Each year, natural disasters impact people’s lives and leave them anguished, defenseless, and left to deal with challenging aftermaths. FastCompany reports that in 2022, 18 natural disasters cost $165 billion (Hurricane Ian accounted for $113 billion of that sum) and killed hundreds. Since these disasters are unpredictable and can cause unprecedented damage to homes and businesses, insurance normally does not provide coverage. How can an insurance lawyer address this problem?
What Can Homeowner and Business Insurance Cover in Natural Disasters?
Most of these insurance policies classify floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and similar events as natural disasters and do not cover them. In some areas, it is possible to purchase additional coverage for floods and other natural events. Depending on the policy, compensation for the following might be provided:
- Asbestos cleanup related to a natural disaster;
- Flooring repairs from water-related events;
- Mold and mildew growth remediation;
- Power and electrical repairs; and
- Relocation if your home is uninhabitable.
Once you have assessed the damage, do not throw anything out – you may secure the property, take photos, and make temporary repairs if needed. Review your policy to see what is covered and contact your insurance provider. Do this as soon as possible since there are time limits on filing claims. If your car was damaged, that might be covered under your auto insurance policy, so they may also need to be contacted.
If your losses are covered, an insurance adjuster will come out to survey the damages. It is a good idea to have an independent contractor analyze and estimate the damages in case the adjuster’s numbers are too low. If the insurance company will not work with you or denies you fair compensation according to the policy’s language, you can contact an insurance lawyer.
What Happens When There is No Insurance Coverage?
Insurance providers need to access substantial amounts of money to cover natural disaster claims, so they limit coverage and the number of policies for high-risk areas. When coverage is offered, the premiums can be pretty steep. Federal and state governments provide help when it is not offered by the private sector; an example of this is the California Earthquake Authority. Even though these programs make insurance more available to the public, the high costs of reparations make it hard to help those in need.
Insurance lawyers can also help people obtain disaster assistance, housing, and insurance relief when policies do not cover natural events. One angle focuses on human rights: The Stafford Act, Sec. 308, stipulates that application processing, supply distribution, and other assistance provisions must be carried out in fair, impartial ways. This means that there cannot be discrimination based on someone’s race, religion, ethnicity, or other protected categories.
The Stafford Act also gives the President access to disaster relief aid, so when an emergency is declared, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is authorized to organize relief resources. This helps local and state governments navigate the aftermaths of natural disasters. Unfortunately, the help does not always arrive, or when it does, the services and compensation are not adequate. Disaster coverage fraud is not unusual, nor is insurance provider underpayment.
Contact a Plainfield-area Insurance Lawyer from Herold Law, P.A., For Legal Guidance with a Natural Disaster Insurance Claim
If you have been denied insurance coverage after a natural disaster, you might still have options. To find out more, contact a Plainfield-area insurance lawyer at Herold Law, P.A. Call us at 908-647-1022 or complete our online form today. We are located in Warren, New Jersey, and help clients in Warren and the Plainfield area, as well as all of central New Jersey.