A Guide for Natural Disaster Claims Posted on September 13, 2021 by The National Trial Lawyers The number of lives lost from natural disasters can differ yearly; some years pass with relatively few deaths prior to a large disaster event takes too many innocent lives. According to Our World in Data, if you look at the average over the past ten years, approximately 60,000 individuals across the world passed away from a natural disaster. Our World in Data has discovered that in many years, the number of deaths can often be less than 10,000. But they also see the horrific effect of shock events such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami; 2005 Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, LA; and the 2010 Port-au-Prince earthquake in Haiti. What is a Natural Disaster? According to the Department of Homeland Security, a natural disaster consists of all kinds of severe weather, which can pose a significant risk to human health and safety, property, critical infrastructure, and homeland security. All natural disasters are normally described to be an instance that causes building and/or structural damage due to natural causes that are not within human control. Natural disasters happen seasonally and without warning, causing the country to experience frequent durations of disruption, uncertainty, financial loss, and even possible death. There are numerous kinds of natural disasters, consisting of winter storms, floods, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, or any combination of the like. Does Homeowners Insurance Cover a Natural Disaster? The majority of natural disasters are uncertain and challenging to gauge. Because of this, it can be challenging to recover losses for damages to properties you own. To ensure that you are protected when disaster strikes, it is essential to consider whether your renters or homeowners insurance policy covers natural disasters when renting or buying a home. Natural disasters can include: Lightning strikesHail DamageMudslidesRockslidesTsunamisOther common natural disasters . Most standard homeowners insurance plans cover a wide range of situations; however, other possible disasters need to be added to your policy. Homeowners’ insurance plans are important to have so that when a tragic disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado occurs, a homeowner does not need to pay out-of-pocket to fix any damage that happened. Insurance plans cover anything from items lost to theft or even fire damage caused by particular natural disasters. When a natural disaster hits, insurance providers have an obligation to ensure that their customers receive the payment they deserve reliably and feasibly. Policyholders specifically pay their premiums on time to acquire insurance coverage during horrific times like these. High-Risk Areas Typically, basic homeowners insurance coverage does not cover natural disasters if you reside in a high-risk area, such as a flat area on the edge of a river or along an active fault. Because of this absence of coverage, homeowners generally buy supplemental policies that cover particular types of natural disasters depending on the conditions in where their home is located. However, if you live in a high-risk area, you can potentially pay more for your basic policy to cover that increased risk. Flooding Because flooding can come in several different forms, not all sources of flooding are treated equally. Flooding can come from: RiversPlumbing failuresCoastal surges or sneak wavesSinkholesExcess rain Relatively speaking, most homeowner policies specifically exclude flood-related damage. The only exception is cases that are directly associated with flooding from damaged plumbing infrastructure, such as a leaking pipe. However, if you live in an area where floods occur frequently, you can purchase a special flood protection policy. In 1968, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created so that homeowners in flood-prone areas could buy flood insurance. The NFIP is through private insurance providers but is supported by the United States government. The cost of flood insurance through the NFIP is decided by the measures the community you live in has taken to minimize the risk of flood damage. Hurricanes and Tornadoes . Homeowners’ insurance plans cover any wind damage resulting from natural disasters (primarily hurricanes); however, they omit the flooding that often follows storm surges from hurricanes. Damage as the result of a tornado is usually covered, such as: Any and all damage considered to be wind damageWater damage related to tornadoes (e.g., rain that comes through a roof that was damaged in a tornado) The majority of states on the East and Gulf coast are susceptible to hurricanes; nevertheless, states like Florida and Louisiana are the most vulnerable due to their close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Individuals that live in these states should heavily consider buying flood insurance or certain “beach and windstorm” insurance to safeguard their homes in the case of a hurricane damaging them. Most insurance companies are looking to make enormous quantities of money, and hurricanes can cost a state or region tens of billions of dollars in property damage. Due