Structural engineer Paul Durand recently released the following “New Orleans Property Owner’s Bill of Rights,” which offers consumers tips on getting compensated for property claims in the wake of Hurricane Katrina:
Anyone trying to restore their lives after the latest hurricane season knows that the most difficult part of these events is not being displaced and coming back to see your home or business wrecked by Mother Nature’s fury — it is dealing with your insurance carrier.
New Orleans residents are quickly realizing that insurance companies do not have their best interest at heart. It is the insurance company’s job to try to reduce the amount of money they pay on your claim and err on the side that benefits the company, not you!
The best way to make sure that you receive a fair compensation for your claim is to know your rights as a property owner:
* To have a qualified claim adjuster personally view and submit a report on your damage claim in a timely fashion: Even if an adjuster from the insurance company has already seen your claim, you have the right to hire an outside source to inspect and create an additional report on your damage and have the insurance company pay for the report.
* To reject any offer made by the insurance company: You do not have to accept any offer that you feel is unfair by the insurance company. By law, insurance companies only have to tender an offer to their policyholders within one year.
* To claim “bad faith” by any insurance carrier that is not fulfilling its obligation to you: There is already one lawsuit filed by a Louisiana attorney against the insurance carrier AIG.
Due to the large number of claims, many insurance companies are hiring adjusters with little to no experience. Because of this, many New Orleans residents are turning to outside sources such as engineering firms or attorneys to make sure that they have someone helping them to receive just compensation.
Paul Durand from the structural engineering firm Paul Durand, P.E., S.E. (http://www.pauldurand.net) states, “Every building in New Orleans should have a structural inspection done to make sure that any underlying damage can be accounted for and repaired. We encourage everyone to have an outside professional give a second opinion.”
By knowing how the insurance system works and what you can do under the law, you will help tip the scales in your favor to quickly get your life back on track.
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