Louisiana Department of Insurance’s Post-Disaster Insurance Guide

Post-Disaster Insurance Guide

At Cueria Law Firm, our attorneys understand how devastating a hurricane or its after-effects can be to the residents of southern Louisiana. When these types of disasters occur, your insurance company has the obligation to provide you with proper compensation for your covered property because you timely pay your premiums throughout the year. 

The Louisiana Department of Insurance is a state agency created by the Louisiana Legislature and whose primary purpose is to regulate and monitor the buying and selling of insurance, ensuring that consumers are receiving the insurance coverage that they paid for. This article will cover the pertinent highlights contained in the Louisiana Department of Insurance’s Post-Disaster Insurance Guide. 

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Important Disaster Contact Information

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

www.disasterassistance.gov

www.fema.gov

1-800-621-FEMA (3362)

For speech or hearing impaired: (TTY) 1-800-462-7585

American Red Cross

www.redcross.org

1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767)

Understanding Your Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance is a necessity and is often required by most mortgage companies because it protects your home and possessions against theft and damage. Homeowners insurance is typically a policy that includes a package of coverage for potential property and liability claims. Property claims arise when there is loss or damage that occurs to your home and possessions. Conversely, liability claims are made if someone suffers an injury or damage to their property whether or not you are found at fault. Homeowners insurance coverage is offered in six different forms.

The six different forms for homeowners insurance coverage are:

  • Basic Coverage: covers your home and the articles it contains (i.e. furniture, carpets, and other belongings) in the event of damage or losses from fire/lightning, wind/hail, vandalism, theft, explosions, glass breakage,  etc; also provides comprehensive liability coverage.
  • Broad Coverage: covers your home and the articles it contains in the event of damage or losses from a building collapse, falling objects, weight of ice/snow/sleet, rupture/burst of heating systems, or freezing or discharge of water within plumbing, heating/air conditioning systems and home appliances; also provides comprehensive personal liability coverage. 
  • Special Coverage: covers your home and the articles it contains, as well as, other structures like a detached garage or pool house and its contents against all risks except for specified exclusions (i.e. flash floods, earthquakes); also provides comprehensive liability coverage.
  • Tenants Coverage: does NOT provide coverage for the dwelling, merely covers personal property contained in the dwelling and liability. 
  • Comprehensive Coverage: covers your home and personal property against all risks except for specified exclusions (i.e. flash floods, earthquakes).
  • Special Condominium Coverage: provides coverage to owners of condominium units and covers personal property contained in the dwelling and liability (i.e. does NOT cover the structure itself, only the interior); isn’t offered by all insurance companies.

Flood and Windstorm Insurance

Because homeowners insurance does not extend to damages caused by flooding, most attorneys will recommend that you purchase a flood insurance policy, whether for your home or business. Flood insurance protects homes, condos, apartments, commercial buildings, and other non-residential buildings.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has reported that even just one inch of flooding can cause damages in excess of $10,000 to a home. When referring to flood insurance, a “flood” is “a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from: The overflow of inland or tidal waters; The unusual and rapid accumulation or run off of surface waters from any source; [and] Mudflow, which is a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surfaces of normally dry land areas, as when earth is carried by a current of water.” In southern Louisiana, anyone can become a victim of severe flooding and it is important you take steps to protect your property.

Filing an Insurance Claim

Once you are able to assess the damage to your home after a disaster, you should timely contact your insurance company to begin the process of filing your claim. Some insurance companies require them to be contacted within a specific period of time. Some people have numerous insurance policies covering different things. An adjuster can assist you in determining which policy can and will cover the different parts of your losses. 

When making the call to file your claim, it is helpful to have your insurance policy number ready. Additionally, it is wise to keep a record of the conversation taking notes “including the person’s name, title, date and time of the call.” It is also suggested that you ask questions, provide necessary documents and forms, as well as, “accurate, detailed information.” After this, your loss form will be submitted and you will be assigned to an adjuster for your claim. 

Important to note is that an insurance company has up to 30 days to pay your claim after you give them satisfactory proof of loss. If you have to make temporary repairs in order to prevent further damage in the meantime, be sure to keep a record of all repairs, save receipts for any materials you used, but do not enter into any agreements with contractors until it is approved by your insurance company. 

Working with Adjusters

In Louisiana, the Department of Insurance describes 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 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 present. It is important you have all of your important documents readily available. If you took any “before” photographs, provide them with those, as well as, any receipts for materials you may have from your temporary repairs. 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. 

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.

Avoiding Being Hit Twice

The Louisiana Department of Insurance offers a few tips in order to avoid “being hit twice,” listed below. 

  • Make sure you are doing business with a licensed and insured contractor. You can call to verify a contractor’s status.
  • Ask friends and family members for a trustworthy contractor. 
  • Always get a written estimate of the costs of the repairs. 
  • Never give out your personal information such as bank account information or your social security number to someone you don’t personally know or know to be credible. 
  • Always ask for identification of anyone claiming to be FEMA inspectors, U.S. Small Business Administration loss verifiers, or federal/state community relations and local building officials. If they refuse, contact law enforcement.

If you are overwhelmed by this information or simply are looking for guidance in purchasing your homeowners insurance policy package, reach out to our attorneys at Cueria Law Firm. Having the assistance of an attorney can assure that your home and belongings are sufficiently covered in the event of losses due to hurricanes, named-storms, wind or hail losses or property damage.

 

Our attorneys have helped hundreds of disaster victims get the fair compensation they deserve so they can get back to their lives and their families.  Call Cueria Law Firm at (504)-525-5211 today!

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