Understanding Homeowners Insurance: What You Need to Know

September 27, 2023

For most people, their home is most likely the most expensive item they will ever own or purchase. As a result, whenever damage occurs to their property, waiting to find out if the insurance company will cover their claim can be an incredibly stressful situation. Considering the fact that your home is essential to your family’s safety and security, it’s important to have a solid understanding of how homeowners insurance works–– especially in Louisiana. 

Homeowners Insurance 101: The Basics

Homeowners insurance works like a contract between you and your insurance company to protect your house and property if certain unexpected or catastrophic events occur. Property claims mostly cover loss of or damage to your home and its contents due to disasters or hazards such as hurricanes, fires, or a robbery. Some homeowners insurance policies also cover liability claims in the event that someone is injured on the property.

Important Considerations for Louisiana Residents

Because Louisiana borders the Gulf of Mexico, our residents are faced with the potential threat of natural disaster every year. Hurricane Ida in August of 2021 served as a somber reminder of this fact, when thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed––many of them 80 miles or more inland. 

Affected families faced a great deal of stress in the storm’s aftermath as they attempted to navigate the complexities of their homeowners insurance claims, even as they lacked basic necessities like electricity or running water. To make matters worse, many insurance companies place special restrictions on hurricane-related damage for homeowners living in coastal areas, making it more difficult than usual to file a claim following a hurricane.

Following Hurricane Ida, a number of homeowners in Tangipahoa Parish felt that their insurance companies did more to avoid paying for insurance claims than they did to help with disaster recovery. As a homeowner, your policy is supposed to be in place to ensure that your home and possessions are protected in case of a disaster. This is why our team at Anderson Traylor Edwards is devoted to fighting for you and your family, so that you can receive the protection you deserve as a victim of a natural disaster.

What Kind of Policy Do You Need?

There are several basic forms of homeowners insurance, but the most common types are Basic Form, Broad Form, and Special Form.

A Basic Form policy insures your home, as well as personal property such as personal possessions, furniture, or floor coverings, for actual cash value. Coverage includes damage caused by specific perils, including:

  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Hail
  • Vandalism or malicious mischief
  • Theft
  • Damage from vehicles and aircraft
  • Explosion
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Glass breakage

Typically, Basic Form policies also cover wind damage, but many insurance agencies will exclude wind damage for homeowners in coastal areas if the damage occurred during a hurricane.

A Broad Form policy provides coverage for everything included in the Basic Form, with the addition of protection for damage related to:

  • Building collapse
  • Broken pipes
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of snow or ice
  • Ruptured hot water heating systems

HVAC systems and home appliances may also be insured under Broad Form policies, and it is also common for comprehensive liability coverage to be included with Broad Form insurance.

Special Form insurance is labeled as the “all risks” policy, providing protection against everything included in the Basic and Broad Form policies, and with the exception of only a few specified instances. This means that your losses will be covered as long as they aren’t specifically excluded by your policy. Generally, Special Form policies exclude damages from major hazards, like floods and earthquakes.

What Should I Do After Property Loss or Damage?

In order to maximize your chances of filing a successful claim, we recommend that you take the following steps after suffering a loss or damage to your property:

  1. If you believe a crime has occurred, report it immediately and request a copy of the police report. Losses related to theft, burglary, or vandalism must be documented by the proper authorities as soon as possible.

  2. As soon as it is safe to do so, thoroughly document any damage. If needed, cover any damaged areas, but do not make any repairs until the damage has been comprehensively documented.

  3. Do everything you can to protect your property from additional damages. Cover damaged areas and make temporary repairs as needed, but try not to remove or dispose of any damaged property until an insurance adjuster visits.

  4. Call an insurance agent as soon as possible. Ask your agent about coverage details, your deductible, and how long you have to file a claim. If you are filing a claim following a natural disaster, like Hurricane Ida, insurance companies may send representatives to centralized locations to help policyholders start the process of filing a claim. Tune in to your local emergency management directors for additional announcements.

  5. If you haven’t already, schedule a visit for an adjuster to make an inspection of your home. They will want to interview you and inspect your home on behalf of your insurance company to determine an estimate on your claim.

  6. Take inventory of any missing or damaged items, along with each item’s estimated value. If you have a receipt for any lost or damaged items, it may be included with your list. Make a copy of this list for your adjuster to keep on file.

  7. Keep any and all receipts if you need to make any repairs, cover any damaged areas, or relocate following a loss or damage to your property. Having a record of these expenses will be important if your insurance company decides to reimburse you.

  8. If your claim is denied or you receive inadequate compensation, seek assistance from legal professionals who have experience dealing with homeowners insurance cases.

Let Us Help You Weather the Storm

Suffering a loss or damage to your property can be a stressful and traumatic experience, especially if your insurance company denies your claim or provides you with less compensation than you feel you deserve. That’s why the team at Anderson Traylor Edwards is here to advocate for your family and get you the compensation you need. Contact our office in Hammond today for a free consultation.

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Need experienced local attorneys to help you get compensation for a personal injury case, handle a homeowners insurance claim, or settle an estate? Reach out to Anderson Traylor Edwards in Hammond, Louisiana today.

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