When a terrible storm strikes your home, family, or community, insurance, and its related claims and forms might be the furthest thing from your mind until you can be sure that everyone around you is safe and sound. However, this leaves many policyholders asking: How long after a storm can I file a claim?
It’s an excellent and pertinent question and one that can be aptly answered by Galen M. Hair, a Louisiana-based property insurance attorney and one of the top specialists in the country. His company, Insurance Claim HQ, has proudly helped more than 1,200 families, as well as several churches in filing claims after terrible storms.
He is an attorney and founder that handles exclusively property-casualty insurance. As a professional with his feet on the ground, he has traveled the country as part of his work, inspecting storm sites firsthand and helping families file the complicated paperwork required to get them every last cent they are due from their insurance companies.
“Of course, the best time to file a case after a storm is as quickly as possible. But, sometimes, there are extenuating circumstances, such as a family member that has been injured and needs your attention first or damage that does not become apparent until days or weeks later,” Hair explained.
Below is his best advice for how long after a storm you can file a claim with your insurance company, how time affects your claim’s success, the evidence needed for your claim, and how a storm damage claim lawyer can help.
The Sooner, The Better
Across the board, when filing property damage claims, the fastest filing often produces the best result. When submitted quickly, there are fewer possibilities for your company illegally denying your claim.
But, the truth is that storms often disrupt life far more than we expect, and it may be nearly impossible to get these filings done as quickly as you’d like. Depending on the extent of the damage, paperwork or computers can be lost or damaged, and other matters might take precedence over filing.
To get to the nuts and bolts of it, the filing deadline is when you actually have to get the claim in for the company to honor it. This timeline differs from state to state. For example, in Hair’s home state of Louisiana, claimants have 180 days post-storm to file for damages.
“However, this number can change and be adjusted depending on several factors: the storm’s severity, governmental advisories, and mandatory evacuations may lengthen the filing deadline,” said Hair.
But First, Evidence
Unfortunately, the burden of proof for storm property damage claims falls on the person who has already suffered the most: the homeowner. And insurance companies may try to block you from getting paid in various ways.
So, even more important than filing quickly is submitting all necessary evidence so that they have little reason to deny or refute your claim.
Gather as much evidence as possible to give your claim the best chance at success. This can and should include a detailed list of damaged items and their estimated values. If you have them, send receipts and photos of the items before they were destroyed to prove their value.
Other helpful items include repair estimates from reliable sources, communication regarding damage with times and dates, a copy of your insurance policy, and bills connected to repairs for your damage or emergency living expenses.
When to Call A Property Attorney
Though some people wait until their first denial to contact a property attorney, there are plenty of reasons to call your attorney before you file anything.
For example, if you know your claim will get complicated or will likely be unfairly denied. Another reason is if you have been through a high amount of stress, pain, and suffering from the storm, it may be best to get a property casualty attorney to handle the paperwork from the outset, so you can focus on rebuilding your life.
With this advice and the property attorneys at Insurance Claim HQ on our side with their expertise, we will sleep better at night knowing our property is protected.
About Galen M Hair
Galen M Hair, Owner at Insurance Claim HQ, is a property insurance attorney who has helped over 1,200 families rebuild their homes and businesses. He has been rated a Super Lawyers Rising Star and voted one of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100. Click here to learn more about protecting your property from disaster: http://www.insuranceclaimhq.com