Since a hurricane is generally accompanied by water, you might think that if you have hurricane insurance you will be covered, no matter the extent of the damage to your home (and no matter whether the damage is hurricane or flood damage). You might be very unpleasantly surprised to find this may not be true. If your home sustained damage from Hurricane Ida, you want to get the money you need and deserve from your insurance company.
If you find that your insurance is not covering the damage to your home, it is wise to speak to an experienced attorney from New Orleans Legal, LLC. Having an attorney in your corner can be the push your insurance company needs to do the right thing. You pay your insurance premiums as agreed, so now it’s time for your insurance company to do what it promised—pay for the damages to your home.
Download: 10 Steps To Take After Hurricane Property Damage
Wind (Hurricane) Loss Versus Flood Loss
Generally speaking, damage caused by wind, along with wind-driven rain that comes into your home through your roof, holes in the walls, doors, or windows will be covered by your homeowners insurance. Damage from flooding or water that rises from the bottom up is not covered. “From the bottom up,” means damage from flooding, or water that rises from the overflow of a body of water or a storm surge. This can be a very confusing distinction to homeowners.
Damage caused by flooding (water rising from the bottom up) is only covered if you have flood insurance, which is a separate policy. Wind damage is typically covered under your standard homeowners insurance policy. You must check your policy (before you need it), since some policies either partially or completely exclude wind damage. If you are in a hurricane-prone area—and your homeowners policy does not cover wind damage—you may need to add wind damage to your homeowners policy. This will incur a separate hurricane deductible that is higher than the deductible for your homeowner’s policy.
Determining the Cause of Property Damage After a Hurricane—Hurricane or Flood Damage?
Following a hurricane, it will be necessary to determine whether the damage was from a windstorm (hurricane), a flood, or something else. Was the specific damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, a storm surge, or flooding? Of course, the question arises as to whether a storm surge, resulting from a named hurricane, will be treated as a part of the named storm, or as a flood. The damage to your property may have been from both covered and non-covered causes.
Some courts use a proximate cause test that determines the dominant cause of the damage, then coverage will hinge on whether that cause is covered, or whether the covered cause sets a chain of events in motion. Some courts have found that when two causes produce a loss, there must be coverage so long as one of the causes was covered under your policy. Still other courts have ruled that the policyholder must differentiate the damage caused by covered and non-covered causes. If the policyholder is unable to determine what damage was caused by which cause, then there is no coverage.
In short, your insurance company will likely deny a claim if they do not think you are covered for the damage under your policy. If you do believe the damage is covered, you will have to prove that or work with an attorney who can prove it. Usually, the determination rests on the language of your policy.
Examples of Wind Damage
A Category 1 hurricane can have wind speeds up to 95 mph. This level of wind can tear branches off trees on your property and can pick objects in your yard up, slamming them into a window or wall. A Category 2 hurricane can have wind speeds up to 110 mph and can uproot trees with shallow root systems. A Category 3 hurricane can have wind speeds up to 129 mph and can take a roof off under certain circumstances, as well as uprooting trees with strong root systems.
A Category 4 hurricane can have wind speeds up to 156 mph and can destroy your roof, the walls of your home, and can uproot even very large trees. The strongest category of hurricanes is a Category 5 with wind speeds above 157 mph. A Category 5 hurricane can flatten entire homes and communities, destroying trees and power poles as well.
Examples of Water Damage
Floodwaters (water that comes from the bottom up) can cause damage to your home in many ways. Floodwaters can structurally damage your home in many ways, including:
- Loose or buckling floors
- Cracks in the foundation
- Frayed electrical wires
- Damage to appliances
- Damage to the heating and air conditioning system
- Mold and mildew
- Damaged or destroyed sheetrock or other wall coverings
- Damaged carpet
- Damage to septic and well water systems
How an Attorney from New Orleans Legal Can Assist You with Your Hurricane Damage Claims
Having your home damaged or destroyed from hurricane or flood damage is an extremely difficult, emotional experience. Following the hurricane and flooding, you may be struggling to get all the things done that must be done. If your insurance company is giving your trouble regarding your claim for damage to your home, your stress may increase exponentially. The experienced legal team at New Orleans Legal, LLC, is ready to help you get through this difficult time. We can deal with your insurance company, ensuring they pay you what your claim is worth. Do not wait—contact New Orleans Legal today.