If your home or business was damaged as a result of Laura, Marco, or any of the storms during the 2020 hurricane season, it’s important to fully understand your rights while preparing to file a claim. Balancing the challenges of getting your life back to normal and facing insurance difficulties can be overwhelming. At the BFH Law Group, our hurricane damage attorneys are here to help.
2020 Hurricane Claims: Laura & Beyond
Anyone who lives on the Gulf Coast knows that hurricanes and tropical storms are inevitable, but 2020 has hit the southern U.S. particularly hard. With 24 named storms and 2 major hurricanes, only 2005’s season has caused more damage. Hurricane Laura hit the Louisiana coast as a category four storm on August 27, bringing winds over 120 miles per hour and leaving over a million people without power. What’s even more scary is that the season is not over. Tropical Storm Beta bringing more danger to the Texas coast.
Starting the Hurricane Damage Claims Process
Feeling overwhelmed after a hurricane is normal. But there are a few things that you should do as soon as possible to support your insurance claim.
Documenting the Damage
Create a list of all damaged property, and if you can, take pictures. Use either your smartphone or another camera to document the scene. Take as many photos and video clips of the damage as you safely can. This includes any damage to the house, surrounding areas, sheds or garages, and any other personal property. If the damaged property is a business, the same suggestions apply.
In the aftermath of a huge storm, you may or may not be able to access your house due to evacuation orders. As soon as it’s safe, take a few minutes to board up doors and windows, and place a tarp over exposed roof patches and other damaged areas. Some insurance companies may try to reduce their payment or deny coverage by asserting that the damage happened after the fact. Protecting your property from further damage can help preserve your rights.
Review Your Insurance Policy
Refamiliarize yourself with the basics of any applicable insurance policies. It can tell you what kind of documentation the insurance company will want, and allow you to match up any images or other information you have with specific policy language. This will make it harder for them to deny or drag out your claim. It also gives you the opportunity to seek legal help. If you are unsure of what certain policy language means, you may want advice before pursuing a claim.
What Does My Insurance Cover?
Even the best homeowners insurance won’t pay for every kind of hurricane damage. Thus, you may need two or more policies to cover the majority of your losses. If you live in hurricane territory, it is important to know what your policies will and won’t cover. Depending on what state you live in, you may need additional insurance, such as windstorm and flood policies.
The big destructive forces in hurricanes and tropical storms are wind and water. No matter what state you live in, your homeowners insurance policy will not cover flooding, including water from a storm surge.
Flood insurance is vital for all homeowners in storm-prone areas. In addition, residents in some hurricane-prone states may find that their homeowners policy won’t pay for wind damage. If you live in one of these states, consider buying a windstorm policy as well.
Commonly Covered Hurricane Damage
A standard homeowners policy will cover a lot of the damage caused by hurricanes.Some commonly covered losses include:
- Roof damage;
- Broken windows;
- Damaged doors, including garage doors;
- Personal property;
- Home contents, including furniture and appliances;
- Structural damage to the home;
- Debris removal; and
- Temporary living expenses.
If you live in a vulnerable area, you may have the option of adding water backup coverage to protect your home and personal belongings. This is helpful if sewage water backs up into your home. You can usually add it as an endorsement to your policy. Remember that a homeowners policy does not cover flood damage, and in some states, windstorm damage.
What If My Business Suffered Hurricane Damage?
If you have business insurance coverage, it will generally cover damage to your commercial buildings as well as any lost product or stock from the storm. You may also be eligible for business interruption coverage, which will allow you to cover some costs while you file claims and get your business back up and running.
Commercial policies may cover some of the same losses as a homeowners policy, but they are still different. It is often a good idea to have a lawyer go through your policy and explain your rights.
What If My Claim for Hurricane Damage Is Denied?
If your claim for hurricane losses on your homeowners, flood, windstorm, or other related policy is denied, you may still have legal options. If an insurance company is unnecessarily delaying, denying, or underpaying a claim, you may need an experienced attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve.
At the John’s Law Firm, our experienced hurricane damage lawyers are here to help and can help with residential and commercial claims disputes. We can show you how to navigate your policy and represent you in negotiations with the insurance company.
We have offices in New Orleans and Houston, and our attorneys are licensed in five different states. To learn more about what legal options you might have, call us at 866-544-1596 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.