to these insurance providers’ profitable intentions, it is crucial to completely understand every detail of your homeowners’ insurance policy, especially if you live in a high-risk area. For instance, different hurricane insurance claims include debates over how the terms “wind damage” and “flood damage” are specified by insurance providers. Earthquakes A variety of aspects determine the cost of earthquake insurance. Those elements include: Location of the houseMaterials used in its constructionThe way it is constructedThe integrity of its foundationNumber of stories or levelsHome’s insured valuePolicyholder’s chosen level of coverage Even if a homeowner lives in an area that is not known for earthquake activity, they still have the option of purchasing supplemental earthquake insurance at a decently low premium. For example, individuals that live in Missouri can acquire relatively inexpensive earthquake insurance even though the state is situated on the unknown but possibly catastrophic New Madrid Fault. Volcanoes Even if you do not live near an active volcano, your homeowners’ insurance policy most likely covers damage from an unlikely volcanic eruption. Standard policies mainly cover damage related to: AshDustParticulate matterLava flowInitial removal of these materials Standard policies do not cover: LandslidesShock wavesTremorsAsh deposited later (from the wind) Someone who owns a house near an active volcano, even in parts of Washington, can buy extra coverage for volcanic disasters to ensure their home is protected if a volcano erupts and damages their home. The bottom line is that when a natural disaster strikes, you should be able to rely on your insurance provider to help repair any damage that is covered within the policy that you hold with them. Unfortunately, more times than not, insurers underpay on their claims or deny a claim entirely to profit as much as possible. If you have the right coverage, but the insurance company declares that you do not, an attorney can evaluate your policy and help you recover full compensation. Contact our experienced lawyers at The Cochran Firm today to help you fight for the settlement you deserve for natural disaster damages. Insurance Companies Underpaying on Claims Many insurance providers are after only one thing: money. Insurance providers use many techniques to underpay on claims or even completely deny the claim to make as much money as possible. Some of these strategies include: Claiming that the type of damage is not covered in a clients’ policyApplying inaccurate markdowns to determine the value of an assetUsing inaccurate, outdated price lists when construction prices have increasedFailing to value the cost of repairs/replacements accurately, especially pertaining to objectsStanding in the way of processing a claim in hopes of increasing the likelihood that a policyholder will become desperate and agree to a smaller payout. Businesses have even found that by lowballing insurance holder’s cases, they can save millions of dollars. While the federal government funds flood insurance plans and there is no intent on profit in this case, in homeowners protection, where businesses pay out of their own pockets, they obtain earnings and have every intention of profiting. Examples of Insurance Companies Underpaying on Claims Hurricane Isaac In one suit, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, a state-run insurance provider, was sued for underpayment of property insurance claims after Hurricane Isaac struck. Legal actions varied regarding the insurance policies breach of contract. Some claims were underpaid by $40,000 and others by approximately $70,000. After the dreadful storm, many families could not fix their homes because of the deliberate underpayment of claims. Hurricane Sandy After Hurricane Sandy struck, numerous insurance providers were denied insurance policy protection for damages suffered after flooding from the storm. Fabricated reports established that damage to the home “existed before the storm” or could have been “due to natural planet activity.” After this storm, specialists in insurance coverage plans identified that insurance providers systematically turned down reputable insurance policy cases and significantly underpaid what they should have. The truth of the matter is that many insurance providers will do whatever it takes to make a profit, even if it is at the expense of their clients. Fortunately, our experienced lawyers at The Cochran Firm are ready to assist you in fighting for fair settlements for the damages you have suffered due to a natural disaster. Has Your Property Been Damaged Due to a Natural Disaster? If you have experienced the nightmare of seeing your property become exceptionally damaged by the ruthless forces accompanying a natural disaster, you are likely facing significantly expensive repairs. The unbelievably strong winds that hurricanes and tornadoes bring habitually cause horrific damage to communities throughout the United States, a reality that is only augmented by the danger of flood damage. States with dry, hot summer seasons are susceptible to wildfires that quickly consume massive areas of land, blazing out of control and burning anything along its path. Earthquakes also