If you filed a claim for damages to your home, property, or business that were attributable to Hurricane Ida, and your claim was denied or you are having difficulty with your insurance company or the insurance claim process, you need the services of a skilled hurricane-damage lawyer.
Hurricane Ida caused at least $75.25 billion (2021 USD) in damages to homes, properties and businesses. Aggravating what is already a complex and traumatizing situation, some insurance companies are delaying, underpaying, or denying legitimate claims, which prevents their customers from moving on to rebuild their homes, businesses, and—ultimately—their lives.
This blog entry speaks to some of the issues you might face when dealing with a denied Hurricane Ida insurance claim… and how a skilled hurricane damage attorney can help you deal with them. FAQs include:
How completely are you insured for Hurricane Ida damages?
What Hurricane Ida damages does a typical homeowner policy cover?
What kinds of Hurricane Ida damages are recoverable?
What Hurricane Ida damages are excluded from a typical homeowner policy?
How does a “bad faith claim” result in a denied Hurricane Ida insurance claim?
What do you need to know about “depreciation?”
What are unreasonable demands for a proof of loss?
What are pricing guidelines for Hurricane Ida damages?
What are home-insurance damage exclusions?
What is an anti-concurrent causation clause?
What can you do about a denied Hurricane Ida insurance claim?
How much does it cost to dispute a denied Hurricane Ida insurance claim?
1. How completely are you insured against Hurricane Ida damage?
It is important to purchase a level of coverage that is adequate to completely replace your house and restore your property caused by a covered event. Insurance companies can and will only pay the amount specified in your homeowner's insurance policy.
Remember that there is no sort of policy that is called, “hurricane insurance” per se. Instead, you need to have provisions within your homeowner's insurance policy to have protection against a hurricane.
In many states, a portion of your homeowner’s policy likely covers “wind damage,” and it might provide the primary coverage for your hurricane losses attributable to wind. However, in some states (e.g. Florida, Louisiana, or Texas), you might have been required to purchase a separate windstorm policy, and it will pay for wind-caused damages in lieu of your homeowner policy.
Also, water damage is something different from flooding when it comes to insurance. Damage that comes from wind-driven rain is covered by homeowner insurance (or your windstorm policy), as are waters that enter your home through storm openings in the roof, windows, doors, or storm-caused holes in the walls.
Contrarily, “floodwaters,” which are those that rise from the bottom up, like from the overflow of a pond or lake, or from a storm surge, are not covered by most homeowner insurance policies. You need a separate flooding policy.
These and other complications create difficulties and uncertainties when filing insurance claims, which is why you would do well to hire a skilled hurricane-damage attorney to help you deal with them.
2. What Hurricane Ida hurricane damages does a typical homeowner policy cover?
What is covered or proscribed by your homeowner policy is listed in the paperwork you received when you purchased the policy, and you need to be thoroughly familiar with it before you try to challenge an insurance-company claim adjuster.
Revisit any brochures or sales materials that you were given when you bought the policy; these might include language that shows your insurance company promised more benefits than they are willing to deliver now.
Also, be mindful that insurance company adjusters are “spread thin” after a major disaster. So, you might be dealing with more than one after a hurricane. And often enough, one adjuster might deny coverage for a certain damage while a different one—from the same company—might allow it.
This can happen because there is a lot of ambiguous wording in insurance contracts, i.e. legalese, and insurance adjusters will tend to read policies with a bias that is in their employer’s best interest—not yours.
Making sure you are familiar with your insurance policy allows you to challenge any inconsistencies put forward by a claims adjuster—before the process proceeds any further and becomes more difficult to rectify.
3. What kinds of Hurricane Ida damages are recoverable?
Hurricane Ida caused the usual kinds of damage to homes and businesses that are common to all severe Atlantic storms. But in the case of Ida, there was a lot more damages—and they were severe.
Flying objects caused devastating damage to homes, vehicles, and other property. Heavy rainfall caused flooding that destroyed structures and washed away roads. Wind gusts in the neighborhood of 150 MPH sent objects airborne, smashing houses and buildings while taking down trees and branches to inflict other kinds of damage.
Severe storm surges combined with the astronomical tide, creating storm tides and rip currents that devastated everything in their path. And Ida spawned tornadoes, spreading the devastation beyond its principal landfalls.
Damages included but were not limited to:
Broken windows and glass doors
Damaged or destroyed decks and sunrooms
Damaged or destroyed landscaping, trees, and shrubs
Damaged or destroyed roofs
Damaged or destroyed swimming pools, detached garages, and outbuildings
Damages from loss of utilities (e.g. gas, electric, and water)
Flooding and water damage
Foundation and structural damage to houses and buildings
Lost, damaged, or destroyed personal property
If you have suffered any of these kinds of losses—and your insurance company is denying your claims—you should seek assistance from a skilled hurricane lawyer.
4. What Hurricane Ida damages are excluded from a typical homeowner policy?
Do not simply accept an insurance adjuster’s edict that “you’re not covered.” Consider the frequent case of floodwaters (aka “flood insurance”).
As was explained in (1), “floodwaters” are those that rise from the bottom up, like from the overflow of a pond or lake, or from a storm surge. And yes, most homeowner insurance policies do not cover floodwater damage, which typically requires you to purchase a separate policy, and so arguing with an insurance adjuster about it will be for naught. However…
Water damage that comes from wind-driven rain is covered by homeowner insurance, as are waters that enter your home through storm openings in the roof, windows, doors, or storm-caused holes in the walls (although your deductible might be higher than for other insured causes of damage).
The point here is that you need to be doubly sure that you and the claims adjuster are talking about the same thing. And remember that he or she is not motivated to help you sort one kind of damage from another so that you can get paid. In fact, quite the opposite, which is yet another reason that you need a skilled hurricane-damage lawyer on your side.
