The aftermath of Ida shook affected areas with the loss of their homes and a convoluted path of restoring 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 Donelon, Louisiana’s commissioner of insurance, explains the updates from the previous Ida claims.
“Most folks have been paid for their losses. Our most recent report which was through March 31st shows that some 460,000 claims have been filed and 12.1 billion dollars are reserved to be paid by companies that acknowledge they owed that money or have paid that money,” Donelon said.
In hopes to prevent mishandling of claims, the department of insurance has successfully adopted a bill referred to as the three-adjuster rule.
“If you have a third adjuster assigned to your claim within a 6-month period of time then the company has to give you a full report of your claim and make available to you copies of all documents the company has on your claims from each of the three adjusters assigned to your claim,” Donelon said. “In addition, we have passed a bill that requires the department of insurance to congregate a user form for the processing of a claim on your flood insurance policy.”
Donelon adds that this form will have to be sent either electronically or land mailed to every policy holder after a hurricane event.
There is some uncertainty, he explains, in the new flood insurance maps. As new rules have been implemented different from previous years.
The national insurance program run by FEMA, risk rating 2.0, was put into effect last October.
“The prices are done on an individual property basis. The “black box” that contains the data that is used by FEMA to price and evaluate each policy is confidential and not yet revealed,” Donelon said.
However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure that claims can be processed smoothly.
The first one being to acquire flood insurance. “Only a quarter of the residents of Louisiana have flood insurance and it needs to be more than that. In order to protect the biggest investment most folks have: their home,” Donelon said.
After acquiring your insurance the next essential step is to know what your insurance entails. Contact your agent and know what your insurance coverage covers and what it does not, he said.
Most importantly take pictures of your property. “Go through your property with your cell phone and take a picture in every room and the content they’re in,” Donelon said. “It’s so much 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 had.”
Lastly, while you’re evacuating make sure to have your insurance information at hand, he explains. Starting your claims sooner will make things easier to process.
Hurricane Ida only showed how resilient coastal communities are:
“It is commonly accepted that we can survive and build and thrive in our coastal parishes – exposed as they are,” Donelon said.
Buildings made to resist high speed wind storms survived the storm with minimal damages, so Donelon encourages to adapt stronger foundations.
“We are making efforts to encourage folks and help folks to build higher and stronger so that they 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 coastal area and described it as a “working coast”:
“It’s folks who work in the oil and gas industry; offshore and onshore, folks who work in the seafood industry; producing those delicious red fish and speckled trout and crawfish that we all love and consume. Not just in Louisiana but all over 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 that are so important to the national economy require firefighters, schoolteachers, emergency medical folks to support the workers who populate our coastal parishes,” Donelon 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 that again. I already have companies expressing interest in coming to our market to provide coverage in light of the fact we have had four of our domestic companies out of 30 new to our market since Katrina go under and fail policyholders,” Donelon said.
With the efforts the Louisiana Department of Insurance are trying to make, there is hope that coastal parishes can continue despite any storms that may follow.