If you are the owner of a business in Louisiana, this is for you. Keep reading, and you will learn some helpful facts about preparing your business for natural disasters like Hurricane Ida. You’ll also learn why you may need the advice and services of a Metairie hurricane claims attorney.
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, reports that nearly forty percent of the small businesses in the U.S. that suffer a major natural disaster never recover and never reopen. Other businesses must close for weeks or longer and lose revenue that cannot be recovered.
What do business owners in Louisiana need to know about hurricanes, the insurance claims generated by hurricanes and other disasters, and the legal rights of policyholders? What is a business owner’s recourse if a hurricane-related property damage claim is not handled properly?
Those questions will be answered in this brief look at what business owners should know about hurricanes. You will also learn where to obtain the legal help you may need if you’re a Louisiana business owner and your insurance company is not operating in good faith after Hurricane Ida.
Does Your Business Have a Disaster Plan?
Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana on August 29 as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of up to 150 miles per hour. More than a million Louisiana homes and businesses were temporarily without power. The storm was responsible for at least $18 billion of damages in this state.
The storm was also a reminder that small and mid-sized businesses in Louisiana must have a natural disaster plan in writing. When a disaster threatens, the right disaster plan substantially increases your company’s survival chances. Your company’s disaster plan should address:
- protecting the business records and IT infrastructure
- determining what operations are essential and who will conduct those operations
- training and preparing employees for a natural disaster
- communicating with everyone who’s involved
- having adequate liability and property damage insurance at all times
Is Your Business Ready for Natural Disasters?
Properly trained employees keep some businesses running and profitable even during disasters like Hurricane Ida. The American Red Cross or your local fire department can provide disaster, first aid, and CPR training to your employees. Adequate insurance coverage is imperative.
Make certain that your insurance policies stay current and that your business is properly and fully insured at all times. When you invest in new equipment or technology, contact your insurance company to ensure that your new investment will be covered by your policy.
The right Louisiana insurance claims attorney can advise and represent you if any dispute emerges with your insurance company after a hurricane or another natural disaster. There’s no need for a natural disaster to also be a legal and insurance disaster for you and your business.
Is Your Insurance Company Hurting Your Business?
Insurance coverage is supposed to be there when we need it. Especially after a natural disaster like Hurricane Ida, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Laura or Hurricane Delta, we trust insurance companies to provide the coverage that we pay for.
Too often, however, and particularly after a natural disaster like a hurricane that affects thousands of homes and businesses, insurance companies deny legitimate claims, pay only a fraction of what a claim is worth, or delay action on a claim for months or as long as possible.
For business owners, an insurance company’s bad faith can cost you – every day – until the matter is resolved. An insurance policy is a legally enforceable contract. Bad faith happens and that contract is breached when an insurance company refuses to meet its contractual obligation.
When Should You Contact an Attorney?
If you own a business in or near the Metairie or New Orleans area, and if you are dealing with an insurance company that is operating in bad faith after Hurricane Ida, arrange at once to discuss your property damage claim and your legal rights with a Metairie hurricane claims attorney.
When an insurance company has operated in bad faith, your Louisiana insurance claims lawyer will contact the company and seek to negotiate an acceptable resolution of your claim on your behalf. That’s how most insurance claim disputes are resolved in this state.
If the insurance company continues to dispute or deny your claim, your lawyer can take the case to trial. When a business owner prevails at trial, in some cases, a court may order the insurance company to pay the business owner additional damages beyond the amount of the original claim.
What Constitutes Insurance Bad Faith?
But for your claim to prevail, you and your lawyer will be required to prove that rejecting or mishandling your claim was more than a simple mistake. You’ll have to prove that it constituted either negligence or intentional bad faith.
A simple disagreement with an insurance company over the monetary value of a property damage claim does not – by itself – necessarily constitute insurance bad faith. However, your claim is not being handled properly when:
- The investigation of your claim never ends – or it never begins.
- The reasons offered for the rejection of your claim are disingenuous or plainly not true.
- You receive no payout, and you receive no explanation.
- The settlement offer or the payout is far less than your claim is actually worth.
An insurance company could even “give you the brush-off” and hope you get tired of waiting and just go away. Don’t do that. If you must spend immediately for property damage repairs, take plenty of “before and after” photos and make copies of all of the receipts and work orders.
What Steps Should You Take?
Maintain a record of all of your conversations and correspondence with the insurance company. During any face-to-face or phone conversations, take notes that include the date, time, and the name of the individual who spoke with you.
If your business is losing revenue due to an insurance company’s bad faith, you have the right to file a lawsuit to obtain your insurance payout. The last thing a business owner needs – especially after a hurricane – is an insurance company that breaches its contracts and operates in bad faith.
Cases based on an insurance company’s bad faith are cases about betrayal. If you’ve paid your insurance premiums, you expect to be provided with what you’ve paid for. If you aren’t, arrange