5. How does “bad faith” result in a denied Hurricane Ida insurance claim?
Any attempt by an insurance company to renege on its promises, either by refusing to pay your legitimate claim, or by prolonging the process to wear you down, is called “bad faith.”
One way an insurance company might act in bad faith is by misrepresenting contract language to avoid paying a claim, especially if they did not disclose policy limitations and exclusions before you purchased the policy. Another tactic is making unreasonable demands for a proof of loss.
Remember, you are particularly susceptible to bad-faith practices when you are psychologically traumatized after a natural disaster like a hurricane (source). You just “want it to be over with,” and so you might capitulate to a lowball settlement—or no offer at all, which is another reason that you need a skilled advocate: a hurricane-damage attorney.
6. What do you need to know about “depreciation?”
Depreciation reflects the monetary reality that possessions decrease in value over time. So that beautiful range and convection oven for which you paid a small fortune a decade ago is worth a lot less now, even though it was in pristine condition the day before the hurricane.
But remember that depreciation is subjective.
Different claim adjusters will have differing opinions about how much and which items to depreciate. So it is up to you to argue for fair and reasonable numbers, which can be difficult if you do not have precedential knowledge about the monetary value of such losses and how they have been fairly negotiated in the past: yet another reason why you would do well to retain the services of a skilled hurricane attorney.
Also, if you have an RCV (replacement cost value) policy instead of an ACV one (actual cash value), then the insurance company must compensate you for the difference between what they paid you for the item’s actual cash value versus what it actually cost you to get a new one—if you have the receipts to prove it.
7. What are unreasonable demands for a proof of loss?
An unscrupulous insurance company can indefinitely delay your hurricane damage claim by making unreasonable demands for information. For example, the company might ask for proof of losses that are not related to your insurance policy, or they might not conduct a thorough investigation before making demands for proof.
Some insurance companies do such things in the hope that you will weary of their superfluous requests and give up seeking compensation: something to which you are susceptible in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
Of course, requests for proof of loss are often totally legitimate. In such cases, be sure to retain any paperwork that will help you prove the loss (e.g. receipts, invoices, photos, estimates, local news articles, etc.).
Take photos that show the damage from various angles; and make sure you take them before you make temporary repairs, which insurers usually want you to do ASAP to prevent further damage. (E.g. putting up tarps or nailing plywood over shattered windows).
It will reinforce your claim if you can include photos of your property that you incidentally took before the disaster for comparison with those taken after the storm. But remember that any insistence about “before photos” on the part of an insurance company can be a bogus issue raised to delay the process and wear you down.
8. What are pricing guidelines for Hurricane Ida damages?
Insurance companies use “pricing guidelines.” These are estimates of what it will cost to repair or replace your property after a hurricane or some other kind of natural disaster—under normal circumstances. But the cost of labor and materials usually inflates in the aftermath of a hurricane that destroys an entire city, town, or neighborhood.
Up to your policy limits, your insurance company is obligated to compensate you for the actual cost of your insured damages, not just what was predicted before the disaster ever happened.
For example, if your insurance company is pricing a new roof at $250 per square foot, but the market price in the aftermath of a devastating storm is $350, keep your receipts and demand the difference, including whatever the insurance company “held back” due to ACV rules.
Also, remember that it is not fair (and could be considered bad faith) for your insurance company to delay settlement in the hope that prices will stabilize—and they can get off more cheaply.
9. What are home-insurance damage exclusions?
Home-insurance damage exclusions are certain kinds of losses that your policy will not cover. I.e. if your house is damaged by something listed in the “exclusions” section of your policy, you cannot be reimbursed.
Home-insurance damage exclusions are enforceable—if you knowingly purchased a homeowner policy that includes them. But say you live near the Atlantic coastline, and you were sold a policy that has an exclusion for “high wind” or “hurricane” damage hidden in the small print—and left conveniently unmentioned by the insurance agent. In such a case, you would have a credible argument that the exclusion is unenforceable, and you should seek the help of a skilled hurricane-damage attorney.
10. What is an anti-concurrent causation clause?
Insurance companies are financially motivated to limit their payout to you after a hurricane. And one tactic at their disposal is something called an anti-concurrent causation clause, which is commonly found in homeowner policies—somewhere in the small print.
An anti-concurrent causation clause specifies that your insurance company will not pay for a covered event that happens at the same time as a non-covered one. For example, the insurance company will not pay for wind damage (which is covered) if it occurs simultaneously with one that is not covered (e.g. floodwaters).
If this sounds patently unfair and/or frankly weird to you, note that such clauses are illegal in some states, and in many cases, a skilled hurricane damage attorney can negotiate or disprove your qualification for an exclusion clause.
11. What can you do about a denied Hurricane Ida insurance claim?
You must deal with your insurance company strategically. If you have filed a claim for Hurricane Ida damages that has been denied, simply phoning your insurance company, and trying to persuade an insurance adjuster else-wise is probably not going to get you very far.
Remember, he or she is incented to save money for the insurance company, and can be quite skilled at getting you to say things that will devalue the credibility of your claim.
At Galindo Law, we have skilled attorneys who concentrate on assisting people with denied Hurricane Ida damage issues. They will protect the integrity of your damage claim and negotiate with insurance companies to get you the settlement you need and deserve.
12. How much does it cost to dispute a denied Hurricane Ida insurance claim?
Galindo Law does not charge any upfront or out-of-pocket fees. We are only paid a percentage of the settlement we are able to secure for you. So, by working with Galindo Law, you incur zero financial risk.
Remember: You are not asking for charity. You have paid to be insured. You deserve to be adequately compensated for covered damages.
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