Hurricane season in New Orleans has always been fraught with issues. Many residents of the area are unaware the Flood Control Act of 1965 came about primarily as a result of Hurricane Betsy which left a wake of devastation across the New Orleans area. Despite this landmark legislation, today, New Orleans continues to suffer a battering when tropical storms hit the area. This often leaves businesses and homeowners wondering just how to recover their losses.
Filing an Insurance Claim Following a Hurricane
Most business owners and homeowners heed the warnings of Louisiana’s emergency management system and the weather forecasters in the area and take measures to protect their property from the worst of the storm. Unfortunately, it never seems to matter how many precautions one takes, there is still damage left behind.
Before you file your insurance claim, review your policy. Business interruption insurance and property loss insurance often have exclusions attached to them. Before you start preparing the documentation you need to file a claim, speak with an attorney who has experience handling insurance claims. Once you have spoken with an attorney and you understand what restrictions there are, you can take the following steps:
- Protect from further damage – one of the most important things a property owner can do is to ensure they do not suffer additional damage following a storm. Preventing your property from further damage may require an owner to replace boards, cover the property in tarps to prevent further water damage, and making sure electrical systems are protected from fire.
- Fully document all damage – photographs matter when filing an insurance claim. Whenever possible, go inside the property and document all damage including to your HVAC systems, furniture, and other contents of your property. Make sure you also document any exterior damage including broken windows, damage to the yard, etc.
- Inventory damaged items – furniture, computers, lost paperwork, supplies etc. should be carefully inventoried so when you make an insurance claim you know what your total losses are.
- Determine repair time – chances are you will be forced to keep your business closed until full repairs are made to the property. Get a few estimates on the costs of repair and the time necessary to complete the repairs.
- Filing your claim – as soon as you have a complete record of damage, file your claim with your insurance carrier. Once your claim has been filed, the insurance company has an obligation to act quickly.
Insurance Company Denials, Delays and Low Offers
There is little doubt your insurance company was anticipating a claim if you live in New Orleans and have just lived through another one of the annual hurricanes which have ravaged the area. Those businesses who have business interruption insurance, and those who have property insurance have probably already filed their claims. Insurance company adjusters have probably already started to figure out ways to deny claims (your policy does not cover acts of nature), delay your claim (need to verify value of claim), or make a low offer (leaving out portions of your claim). In these instances, you will need to speak with a lawyer who has experience dealing with these tactics.
You expect your insurance company to treat you fairly. After all, you pay your premiums on time, and you file a claim only when there is a serious problem with your business. When your insurance adjuster ignores you, denies your claim, or offers you less than your losses, you need someone to advocate for you to make sure you have the opportunity to recover financially.
Business Interruption Coverage
Many business owners carry business interruption coverage in addition to liability coverage. This coverage is designed to protect you from specific business losses including lost income, and expenses which may be associated with having to move to a new location. However, business interruption coverage does not cover any losses and you must take appropriate steps to mitigate losses.
Understanding Your Insurance Policy
One of the challenges many business owners have is not understanding what coverage they have under their existing policies. Having an attorney who has experience reviewing insurance policies is helpful because it will provide you with a better understanding of what coverage you have, and what items are covered as part of their existing policies. In some instances, this may be a good time to review your existing policy and see if it should be updated to minimize your potential losses in the future.
We have experience dealing with the devastation caused by storms. In fact, since 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we have successfully recovered millions of dollars for property owners who have suffered storm-related losses.
Work With An Experienced Law Firm
As a business owner who has suffered a property or income loss due to a hurricane or other storm-season related losses, you need help. At Alvendia Kelly & Demarest, we take pride in our ability to help you navigate the complexities of insurance claims which have been denied, delayed, or when your insurance company refuses to accept the value of your claim.
When you are feeling like no one cares whether your business is financially stable you should know we are here to help. We take an aggressive approach to representing business owners who are suffering financial losses due to weather-related issues. We will work tirelessly to make sure insurance companies treat you fairly.
If you have suffered property loss, or losses because your normal business has been disrupted by the ongoing hurricane threats in New Orleans, contact Alvendia, Kelly & Demarest today and let us help you get the compensation your insurance company should be paying you. The sooner you contact us, the faster you can get your business operations back to normal. You focus on rebuilding your business and let us worry about dealing with any insurance company who is not treating you fairly. You have several options, you can call us at 504-200-0000 or fill out our online contact form today and talk to one of our experienced insurance recovery attorneys.