Two months ago, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States hit Louisiana. Hurricane Ida killed 115 people, and experts estimate that it will cost insurers a staggering $30 billion because of the extensive property damage it left behind. After a storm, repairing your home or business is an overwhelming prospect, and Louisianans are unfortunately facing an unexpected hurdle.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive supply chain disruptions and serious labor shortages in the roofing and contracting industries. Businesses in these sectors were struggling before the hurricane, and they’re now faced with thousands of property owners seeking immediate repairs. Some contractors have resorted to not answering their phones because they’re ringing off the hook. Others say they can only provide service for existing customers and cannot take on new work.
Living through a hurricane can be detrimental to someone’s long-term mental health, and some people will even develop post-traumatic stress disorder as a result. Even when storms aren’t deadly, the anxiety of losing power and experiencing property damage is hard to shake. Unfortunately, home repair companies now say Hurricane Ida’s recovery will last into 2022. It’s frustrating not to get a home back to its normal condition after a natural disaster. To make things worse, Louisiana home repair is also expected to cost more money than usual. Because there’s a lack of materials and skilled workers, finishing home repair and reconstruction projects is more expensive. Insurance companies may refuse to account for the increased costs and offer too-low prices, further complicating an already unfavorable situation.
Insurance Struggles After Hurricane Ida
You pay your insurance company with the expectation that they’ll be there for you when you need them. This isn’t always the case, and some insurers act in bad faith, refusing to pay your claim promptly or even denying a valid claim without any reason. Even if a claim is approved, you still may face issues. Insurers must pay a claim within 30 days after receiving satisfactory proof of loss, but some may miss that deadline. The insurance company assigns you a representative to handle your claim, and you may assume that the adjuster is there to advocate on your behalf. Don’t make this mistake. An insurance adjuster works for their company, not you, and their priority isn’t always to help you get a fair reimbursement.
Insurance companies determine how much to pay you based on the scope of loss, which is their offer to settle the claim and return your home to its pre-storm condition. Some insurers prepare this estimate based on software calculations, while others use established industry rates. Either way, these numbers may not reflect the increased costs of hiring a home repair company right now. You don’t have to immediately accept an insurer’s scope, especially if you think you were offered less than you deserve. You can get your own estimates from contractors to make sure they give you a reasonable payout.
Above all, it’s essential to document every interaction you have with your insurance company. If you discuss your claim over the phone, follow up with an email detailing exactly what was said so you have a written trail. You should also read your policy and make sure you’re educated about the particulars so that you aren’t relying on an insurance adjuster to explain things to you.
Regrettably, the increase in pricing for services and shortage of skilled laborers will make it harder for Louisiana to return to normal, but knowing how to negotiate an insurance claim will help you see your home restored. You don’t have to do it on your own, either. The attorneys and staff at Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC have lived through hurricanes and know how stressful it can be to deal with insurance companies. We can answer your questions about Hurricane Ida insurance claims at no cost to you. For more information, 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.