Louisiana residents know all too well the damage a hurricane can do. These powerful storms seem to happen more often and do more damage than ever before. You could be dealing with hurricane damage and wonder: How long do I have to file a hurricane damage claim in Louisiana?
Time Limitations for Louisiana Hurricane Damage Claims
A statute of limitations is a limited time to file a claim or legal action. This time limit forbids late filings, often regardless of the reason you may be filing late. While there are a few factors that may impact this time period, you generally have very little time after hurricane damage to file your claim. If you submit late, you could miss your opportunity to win the compensation and reimbursement you deserve.
Many states set time limits on hurricane damage claims, including Louisiana. According to Louisiana Revised Statutes Section 22:1264, property owners must file a hurricane damage insurance claim at least 180 days after the event or declared state of emergency. It also protects homeowners from any automatic denials due to the inability to provide proof of loss within the time limits required by the insurance policy.
The 180-day period does not start while a state of emergency is declared and if local authorities deny homeowners access to their property. Once homeowners are allowed to return, the time period may begin to run. This law was enacted after several severe storms kept people from their homes for months, causing notification periods to lapse unfairly. The same statute entitles homeowners with replacement cost provisions in their insurance policy to complete repairs to the property within one year of the date of the hurricane damage. It will also permit you one year from the date you receive the insurance proceeds, whichever comes later.
Should I Wait To File My Hurricane Damage Insurance Claim?
It’s best to file your claim as soon as possible. While you have 180 days to file your claim, your claim may have problems or not be received. You want to know your claim is filed correctly well before the time limit passes to prevent accidental non-compliance. Failure to file in time, even by accident, could be disastrous to your finances.
Waiting to file your claim could also affect the proof of your damages as some damages may become more challenging to see after the passage of time. Flooding is an excellent example. You may be able to take pictures of the flooding and flood damage soon after the hurricane, but some of this damage may be harder to capture over the course of time.
Do I Have To Complete Repairs Within 180 Days?
You do not have to complete or even start your repairs within that time period. The 180-day limit only applies to your claim submission. It’s often impossible to start repairs that early, as many Louisianans know first-hand. Hurricane damage can take a long time to fix, especially when thousands of homes are damaged at the same time.
Your insurance company will likely require periodic updates about repairs. Follow their directions as best as possible, and always notify your insurer about your repair progress.
Extensions to the 180-Day Time Limitation
Sometimes, 180 days is simply not enough time to file a claim. Strong hurricanes can cause incredible wind and flooding damage to local areas. These may result in mandatory evacuations that could last days or weeks. Property owners may be unable to return for various reasons to look at the damage and make an appropriate insurance claim.
The Louisiana state government may issue a deadline extension for people living within severely affected areas. This may come through a sweeping declaration by the governor or a government agency. Individual property owners may also file appeals with their insurance companies for an extension. These individual requests are best made with the help of an experienced attorney, as insurance companies may try to deny coverage to save money.
Who Sets the Official Hurricane Damage Deadline?
The Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) sets the official deadline based on the statutory requirements. The department determines when the 180-day period is triggered and when it ends. The media will typically report this deadline on the news, social media, government websites, and more.
What Should I Do After Hurricane Damage?
There are several steps you should take after a hurricane to protect your rights as a homeowner:
Document your damages: Take photos and videos of your property to capture evidence of any harm. Submit these photos and videos to your insurer as part of your claim within the 180-day time limit.
Mitigate damages: Try to prevent any further harm to your property as best as possible. For example, remove salvageable items to prevent water damage, dry things you can save, and seal broken windows where possible. Be safe, but your efforts can save money and make your claim easier.
Create a detailed list of damaged items: This should include what the item is and what it is worth. Receipts or purchase records can also be beneficial to prove the value of your items.
Keep copies of all communications: Keep records of every communication with your insurer or anyone related to your claim. This means keeping all letters, emails, invoices, or anything else to have a complete record of what discussions took place.
Speak with an attorney: Hurricane damage claims can be complicated, especially if your insurer tries to deny your claim. An attorney can help file your claim, seek deadlines, and even fight the insurance company to help win compensation.
File Your Louisiana Hurricane Claim in Time
Following a hurricane, you likely have a lot on your plate. You may have lost your home or you may be dealing with severe damage. Despite the challenges you face, it’s essential to file your hurricane damage claim within the 180-day window. Otherwise, you could miss out on the compensation you deserve.