With Hurricanes Florence and Michael sweeping through North Carolina less than a month apart in 2018, many Tar Heels have been devastated, with home, business, farm, and auto damages totaling billions of dollars.
ABC11 reports that 185,000 claims related to Hurricane Florence were filed with the North Carolina Department of Insurance, and FEMA received 80,000 claims.
If you are among those filing hurricane damage claims, you may discover that your insurance company is not as willing to help as you assumed.
While insurance companies may want you to think they have your best interests at heart, history shows that’s not always true.
Real People. Real Stories.
Insurance Delays and Denials
Two years after Hurricane Matthew damaged one Goldsboro homeowner’s home in 2016, the homeowner is ready to give up. The insurance covered “just enough for a contractor to gut the home and replace a tiny portion of her ruined contents,” according to a WRAL news report.
Meanwhile, the flooring, walls, and the remainder of her belongings were damaged to an unlivable condition, forcing her to live in an apartment while continuing to pay her mortgage. As eastern North Carolina residents were still trying to pick up the pieces from Matthew, Hurricane Florence slammed into the NC coast two years later, damaging her property further. While FEMA rejected her initial buyout application, she hopes this second round of damage will qualify her for relief.
An Ugly Trend in Hurricane Damage Claims
Undervaluing hurricane damage claims is not new to some insurance companies. In fact, this trend seems to have become the new normal.
After Hurricane Katrina all but wiped out much of New Orleans in 2005, policyholders who believed they were treated unfairly by their insurance companies complained to the Louisiana Department of Insurance at the rate of twenty thousand complaints a month during the first six months after the storm. Thousands of policyholders sued their insurance companies, with more than 6,600 suits filed in federal court in New Orleans alone.
The New York Times reported on one victim that was offered just $41,000 of the expected $100,000 in damages. Another was offered only $16,000 to cover damage that he anticipated totaling $300,000 – less than 5% of what he needed.
The New York Times described the behavior of insurance companies two years after Katrina:
“Insurance companies may have paid out $11 billion to Louisianians in the two years since Hurricane Katrina, but they have also become a new villain in the tales people tell about the slow recovery here. Every neighborhood is full of horror stories about insurance companies that reneged on their promises, offered only pennies on the dollar in settlements, dribbled out payments, low-balled the costs of repairs, dropped long-time customers and sharply increased the price of coverage.”
Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy
Nine insurance companies were accused of wrongfully denying claims and misinterpreting terms following Hurricane Irene in 2011 and superstorm Sandy in 2012. In their attempts to underpay claims, some insurance companies interpreted the policies’ definitions of ground floors and basements in ways that surprised their policyholders.
After Hurricane Irma left a swath of devastation in the Caribbean and Florida in 2017, some insurance companies left homeowners far short financially of what they needed to repair holes in their roofs and water damage in walls, reports Florida’s WINK News. One homeowner was particularly upset to see her “high accomplishment” investment of a home crumble with little support from her insurance company.
Why Do Some Insurance Companies Try to Delay and Deny Claims?
Time after time, some insurance companies have denied claims and underestimated hurricane property damages.
With roughly half a trillion dollars in cash reserves, why do some insurers force hurricane victims to put up such a fight to get what they need to repair their homes, businesses, and cars?
The stark reality is that most insurance companies are for-profit businesses. That is not wrong, it is just business. At the end of the day, like most for-profit businesses, they are looking out for their bottom line – even at the expense of unwitting policyholders.
Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin
If you have suffered hurricane damage to your home, business, or farm, you don’t have to go through the fight alone to try to recover damages.
Our law firm has fought insurance companies for our clients since 1997. Moreover, we have many employees who previously worked for insurance companies, and they are uniquely familiar with insurance company tactics. We have seen, firsthand, so many ways they can try to delay or deny claims, we wrote a book of actual client stories called Insurance Companies (and others) Behaving Badly. You can download it free and read these stories, yourself.
If you have or a loved one has been affected by the hurricane or other natural disaster, you deserve a team that will fight for you in an effort to try to get you the maximum amount you are entitled to. Call us at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us for a free case evaluation.