The aftermath of Ida rocked the affected areas with the loss of their homes and a complicated road to recovering their insurance claims. As we approach the heart of the 2022 season, there are steps and lessons that can be learned from last year’s experience.
Jim Donnellon, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner, explains updates from previous Ida claims.
“Most people have paid for their losses. Our last report was until March 31St shows that about 460,000 claims have been filed and $12.1 billion has been reserved for payment by companies that admit they owe that money or have paid it,” Donnellon said.
In hopes of preventing claims from being mishandled, the insurance department successfully passed a bill called the three-adjuster rule.
“If you have a third party adjuster appointed to your claim within a 6 month period then the company must provide you with a full report on your claim and provide you with copies of any documents the company has on your claims from each of the three adjusters assigned to your claim,” Donelon said. “Additionally, we passed a bill that requires the Department of Insurance to collect a consumer form to process a claim on your flood insurance policy.”
Donelon adds that this form will need to be sent either electronically or by ground to each policyholder after a hurricane event.
There is some uncertainty, he explains, in the new flood insurance cards. As new rules have been introduced, different from the previous years.
The national insurance program, administered by FEMA, with a 2.0 risk rating, went into effect last October.
“Prices are based on an individual property. “The ‘black box’ that contains the data FEMA uses to price and evaluate each policy is confidential and has not yet been disclosed,” Donnellon said.
However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure that claims can be processed smoothly.
The first is to acquire flood insurance. “Only a quarter of Louisiana residents have flood insurance, and it needs to be more than that. To protect the biggest investment most people have: their home,” Donnellon said.
After acquiring your insurance, the next important step is to know what your insurance covers. Contact your agent and find out what your insurance coverage covers and what it doesn’t, he said.
The most important thing is to photograph your property. “Look around your property with your cell phone and take a picture of each room and the contents they’re in,” Donnellon said. “It’s a lot easier to file a claim and process a claim when you can show your insurance company what was there before, the condition it was in and the value it was.”
Finally, as you evacuate, be sure to have your insurance information handy, he explains. Starting claims earlier will make things easier to process.
Hurricane Ida just showed how resilient coastal communities are:
“It’s common knowledge that we can survive, build and thrive in our coastal parishes — exposed as they are,” Donnellon said.
Buildings built to withstand high-wind storms survive the storm with minimal damage, so Donelon encourages stronger foundations to be adapted.
“We strive to encourage people and help them build taller and stronger so they can continue to live and prosper in coastal areas that are more vulnerable to hurricanes than any other state in America,” he said. .
He admires Louisiana’s coastline and describes it as a “working coast”:
“These are people who work in the oil and gas industry; offshore and onshore, people who work in the seafood industry; producing that delicious redfish and rainbow trout and crab that we all love and consume. Not only in Louisiana, but across America and beyond, our seafood is in demand.
“Our energy produced in coastal Louisiana is in demand. Our refineries and chemical plants are in demand. Our ports, which are so important to the national economy, require firefighters, teachers, emergency medical personnel to support the workers who populate our coastal parishes,” Donnellon said.
He adds that affordable homeowners, flood and commercial property insurance is essential.
“We rebuilt our market after the devastation of Rita and Katrina in 2005 and we will do it again. There are already companies that are interested in coming into our marketplace to provide coverage in light of the fact that we have four of our local companies out of 30 new to our marketplace since Katrina hit and bankrupting policyholders,” Donnellon said.
With the efforts the Louisiana Department of Insurance is trying to make, there is hope that coastal parishes can continue to exist despite any storms that may follow.