cause considerable damage due to their rattling of structures, causing harm and destruction to anyone and anything standing in its way. Winter storms bring extreme hail and freezing temperatures that cause extreme damage to your property. Luckily, our experienced, resourceful natural disaster attorneys at The Cochran Firm understand just what to do and are eager to help you navigate your claim throughout this trying time. How Do I Handle a Natural Disaster Claim? Dealing with the effect of a hurricane, tornado, fire, or any other natural disaster can be highly stressful and even frightening. Policyholders expect their insurance provider to fix any damage related to a natural disaster once a claim is filed; however, that is not always the case. Actually, policyholders often make filing mistakes that can cost them countless dollars. This reality is typically related to consumers failing to read the fine print of their policy, resulting in being underinsured and sometimes even paying for coverage out of their own pocket. So, if you are unsure of what your insurance policy will cover to file a successful claim, consider the following things when filing your natural disaster claim. Assess the damages you have incurred. Make sure you take photographs and keep a list of the property that has been harmed. Be very sure that you do not dispose of any property until an insurance adjuster has evaluated it for your claim. You can attempt to make temporary repairs to your home and move your personal property into storage if your residence cannot be secured. Insurance plans can allow for the repayment of storage units until you can back into your home. Carefully go through your policy and make sure you understand what can be covered regarding clean-up ad repairs. Many insurance policies compensate for mold, painting, carpet, wall repairs (or insulation), and rewiring and electric work. If you can still reside in your home, but your home needs repairs due to a natural disaster, make sure to consult with your insurance provider about the repairs that need to be made urgently. Be sure you document all of your costs (keep receipts) no matter if you made the repairs yourself or hired someone else to do so. If you cannot live in your home after a natural disaster, be sure to record all of your expenditures (meals, hotel rooms, transportation, etc.). A typical insurance plan generally provides a limited amount of coverage for these expenditures. Understand that most insurers have a time limit on when you can file a claim, so it is very important to submit your claim as soon as possible. As soon as you file a claim, your insurance company will send out an adjuster to survey the damage of your home at no charge to you. Before you agree to the settlement terms, you are allowed to have an independent contractor of your chance evaluate the adjuster’s survey or go over the evaluation to make certain that all damage that needs to be covered will be covered. Make sure to keep up with your claim. If you believe there is a delay on your claim by the insurance provider and you have gotten in touch with the claims department, and they have not gotten back to you, make sure to consult with a lawyer to advance your claim. Don’t be scared to NOT agree to a settlement. When it comes down to it, insurance providers aim to profit as much as they can, so it is possible their settlement deal will be less than you deserve. Even if you act in a timely manner when submitting your claim, there are many reasons why your claim could be delayed or, worse, denied. You could be denied because you are underinsured, or in some instances, you might have adequate coverage, but you will not be compensated the full amount due to the terms and conditions of your policy. In this case, you will not be denied coverage, but you will need to pay the remaining expenses out of your own pocket. Unfortunately, your coverage can be declined if your home is damaged by a natural disaster that you do not have coverage for. If you feel as though you have been taken advantage of by your insurance company after a natural disaster strikes, contact The Cochran Firm today. Our experienced attorneys are prepared to walk you through the complex legal procedure and defend you until you get the settlement you deserve. Why Choose The Cochran Firm The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most successful and tenacious attorneys. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. The Cochran Firm attorneys know how to fight for you. Here at The Cochran Firm, our experienced attorneys are ready to help you or someone you love that has suffered from a natural disaster claim. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided. You need the help of an experienced attorney who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages you are entitled to under the law. Our attorneys have won over $30 Billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients. At The Cochran Firm, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States. If you’re looking for an experienced natural disaster lawyer to help you pursue justice and obtain compensation for your losses, please contact our attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation today.