On August 27th, Louisiana and eastern Texas were once again visited by a monstrous tropical cyclone from the Gulf, the likes of which had not matched strength as a Category 4 in southwest Louisiana since 1856. Hurricane Laura made peak landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, decimating a path from the coast northward, centralized through the states of Louisiana and Arkansas before graduating eastward across the U.S. The devastation on impact was catastrophic, as 150 mph winds and 127 mph wind gusts ravaged the coast. Hurricane Laura also spawned 16 tornadoes in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, so you can imagine the widespread storm damage. Laura’s impact caused the death of 71 people and overall could reach up to $12 billion in property damages.
Many Louisiana and Texas home and business owners could be facing another unexpected blow in the aftermath – and where they least expect it. In attempts to recover and rebuild, property owners submit claims for their damages and loss. What many could come to learn, is that their insurance company is not as sympathetic to their cause, and could either delay their payments, reduce the amount they payout, or outright exclude and deny coverages (known as bad faith claims). With so much destruction and loss, it is not uncommon for an insurance company to try and protect their own interests, making it harder for property owners to get their fair compensation. We pray that this is not the case as millions of people try to rebuild their lives, but we have seen it happen, more common than it should.
Here are some helpful tips on recovering your losses from Hurricane Laura:
Take Photos & Document Everything Pictures speak a thousand words, and they are also hard to dispute in a hurricane damage claim. One of the best things you can do is take the time to document and photograph all damages to your property. Create a “hurricane damage” photo album on your phone and be your own journalist, which will visually tell a story of the storm’s impact on your home or business. This can be the exterior of your property, as well as the interior in many cases. Also create an inventory list of items that were damaged, as these things can be later used as proof as to the extent of your damages. Check out our Post-Storm Checklist for common items that insurance adjusters miss in their evaluations.
File Your Claim Make sure to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as you can. There can be deadlines for filing a claim depending on the insurance carrier, so it is best to get the ball rolling in the days just following the hurricane. Naturally, there is a process involved in any property damage claim and you can expect the insurance company to send an adjuster out to your home to evaluate your damages. Although you will find the adjuster can be as friendly as they come, it is important to remember that they work for the insurance company – and not for you.
Understand Your Insurance Policy After you have documented your damages, take the time to understand your insurance policy, specifically regarding hurricane damages. Read through your coverage and get an idea of what you might expect in an insurance claim. This is not always easily done, as some insurance policies can often be extremely vague in what they cover or exclude and are often purposely written that way. If you find that you are having trouble understanding your policy, it is free and easy to contact a personal injury attorney to review it with you.
Consult with an Attorney Many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning you have no upfront costs and only pay a fee if your case wins. Take advantage of that offer and have your questions answered. Experienced hurricane attorneys understand the loopholes, pitfalls, and obstacles that are common among insurance companies. They speak their language. Having legal guidance can keep you stay mindful of bad faith warning signs, as well as help you be assured that you are getting all you deserve from your insurance claim.
There are things you can pay attention to now, as well as look for in the future, with your hurricane insurance claims. Even if you have already received your settlement, it is not too late. You might not be getting all you deserve and there is free legal advice out there to take advantage of. Reach out to our team at Galindo Law if you have any questions about your insurance claim, policy, or the amount in benefits you received from your insurance company. We are experts at defending your rights and challenging bad faith claims. Call us at 888-808-1808.