Tuesday, September 18, 2012
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT INSURANCE
In the case of a disaster, what should the affected individual do first?
In case of a disaster, affected individual’s priority is personal safety. He or she should do whatever is necessary to keep them and their family out of harm’s way, such as heeding all evacuation orders. Take an inventory of possessions before the storm. The affected individual’s second priority is to take reasonable steps to protect and repair his or her property from further damage. If supplies are purchased to protect and repair the property, the affected individual should keep receipts as these expenses may be reimbursable from their respective insurance company. The affected individual should take pictures and list all the damages to property, both exterior and interior.
What steps does the individual take to begin cleaning up the property?
Make sure the structure is not in danger of collapsing
Make sure the electricity is turned off and do not attempt to turn on any electrical lights or appliances until an electrician has checked your system
Hurricane damages generally falls under what policy?
Hurricane damage is covered if the hazard (wind, flood, fire etc.) that causes damage is covered under an insured’s policy. Wind damage can be covered by a homeowner or, if there is a separate policy, by your wind and hail insurer. Flood is usually covered by a flood policy that is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Do we need a letter of denial in order for FEMA to help out?
Yes. Applicants with insurance coverage will receive a denial notification until they provide FEMA a copy of the insurance settlement before a grant application can be processed for any essential unmet needs that may remain after their insurance settlement. The grants for those unmet needs are not intended to cover all of their remaining repair expenses. It is designed to assist with temporary housing and emergency home repairs to make the home habitable, or for serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance. Applicants may call the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362 with questions and to get additional information on their application and on how to submit any required documents. The sooner the documents are submitted, the sooner we can address their unmet needs.
I called my insurance company today to inquire about reimbursements for evacuating and was told since a mandatory evacuation ordered we cannot recoup any money from them due to the evacuation. What steps can be taken to recoup that money?
Additional Living Expense coverage provided by your homeowner policy is triggered by a covered hazard (fire for example) or by Civil Authority (mandatory evacuation). Any recoupment of this type of expense not covered by insurance may be available from FEMA.
What is the average time for an adjuster to make it out to a home to do an assessment after a disaster?
The Louisiana Department of Insurance does not track the time it takes an adjuster to inspect property after a loss. In the case of a catastrophic loss, the insurer shall initiate loss adjustment of a property damage claim within thirty days after notification of loss by the claimant. For losses that are not considered catastrophic losses, the insurer shall initiate loss adjustment of a property damage claim within fourteen days after notification of loss by the claimant. The time this will take depends on the severity of damage in your area.
What steps can we take if we are not happy with an adjuster’s estimation
If you are not happy with a damage estimate, you can ask for another adjuster to inspect the property or you can ask to visit with the adjuster’s supervisor. If available an insured can also use the appraisal clause in their policy. An insured can always file a complaint with the Louisiana Department of Insurance.
Can we hire an independent adjuster?
Independent adjusters are hired by insurance companies oftentimes, to help a company after a disaster. A public adjuster is hired by the insured to assist with their claim. Public adjusters charge a fee for their services.
What are the steps to take with your insurance company if your vehicle flooded?
If your vehicle is flooded, coverage is provided if you have purchased comprehensive coverage for your vehicle. Comprehensive coverage usually covers wind or flood damage. If you have just liability coverage your vehicle is not covered. Report the loss to your insurance company as soon as practical and/or possible.
Does the insurance company need to see the trash pile in front of our house in order to make a claim?
Insurance companies need documentation of damages such as pictures and proof of property loss such as receipts to properly adjust a claim. Take plenty of pictures before throwing out items. The adjusters do not have to see the actual materials if pictures are taken.
How should we document the damage for the insurance company?
Photos and video are good ways to document losses. Ideally, and going forward, personal property is best documented prior to a loss. Many companies and agencies offer home inventory lists and there are now apps for smart phones that provide this service. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a free app that can be downloaded to facilitate a home inventory.
Should we write down serial numbers of our property?
If you have recorded serial numbers for your possessions, these numbers should be provided to your insurance adjuster.
Should we take preventative measures against further damage, or not touch anything until after the adjuster has completed the assessment?
As mentioned above, homeowners should take preventive measures to protect their property from further loss. Keep receipts of any expenditure for such preventive measures as these may be reimbursable. If you make temporary repairs, keep a list of all work done and save receipts for all materials used.
How soon does the insurance have to pay the money it owes for the repairs to your property?
Sometimes you will receive a check quickly. However, an insurance company has up to 30 days to pay a claim after giving proof of loss.
For other information please contact the Louisiana Department of Insurance at (225) 342-5900 or 1-800-259-5300, or visit http://ldi.louisiana.gov/.