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Difficulties with the hurricane insurance claims process

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2020 | Insurance Bad Faith

Many Louisiana residents know the devastation a hurricane can bring. Some hurricane survivors are also conscious of the fact the storm does not necessarily end once there is no more wind and rain.

Insurance law prohibits the need for consumers to pay more than one large deductible in a single hurricane season. But some companies still require a smaller “additional deductible” from residents who need repairs to their homes twice in a hurricane season. This fact became relevant for Louisiana residents who suffered damage from Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

The price range normally attached to the “all perils” deductible runs between $500 and $2,000. However, at least one insurance company serving hurricane survivors in the state has decided to waive a second deductible for its customers.

Louisiana’s State Insurance Commissioner commended USAA for eliminating the out-of-pocket expenses for residents affected by the second of the two hurricanes. The commissioner says that the decision was voluntary on the part of the insurance company and that the commissioner has no power that would compel the company to cancel the deductibles.

Some consumers in the state also deal with the actions of insurance carriers known in the industry as “surplus companies.” These companies represent an unregulated area of the insurance market and do not provide consumers with the protections from the Louisiana Guaranty Association that more established insurance carriers offer.

Individuals who purchase these policies sign a document explaining they know they are not receiving a traditional insurance policy and are aware of the protections that are not part of the agreement. But this fact has not stopped many consumers from complaining about these companies assigning a depreciated value to the property they lost this hurricane season despite the fact their premiums were for full-value replacement.

These companies explain that they will reimburse the full-value price if the consumer first pays for the replacement and shows a receipt. However, the company will assign a value when the consumer waits for compensation to make the replacement. Many consumers and advocates feel this is an unreasonable policy.

Insurance premiums represent payments for protections that consumers hope they never need. Because these protections are often unneeded, many consumers are unfamiliar with the claim filing process or the steps necessary to ensure that an insurance carrier holds up their end of the bargain when disaster strikes. Individuals who need help with a disaster claim may benefit from the services of an attorney.


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