Avoid These Top 9 Mistakes When Making a Hurricane Claim in Louisiana

Being involved in a severe storm like a hurricane can be quite disconcerting on many levels. Feeling panicked and unsure of what you should do both before and after the storm is normal. However, it’s imperative that you avoid several mistakes regarding your hurricane damage insurance claim. Failing to take specific actions could jeopardize your insurance claim and ultimately risk getting the compensation you deserve for your hurricane claim in Louisiana. 

1. Underestimating the Hurricane

Pay attention to local weather reports and what the hurricane is expected to do. What category is it? How high are the winds expected to be? Take these reports seriously and act accordingly. Don’t assume the meteorologists are wrong or that the hurricane will change course. 

2. Failing to Prepare Your Property 

You should pre-emptively take steps to protect your property, such as boarding up windows. Ensure all of your doors and windows are closed and secure. Keep in mind that internal pressure inside your home, combined with external wind force, has the potential to cause your roof to blow off. If time allows, you might also want to consider making home improvements such as adding storm shutters, reinforcing your garage doors, or installing hurricane anchors and roof clips. If you have exterior furniture or decorations, bring them inside so that they don’t potentially cause damage to the exterior of your property.

These steps not only protect your home but also show the insurance company that you have made a good faith effort to prevent as much damage as you can from the hurricane. It can also decrease the hassle you might need to go through to get your property repaired and your insurance company to pay your hurricane claim.

3. Not Notifying Homeowner’s Insurance Company Before the Storm or Not Purchasing Homeowners Insurance in the First Place

If a hurricane is potentially headed your way, now is the time to ensure you have homeowner’s insurance that will cover hurricane damage. You may even want to call your insurance company to give them a heads up that you are in the path of a potential hurricane. They should be able to tell you what to do when you need to file a hurricane insurance claim, such as what numbers to call or what forms or evidence you will need. 

4. Failing to Adequately Document the Hurricane Damage

Documentation is crucial both before and after a hurricane. All homeowners should document their property and possessions before any damage so that they have a record of what they own and its condition and value. Be sure to:

  • Draft and update a running possession inventory 
  • Add some pictures and videos as proof to support your inventory
  • Take additional pictures after the hurricane or other storm to show how they have been damaged

5. Talking to the Insurance Agency Without Legal Representation and Accepting the First Settlement Offer

Having an attorney on your side (such as McClenny Moseley & Associates PLLC Insurance Lawyers) is also essential before talking with the insurance company. Your attorney can help protect your rights and prevent you from saying something innocent that might harm your claim. In addition, your attorney will have a good idea of how much your claim is worth. You also never want to accept a first settlement offer from the insurance company as it is more than likely an extremely low offer. 

6. Failing to File Your Hurricane Claim in Louisiana at the Right Time

One of the most common mistakes homeowners make after a hurricane is not immediately filing a claim with their homeowner’s insurance company. Many homeowners who filed a hurricane Ida claim learned this the hard way.

Some insurance policies have strict deadlines for filing these types of claims—for example, as little as between a few days and a few months. Suppose you don’t file your claim within the contractually allotted deadline. In that case, the insurance company, unfortunately, has good standing to deny it. 

It’s also in your best interest to file a claim right away because the scene can change. Think of your home as a crime scene after a hurricane. The more time passes, the more things can change that potentially reduce your ability to receive adequate compensation for your claim. For example, your insurance company could try to argue that hurricane-related damages happened after the hurricane and are related to something else. The sooner you report it, the sooner your insurance company has a record of it, and the sooner they can get a claims adjuster out to assess the damages. 

7. Not Mitigating the Hurricane’s Damages Until the Insurance Representative’s Inspection

After you have reported your claim, it’s also your responsibility to prevent any further damage to your property. Don’t wait until the insurance adjuster comes for an inspection, do it as soon as possible. This might mean turning off the water or electricity to your home or using tarps or boards to protect areas of your home. Do whatever you can to protect your home. If you don’t, and it suffers further damage, your insurance company could refuse to pay for the additional damage. 

8. Hiring an Unlicensed Contractor 

You must be sure that the contractor you hire to repair the damages to your home is licensed to do the type of work you need to be done in your state. Hiring a licensed contractor is imperative because:

  • They have insurance
  • It decreases the chances that you are being scammed
  • Unlicensed contractors can have criminal records, putting you, your home, and your family at risk
  • Unlicensed contractors may not comply with local applicable building codes

While hiring an unlicensed contractor might save you some money, it’s certainly not worth it. Doing so could end up costing you a lot.

9. Failing to Hire a Storm Damage Attorney to Represent You 

On average, homeowner’s insurance hurricane claimants receive more money for their hurricane claim in Louisiana if they have legal representation. An experienced storm damage insurance attorney (such as McClenny Moseley & Associates PLLC Insurance Lawyers) can negotiate a fair settlement to help you receive the funds you deserve to repair your home. However, many homeowners steer clear of hiring an attorney because of the misconception that they need money to do so. What they don’t but should know is that most of these attorneys only work on contingency fees, which means they don’t get paid unless you receive money for your claim. They get a pre-determined percentage for their services if and when you obtain a settlement or award.

Even if you don’t think hiring an attorney (such as McClenny Moseley & Associates PLLC Insurance Lawyers) is necessary, it never hurts to have a professional advocate on your side who can look over your claim and ensure your insurance carrier treats you fairly under the law.

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