Thousands of people file complaints against insurance companies for defaults on Ida’s payments

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“We are months away from the storm and people are still trying to get their lives back on track. “

NEW ORLEANS – It’s been four and a half months since Hurricane Ida hit, and there are still families waiting for insurance payments to fix their homes.

And now more and more victims are turning to the state insurance service for help or asking a lawyer to speed up the process.

Kamri Butler says his house in Algiers is exactly the same as the morning after Hurricane Ida. There is structural damage on the outside. The shed in the yard had to be demolished. Inside, the floors are gone, the walls are damaged, and plasterboard and insulation are falling out of a hole in the roof.

“We are entering a new year with the same damage as September with the hurricane,” said Kamri Butler, 23.

A week after the August 29 storm, they called their insurance company. The claims adjuster was released four months later in December.

“They told us that part of the damage would not be covered,” she said.

It was then that they decided to call a lawyer.

“We needed to work. We figured if we put the insurance company on a little fire, you know, they’d be willing to help us a little bit quicker, ”Butler said.

Lawyer Wynton Yates says calls from frustrated homeowners are increasing.

“We are months away from the storm and people are still trying to get their lives back on track,” said Wynton Yates, lawyer for the Kherkher law firm.

He says most homeowners are unaware of a Louisiana law meant to protect them from long waits.

“The law is quite simple. If the insurance company doesn’t pay you within 30 days of the adjuster coming to your home and seeing the damage, on day 31, they owe you up to 50% more on your claim, plus attorney fees, ”Yates said.

If you take advantage of this law and get paid more, are you at a higher risk of having your policy terminated?

“Insurance companies are not supposed to target you as an individual to enforce state law,” he said.

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon has clarified the law.

“They have to pay you within 30 days of your submission of a ‘satisfactory proof of loss’ and that is a submission on a form,” Donelon said.

Donelon added that this penalty is at the discretion of the court.

“They must determine that the adjustment by the company was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable in order to add these penalties and attorney fees,” Donelon said.

Meanwhile, he asks homeowners who are having trouble securing insurance settlements to file a complaint with his office. Already 3,000 have arrived after Ida.

Donelon also says that even when an insurance company considers a case closed, it is not until you receive full compensation for your covered losses.

Phone number and link for the state office: 1-800-259-5300 or you can visit their website for more information.

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