Hurricane Damage Claims Attorney: Peter Diiorio
If you have endured a hurricane in New Orleans, you are familiar with the anxiety and stress that comes in the aftermath. If you then have had to deal with an insurance company, such as Allstate, State Farm or Wright Insurance Company, that refuses to pay your claim or offers you far less than the claim is worth, it could be time for you to speak to a hurricane damage claims attorney. Having an experienced hurricane damage claims attorney by your side can take a significant burden from your shoulders. When Peter Diiorio of New Orleans Legal, LLC, handles your hurricane claim, you can deal with the many things facing you without worrying about whether your claim will be paid.
Will My Hurricane Damage Be Covered by My Homeowner’s Insurance or Flood Insurance?
It is important that you know exactly what your homeowner’s insurance covers—and what it doesn’t—before you actually need the coverage. A “standard” homeowner’s insurance policy will usually cover repair costs from damages resulting from natural disasters, but there are exceptions. The flooding caused by storm surges and hurricanes are usually excluded in a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. Because of this, those living in an area that is prone to hurricanes should definitely consider purchasing an endorsement or separate policy that covers flood damage.
You should be able to purchase flood insurance from your agent through the National Flood Insurance Program, managed by FEMA. This flood insurance is available to all homeowners living in one of the NFIP-participating communities. NFIP flood insurance provides a maximum coverage of $250,000 for property damage and $100,000 for contents, although property and contents coverage are generally purchased separately, even though they are on the same policy. The average flood insurance policy costs around $700 per year. If you have a federally regulated or insured lender for your mortgage, they may require flood insurance.
Flood insurance pays actual cash value to replace the damaged or lost property, but remember, this is based on actual, depreciated value. Property flood insurance usually covers at least 80 percent of the full replacement cost of your home, or the maximum available under NFIP. For flood insurance to pay, the water must have come from outside your home rather than from a burst pipe inside. Further, to be considered a “flood,” the water that causes the damage to your home must have covered at least two acres or have affected at least one other property. Any mold or mildew damage the insurance company believes you could have reasonably prevented will not be covered.
How Do I Start the Hurricane Claims Process?
If your home was damaged by a hurricane, you will naturally want to start the insurance claims process as quickly as possible. First, you will notify your insurer that you need to file a claim. When you call the insurance company ask about how long it will take for an adjuster to look at your home and assess the damage. If you have homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, and windstorm insurance from different insurers, they must all be notified.
If you need emergency service for removing flood waters or repairing damaged electrical lines, tell your insurer. They may send out a company to take care of these urgent matters. Make sure you save all receipts associated with hurricane repairs so you can request reimbursement. Make sure your hurricane damage is fully documented, via photographs or videos. Include damage to interior and exterior, along with your belongings and vehicles. If you happen to have an inventory list of the things inside your home, great! If not, sit down and do your best to remember items in your home, writing down all the damaged items. If there are holes in your roof, or the windows were blown out, cover up with tarps. Do not, however, throw away any damaged items until your insurance adjuster has been to your home.
What Will the Hurricane Claims Process Entail?
Start a hurricane claim file, with copies of all claim forms and receipts. In this file, fully document the date, name, and contact information of everyone you speak to on the phone regarding your claim, as well as a summary of what was discussed. An insurance adjuster will be sent to your home to assess the damage, collecting any receipts, records, home inventories, or photographs from you. Some insurers will provide an advance check that will allow you to begin the repairs on your home. This advance check will be deducted from your total claim payment amount.
While your insurer may recommend specific contractors, you are free to get other estimates. Once you have all the estimates and decide on a contractor to repair your hurricane damage your insurance adjuster must approve the total cost. Watch out for fraud when choosing a contractor. In particular, if you receive unsolicited offers from contractors offering to fix your damage immediately, beware.
Often, these are con artists who will ask for payment upfront—then you will never see them again. You will likely have to wait for a reputable contractor to fix your home. If your home is too damaged to live in, be sure to save receipts for hotels, restaurants, and other costs you incur while waiting for the repairs to your home.
If you are satisfied with the offer from your insurer, you will accept the check. In some cases, the check will be paid directly to the contractor, but make sure you are happy with the work before the contractor is paid. If you happen to discover more damage later on, do not hesitate to reopen your claim. You generally have up to a year after the damage occurred to file additional claims. If you are not satisfied with the settlement offer, consider contacting an experienced hurricane damage claims attorney.
Why Do I Need a New Orleans, LA Hurricane Damage Claims Attorney?
Many victims of hurricane damage do not know how to determine the full extent of their losses following a hurricane or may not fully understand their rights. Most of us believe our insurance company will treat us fairly—after all, we’ve been paying our premiums every month, often for years and years. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Insurance companies are always focused on their financial bottom line. Because of this, your claim could be denied, or you could be offered an amount that simply will not repair the damage to your home. Having an experienced hurricane damage claims attorney from New Orleans Legal, LLC, is the best way to ensure your rights and your future are fully protected.
What if My Hurricane Claim is Denied?
If your hurricane claim is denied, it would greatly benefit you to immediately contact a knowledgeable hurricane damages claims attorney. Insurance companies tend to be more respectful of a legal professional than an average homeowner because they know the attorney cannot be pushed around or led to believe something that simply isn’t true. Getting an attorney on board as quickly as possible is the best course of action if you want to ensure you receive an equitable settlement for your hurricane damage.
FAQ: Why Was My Hurricane Damage Claim Denied?
How Long Could My New Orleans, LA Hurricane Claim Take?
Unfortunately, if you are filing a hurricane damage claim it is likely that many others in your area are doing the same. Because of this, the process is slowed considerably and can take months, or even years, particularly if you object to the payment offered as being too low. Do not let this deter you—it is far better to allow a knowledgeable attorney to secure a fair settlement on your behalf even if it takes a bit longer.
How Can the Hurricane Damage Claims Attorneys of New Orleans Legal Help?
At New Orleans Legal, LLC, we help people who are in need. Following a hurricane that damages your home you are likely anxious and afraid for your future and that of your family. You may be dealing with an insurance company who either does not want to pay your claim at all or has offered a settlement that will not cover your damages. We understand how you feel and want to take that burden from your shoulders. You have many other things you need to concentrate on right now—let us handle the legal aspect of your hurricane claim. Contact New Orleans Legal, LLC today for solid legal assistance at a time when you most need it.