Louisiana is still recovering from Hurricane Ida a year later
Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana on August 29, 2021, exactly 16 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and other parts of the state. Ida was the second most damaging and intense Louisiana hurricane on record, causing $75 billion in damage in the United States.
On the first anniversary of Hurricane Ida, many home and business owners are still struggling to recover. Tens of thousands of residents are without home insurance this hurricane season. Why? Seven Louisiana insurance companies disappeared or left the state due to claims last year, the majority of insurers no longer cover coastal areas and others would not renew their policies.
The situation is grim and worrying. Many home and business owners in Louisiana are still waiting for insurance proceeds to repair their properties and replace their belongings. Homeowners awaiting insurance payments have temporary repairs in place, such as tarps covering damaged roofs, and others are living away from their homes – homes that are uninhabitable a year later. About 10,000 caravans and temporary shelters housed people displaced by Hurricanes Ida and Laura in July.
It is unclear how long it will take for everyone affected by Hurricane Ida recover amid a collapsing insurance industry and with an increasing number of annual hurricanes. But if we look at Hurricane Katrina, the only storm stronger and more damaging than Ida, we know it could take years, even decades, to fully recover.
Hurricane Ida Insurance Claims Update
On August 1, 2022, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon released Hurricane Ida data. He announced that “insurers have paid or set aside to pay $13.1 billion for all types of claims related to Hurricane Ida in Louisiana.” As of June 30, there were more than 460,000 claims submitted by policyholders, and about 300,000 of them have been closed, with $9.8 billion paid. And this data does not include payments from the National Flood Insurance Program.
With so many Louisiana residents losing their home insurance policies, the state had to find a solution to the insurance crisis. Regional companies and a public insurer, Citizen’s Property Insurance Company, have stepped in to provide cover, but Citizen’s premiums are more expensive than those of private companies. To make matters worse, insurance rates have increased overall, as have wind and flood damage premiums.
All of these factors have left the people of Louisiana suffering even greater financial hardship as they have few options; they must pay what is demanded or risk permanently losing their home or business after another hurricane hits, a certainty in the coastal state.
A positive step was the introduction of new legislation passed earlier this year requiring insurance companies to have more capital. This was necessary after insurers faced claims from Hurricane Ida far beyond what they had available to cover the damage.
For policyholders who received insurance payments but were impacted by inflation, faced increased repair costs, or discovered additional damage during repairs, an additional claim may be filed. In these cases, document the damage with photos and video before having repairs made and keep copies of estimates and receipts. This proof is required by insurers to respond to additional claims.
Another option when dealing with insurance companies disputing claims is mediation. Recently, Louisiana Hurricane Ida Mediation Program has been extended through December 31, 2022. It helps owners and insurers who have been unable to settle claims up to $50,000 to do so for a flat $600 mediation fee. You can also file a complaint with the Louisiana Department of Insurance at 1-800-259-5300 if your insurer isn’t paying.
However, even when an insured takes the necessary steps to document and prove hurricane damage or pursues mediation, this does not guarantee full payment. If your insurance company is acting in bad faith by refusing to pay the amount owed to you or has denied your claim, consult a hurricane damage lawyer. The Herman, Herman & Katz team in Louisiana has helped thousands of clients hold their insurers accountable.
When and How to File a Louisiana Hurricane Damage Claim
Under Louisiana law, hurricane claims have a statute of limitations. You must submit an insurance claim no more than 180 days after a hurricane. Some exceptions exist, such as when authorities deny access to an owner’s property for security reasons. The sooner you submit your application, the better.
When making a claim for hurricane damage, policyholders must provide proof of loss to be covered for hurricane damage. Proof of loss includes photos and videos of damage inside and outside a home or business. Insurance companies compare this visual evidence to photos and videos taken before the storm hit.
Another proof of loss includes listing everything damaged or destroyed by the hurricane, including property values. Obtain repair estimates from contractors and keep receipts for cleaning costs.
Home and business owners should also mitigate property damage following a hurricane because Louisiana insurance companies will not cover losses after a storm if they could have been avoided. For example, close broken windows or put a tarp over a damaged roof, as long as it is safe. Take photos and keep receipts of temporary repairs as proof of your efforts. All of the evidence collected and actions taken to mitigate damage help prevent insurance companies from denying hurricane claims.
Legal Options for Hurricane Damage Claims
Unfortunately, many insurance companies acted in bad faith by denying Hurricane Ida claims or paying only a portion of what is owed to the insured. Without these payments, it may be impossible to recover. When this happens, it is important to consult a hurricane damage attorney. Even if you pursue mediation for your Hurricane Ida claim, an attorney can protect your best interests and ensure that your legal rights are upheld.
If you can’t reach an agreement with your insurance company after a natural disaster like Hurricane Ida, you also have the right to file a claim for damage caused by the hurricane. The action must be brought within 24 months of the date of the damage. This two-year window is separate from the 180 days during which you must submit proof of hurricane loss. As we enter the second year of recovery from Hurricane Ida, keep this in mind if you are still having difficulty with your insurance company.
Be Prepared for Hurricanes in Louisiana
Hurricane season got off to a slow start, but every Louisiana resident and business owner should be prepared for a hurricane. There has been a steady increase in the number of hurricanes, but also in their intensity. In turn, recovery costs have also increased.
Preparing for a hurricane involves keeping an emergency kit handy and mitigating property damage in advance, such as securing outdoor objects that could become hazardous debris during a storm. Have copies and gather important documents and identification, and have shelter addresses and directions mapped out in case an evacuation order is issued.
Make sure you have adequate home and business insurance and know your policy inside and out. You will need to purchase additional flood insurance, as standard home insurance policies do not cover this type of damage. Additional wind insurance is also worth taking out. And if a hurricane damages your property, inventory, or personal items, know what to do after a storm passes to prevent further damage, as well as how to file a hurricane insurance claim.
If you’re having trouble with your insurance company or are still waiting for insurance claims to be paid, the hurricane damage attorneys at Herman, Herman & Katz can help. Contact us online or call 1-844-943-7626 for a free consultation.