The October 2020 storm spun up rather quickly– coming out of the lower Gulf in just a few days, to threaten South Louisiana and Texas. It did even more damage to Lake Charles and neighboring communities, like Iowa and Cameron, that were still reeling from the devastation brought on by August’s category 4 Hurricane Laura.
If you have property damages, the time to act is now. After a storm, take pictures to document your damages BEFORE you do clean-up. Insurance companies will try to take extensive photographs of any damage.
If there is an issue with downed trees, insurers will often either pay for someone to clean up or pay the cost a chainsaw for you to do it. Should you contract to have it done, make sure you keep good records.
After Hurricane Gustav in 2002, my brother and I went to my mother’s house, ready to clear five fallen trees. We already had the chainsaws and equipment. We were just about to start work, when a group of tree guys showed up –seemingly out of nowhere. After some back-and-forth negotiations, we agreed on a price. They were able to do the job in record time. We were grateful to have it done so well and without losing any fingers. Since they were from out of town, they would only take cash. Luckily, we got a receipt. The insurance company reimbursed us in full. Without that, we would have probably been out of luck for repayment.
A side issue that very few people talk about has to do with preserving versus replacing. Insurance companies usually always go with the cheapest path. If your carpet is damaged, and you managed to dry it out, you may be disappointed when you find that your neighbors all got to replace their carpet, while you are making due with what you had before.
As a general rule, if your carpet is wet, you are better off pulling it and getting the insurance company to buy new carpet than trying to dry it out and getting stuck with old, and likely mildewed carpet.
Depending on your insurance policy, it will not insure you for a whole house generator. Quite often, however, it will pay the cost of a portable basic generator to save any food that might otherwise be lost.
Another thing people often overlook is coverage to stay in a hotel while the house is being repaired. Not everyone has this. But there is no reason to be stuck at your house without air-conditioning, under pretty rough conditions while repairs are being made.
The best place to find out what is covered is to call your agent. If you’re told something is not covered, always request a copy of the policy. Your agent is supposed to be there for you, but he or she has a long-standing relationship with the insurance company and it is usually more focused on staying in their good graces than in yours.
The Gouner Law Office handles all types of insurance disputes. If you have an issue with your homeowners insurance, give us a call.
Written by Ted Baldwin