hurricane Ida insurance claim questions free of charge. Please feel free to give us a call or send us an email if you find yourself feeling frazzled and overwhelmed during this complicated but important process.
For more information about how we can help you with your Hurricane Ida insurance claim, contact us online or call us toll-free at 844-943-7626.
Jed Cain is a partner with Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC. He has dedicated his career to representing injured folks and their families.