LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - If your property endured damage during the extreme winter weather last month the Louisiana Department of Insurance says you file a claim as soon as possible so an adjuster can come out and inspect it.
The process for filing a claim for winter weather is generally the same as filing a claim for hurricane damage, although your policy may have specific exclusions for some winter weather hazards.
“While many of us have had to file an insurance claim at some point, previous experience with a Louisiana claim for a winter weather event is unlikely,” said Commissioner Donelon. “The important thing is to take pictures to document any damage you believe is due to the winter storm and to get in contact with your agent or insurer to see if you have a claim for it.”
Some examples of situations where you could file a winter weather claim are:
- Slip and falls. If anyone in your home or a visitor fell on your property as a result of ice, it may be a covered event depending on the circumstances.
- Roof damage. For many people, this extreme winter weather brought about roof damage from things like trees or limbs falling on a roof or “ice dams.” Ice dams occur when ice forms between a gutter and the edge of the roof, lifts up shingles, and allows water to get inside someone’s home and melt, causing both water damage and roof damage.
- Burst pipes. With power outages all over the state, some people may have experienced pipe freezes or bursts due to multiple days of sub-freezing temperatures. Burst pipes can cause major water damage and if not promptly recognized and addressed can also cause mold damage. Sudden, unexpected pipe breaks are generally covered events on homeowners’ policies, provided the property owner did everything they could to mitigate their damage. Policyholders should inspect their properties carefully for signs of leaks if they were away.
Coverage for any winter storm damage may depend upon what steps you took to mitigate any risks. For example, insulating pipes, clearing gutters, and checking for tree limbs that may not be able to bear the weight of ice.
You should consult your insurance agent about the deductible that applies in your situation and inquire about how much time you have to file a claim and proof of loss.
Insurance policies determine how long policyholders have to file a proof of loss, and deadlines are contained in your policy. Under Louisiana law, policyholders have not less than 180 days to file proof of loss after a catastrophe for which a state of emergency has been declared in the area where the damage occurred.
For reference, on Feb. 11, the governor declared a state of emergency, and on Feb. 18, the president approved the governor’s request for a federal emergency declaration for all 64 parishes.
If you have additional questions about filing a winter storm claim after speaking with your agent, you can call the Louisiana Department of Insurance at 1-800-259-5300 or visit their website at www.ldi.la.gov.