Maximizing Compensation for Natural Disaster Victims: A Las Vegas Insurance Attorney’s Role

When a natural disaster strikes, you count on your insurance company for help. You may find out that your insurance company, to which you may have been paying premiums for years, is either denying your claim or offering little in the way of compensation. The fact is that the business model for insurance companies involves paying out as little as possible for claims. In addition, several types of natural disasters are not covered by a typical homeowner or business insurance policy.

Leverty & Associates offers insurance attorney services for victims of natural disasters. We fight so that you may receive the maximum compensation for the damage to your property.

Know Your Coverage

Most people do not read their insurance policies thoroughly. It is not the most stimulating reading in the world, so you may rely on the synopsis provided by your insurance agent. It is vital to know ahead of time exactly what is and is not covered in your insurance policy. Finding out after the fact that you are not covered in the face of a natural disaster leaves you with few alternatives.

Most homeowner’s policies do cover damage caused by the following events:

  • Wind
  • Hail
  • Extreme cold
  • Lightning strikes
  • Tornadoes
  • Wildfires

If you reside in a coastal area, your policy may not cover wind damage. This is not an issue in Las Vegas. In a truly worst-case scenario, nuclear disasters are not covered by homeowners’ insurance.

Nevada Natural Disasters

According to the State of Nevada Joint Information Center, the top potential natural disasters facing the state include:

  • Earthquakes
  • Floods
  • Wildland Fires
  • Drought
  • Hazardous Chemical Release

Earthquake Insurance

Nevada has the dubious distinction of ranking third nationwide for major earthquakes, just behind Alaska and California. Your homeowner’s policy will not cover earthquake damage. For that, you need to purchase earthquake insurance. Some insurance companies in Nevada offer earthquake coverage as an underlying endorsement of the policy.

Las Vegas is all about playing the odds. The odds of an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.0 or more hitting Las Vegas in the next 50 years is between 15 and 40 percent. The odds for Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Carson City during that same period are between 90 and 100 percent.

Keep in mind that Wells had just a 9 percent chance of experiencing a major earthquake, but that is just what happened when it was struck by a 6.3 magnitude quake back in 2008.

Earthquake Insurance Coverage

Earthquake coverage generally extends to related earth-moving events due to the quake, such as landslides, mudflow, and the earth’s settlement or contraction. It does not cover damage to your vehicles. It does not matter that your car is parked in the garage when the earthquake struck–it is still excluded. It will not cover any related flooding damage due to the earthquake. For that, you must have flood insurance.

If your home features a masonry veneer, such as brick or stone, make sure your earthquake policy covers repairs. Earthquake insurance will cover damage to your dwelling or accessory structures but not your yard. If a sinkhole appears after an earthquake, you are generally on the hook for remedying the situation.

In Nevada, earthquake insurance ranges from a few hundred dollars annually to about $1,000. Expect to pay a higher premium if your area has a history of earthquakes or if your home is older. Older homes are not generally constructed to withstand as much earthquake damage as newer dwellings. The type of construction and foundation are other factors when it comes to earthquake insurance premium costs.

Flood Insurance

A standard homeowner or commercial policy does not cover damage to a home or property due to flooding. It is possible to purchase flood insurance separately via the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Since Nevada’s climate is dry, many people do not worry about flooding potential. That may prove a costly mistake. Without flood insurance, the best you can expect, even if your location is declared a federal disaster area, is a low-interest loan.

Heavy rains and flash floods cause flooding in Nevada every year. The rapid development Las Vegas has experienced in recent years means that new development can change winter snow’s natural drainage come to a spring thaw. When another natural disaster strikes, such as fire, flooding may follow in the near future. That is because fire destroys vegetation, making the surrounding areas more susceptible to mudslides and floods.

One drawback of the NFIP is that a standard policy covers only $250,000 in structural damage. For an additional premium, you can buy contents coverage of up to $100,000 for items damaged in a flood. Reimbursement is also subject to depreciation deductions.

Private flood insurers are another option for Las Vegas homeowners and businesses. Because flooding is less common in Nevada than in many other regions, private insurers may offer better rates than the NFIP. There is a caveat. Homes in high-risk areas will pay much more for flood insurance from a private insurer than with the NFIP.

Government Assistance

When natural disasters strike, government agencies on the local, state, and federal levels are at the forefront of relief efforts. Non-profit organizations also play an important role in providing services to communities in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Take advantage of these programs if you need them. That is especially true if your house is uninhabitable, and you need temporary living quarters or meals.

Maximizing Compensation

Maximize your compensation when struck by a natural disaster by preparing ahead of time. At Leverty & Associates, we will review your current policies and determine where your coverage is lacking. We will recommend the type of coverage you need to purchase in order to protect yourself if the worst happens.

What to Do after a Natural Disaster

If you are a victim of a natural disaster, assess the damage done as soon as possible and file a claim. Take extensive photos and document all damage and losses to the best of your ability. If necessary, you may have to make temporary repairs to make your home habitable while waiting for the claims adjuster.

If your insurance company denies your claim or lowballs the amount it will pay for repairs, do not hesitate to obtain legal counsel in the form of insurance attorney services. Negotiating with the insurance company on your own is often an exercise in frustration. Your attorney will take over negotiations and deal with the insurance company on your behalf.

Contact a Las Vegas Insurance Attorney

If you were a victim of a natural disaster, contact Insurance Attorney Services at Leverty & Associates today.

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