What should I know if insurance fails to pay my claim for hurricane damage?
Insurance companies should serve as a safety net. We pay our premiums and, in exchange, expect the insurance company to offer coverage when the worst happens. Unfortunately, not every insurance provider meets the terms as stated within the policy. This is more than just frustrating and unethical; in many cases it is illegal.
Examples of lack of hurricane coverage
If you are in this situation, know that you are not alone. Families throughout Louisiana found themselves fighting with insurance companies after the state was pummeled by hurricanes in 2020. High winds ripped through roofs, tore off siding, and broke windows.
Homes were left uninhabitable.
Families filed claims for coverage on insurance policies that they had maintained over the years, making timely payments, and updating as necessary. Yet when the insurance provider was faced with claims for coverage, many chose to evade or deny coverage.
Louisiana law protects homeowners from unscrupulous insurance companies
There are multiple laws in Louisiana that require insurers to make a reasonable effort to settle claims in a timely manner. These laws state that the insurance provider cannot arbitrarily dismiss a claim and that the provider has a duty to adjust claims fairly and promptly. This second law also provides examples of acts that the state considers a breach of the provider’s duties. These include:
- Misrepresentation. The policy provider cannot mislead the homeowner about provisions or coverage offered by the policy.
- Timely payment. The law also requires the insurance company to provide payment within thirty days of putting the agreement in writing.
- Proper notice. The provider cannot change the application and move forward with a denial or settlement without notice or consent of the insured.
- Failure to pay. The law also sets out time periods for repayment as well as providing further clarification that it is a breach to fail to pay a claim without good reason.
These laws work together to help better ensure insurance companies make do on the coverage they promise homeowners within their policies.
Legal remedies are available for victims of bad faith insurance denials
Insurance providers who fail to abide by these laws can face penalties. In addition to the provision of the funds as stated within the policy, penalties for a failure to follow these laws can include an additional 50% damages or one thousand dollars, whichever is greater, as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees. Penalties for a failure to follow the second law noted above can also include two times the damages or five thousand dollars, whichever is greater.
Homeowners who believe they are the victim of a bad faith insurance claim denial will generally need to show that the insurance policy provider failed to act reasonably when reviewing the claim. This can require proof of arbitrary conduct, unreasonable delays, or a failure to properly investigate the claim. Gathering such evidence is not always an easy task. Those who believe they are the victim of a bad faith claim do not need to go it alone. Homeowners can seek legal counsel from an attorney experienced in hurricane damage claims to help advocate for their interests and better ensure they receive the compensation they are entitled.