Flood cases written at federal level
Insurers continued to field calls from policyholders Friday as they worked to get into areas of the state still inaccessible, mostly due to floodwater.
State Farm, which writes about a third of the policies in Louisiana, was the only major insurer that is releasing the number of claims filed, which stood at 4,803 at the end of the day Thursday. That is about four times what had been reported at the end of the day Wednesday as Hurricane Isaac meandered across south Louisiana.
State Farm said 998 of the claims filed by the end of the day Thursday were for automobiles.
In Mississippi, State Farm had received 607 claims, with 146 of them auto claims.
Allstate and Liberty Mutual said they do not publicly disclose the number of claims after storms, and Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-backed insurer of last resort, was still without power and all calls were routed to the claims center.
All companies reached, however, said they were getting their disaster teams and mobile claims units into — and as close to — the affected areas as they could.
Parts of Slidell were still difficult to access, but State Farm said three permanent offices in LaPlace, which was hit hard by floodwater, were functioning and a mobile unit was added.
“We started sending our claims personnel in yesterday (Thursday) and, as you’d expect, some of the areas they just cannot get into,” said Gary Stephenson, spokesman for State Farm. “These sorts of things always have their challenges, but you deal with the physical conditions as best you can.”
Ileana Ledet, spokeswoman for the state Insurance Department, said the department could not yet furnish any claims figures, but said Commissioner Jim Donelon will hold a news conference Tuesday to discuss the impact of the storm.
Stephenson said it is difficult to tell how the early numbers on claims stack up against other storms. Each one is different, and with teams in the heart of the impacted areas each time, the devastation is at once similar and unique.
Isaac wasn’t as powerful as Katrina or Gustav, but moved more slowly and cut a very wide swath. Wind damage may not be as extensive as Gustav in many areas, but flooding was intense.
But no matter how many storms you go through, Stephenson said, “it’s always overwhelming when you get there. You’re never really quite ready for that, to see the hurt of people who have had their lives disrupted by the damage that comes with these storms.”
Allison Hatcher, regional spokeswoman for Allstate, said that with extensive flood damage, much of the damage will be covered by flood insurance policies, which are written at the federal level.
She pointed out that not all insurers process federal flood claims. Allstate does, so customers are able to process their flood claims through Allstate along with their insurance claims.
Donelon’s office encouraged first-time filers with any questions to contact the insurance department at (800) 259-5300. Consumers can find resources online at http://www.ldi.la.gov, and can also submit questions via email to Isaac@ldi.la.gov.
Tips from the department include:
- Policies might require that you make the notification of a loss within a certain time frame. Be sure to keep a record of the conversation with notes on all pertinent information.
- Find out from your agent what documents, forms and data you will need to file a claim. Provide your insurance company with accurate, detailed information. Incorrect or incomplete information will cause a delay in processing your claim.
- If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company if your policy covers additional living expenses.
- If you need to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage to your property from the weather or from looting, such as boarding up windows or placing plastic over a leaking roof, keep a list of all work done and save receipts for all materials used. Do not sign any agreements with contractors for repairs until you have spoken with your insurance company.
- An insurance company has up to 30 days to pay your claim after you give them satisfactory proof of loss.