BATON ROUGE, LA. (BRPROUD) – As people begin to report their damages from Hurricane Ida to their insurance companies there are many questions over what is covered and how to get the most out of a policy.
Currently, the immediate need from insurance companies is to cover temporary housing as many evacuated ahead of Hurricane Ida. President Joe Biden has pressed insurance agencies not to deny coverage through fine print details such as mandatory vs. voluntary evacuation orders.
“I have been urging insurers to not be restrictive on payment of those 14 days max of additional living expense,” Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said.
So far, Allstate, USAA, PURE, and Louisiana Citizens have voluntarily complied. The Commissioner’s office said they are working out repercussions if other companies don’t comply.
Donelon said people should document all damage and make their claims before they start to repair it. There is some responsibility on the policyholder to make sure no further damage happens after the storm.
For example, putting a tarp over a hole in the roof so rainwater does not leak in and cause more damage. They urge people to get into the queue for an adjuster to get out and survey the damage. If someone feels an adjuster’s report isn’t accurate, the Department of Insurance can help file a complaint, which will require a response from the insurance company within two weeks.
The commissioner said even if you got minor damage that costs less than your deductible to repair, it should still be reported. If there is another weather event, like in 2020, those costs will count towards the deductible.
“Even though you don’t agree with the amount your check is for, you can deposit that money and spend it on your repair and go back and file a supplemental claim as many times as necessary,” Donelon said.
Once repairs have begun and more damage is found later, that is also grounds to reapply for more funding. Donelon suggests asking contractors to take photos before they begin work and to document any additional damage they may find. In Louisiana law, making multiple claims for damages from a storm will not affect your rates.
“A claim filed for an act of God loss; hurricanes, hail storms, tornadoes cannot be used to cancel, to not renew or to increase your premiums,” Donelon said.
They also say even if you get insurance coverage people should apply to FEMA to also get assistance. People should apply through their insurance first and then FEMA so they can work together to work out where they are needing help and what each program covers.