Insurers Deny Claims For Hurricanes & Natural Disasters
As a result of the recent spate of hurricanes, wildfires, floods and tropical storms, U.S. residents—and their insurance companies—have had their share of natural disasters and the clean-up and rebuilding that follows. Unfortunately, homeowners and commercial property insurance policies are not always clear regarding whether the damage caused by these natural disasters is covered, and insurance carriers are increasingly exploiting the language in these policies to attempt to avoid liability for these losses.
After Hurricane Katrina, many Louisiana residents found themselves without insurance coverage based upon their homeowner’s policy’s “flood” exclusion. Although both the trial court and intermediate appellate courts ruled in favor of the insured homeowners by finding the exclusion to be unambiguous and inapplicable to man-made events such as the failure of a level, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the decision and ruled in favor of the insurance carriers by finding the “flood” exclusion unambiguously applied to both natural and man-made floods in Sher v. Lafayette Insurance Company, __So.2d___, 2008 WL 928486 (La. 2008).
But Hurricane Katrina victims aren’t the only ones fighting with insurance companies to define and receive coverage for damages from natural disasters. CNN’s Money Magazine, in its article entitled Insurers Playing Rough, discusses a disturbing trend by insurance carriers to make lowball settlement offers to their insureds following natural disasters, thereby exploiting the insured’s financial vulnerability in order to avoid paying the total value of their legitimate claims. As detailed by Money Magazine, the carriers offer far less than the claims are worth because many of their insureds who have had their homes and businesses destroyed are desperate to rebuild their lives and will accept paltry settlements to survive.
Homeowners wonder what they can do if their insurance companies deny their claims or give lower payouts than what they feel is deserved. Although the Money Magazine article mentioned above gives some suggestions, your best opportunity to receive the financial coverage you deserve comes from having an experienced professional on your side. Our firm is experienced in negotiating with insurance carriers, has extensive knowledge concerning the intricacies of insurance law, and—unlike your insurance carrier—we always have your best interests in mind.