Articles Posted in Homeowners Insurance

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For Louisiana Homeowners, it is important to understand when and how your homeowners insurance company can or cannot cancel or refuse to renew your policy.

YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW WHY

If your insurance company decides it wants to cancel or not renew your policy, you have the right to know why. If you make a written request for the reason of cancellation, the company must respond within six months and specify in writing the reason for the cancellation or refusal to renew.

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file0002090483293In a recent case, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit affirmed a judgment in favor of a Baptist Church that caught fire, damaging a structure that had not been used for worship services since previous damage resulting from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The plaintiffs, a property investment company and an insurance company, sued the church, alleging negligence for inattentiveness in maintaining the property.   After a jury returned a verdict in favor of the church, the plaintiffs filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and a motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. These motions were denied, and the plaintiffs appealed.

At trial, the plaintiffs argued that the church was negligent for failing to maintain their property in a safe and secure manner, resulting in a defect in the premises, which led to an unreasonable risk of harm. They relied on direct and circumstantial evidence, including witnesses who claimed that the wooden pews and a hole in the roof created a fire hazard. The complaints also stated that the building was in disrepair and had been adjudged a public nuisance, and it was cited as a blighted property by the City of New Orleans.

Trial testimony centered on potential causes of the fire. An inspector with the New Orleans Fire Department testified that the origins and cause of the fire were undetermined. Testimony also included witnesses claiming that homeless people could squeeze through openings to enter the church property, although they admitted upon cross-examination that they did not see homeless people inside the church.

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The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal recently affirmed a judgment in favor of a condo association regarding their liability for fire damage to the interior of a condo unit.   The association argued that they had provided notice of the requirement that all condo owners purchase their own insurance for unit interiors, as stated in their Rules and Regulations. But the condo owner, Mrs. Lourie, argued that the association or the insurer should be held liable for the damages from a fire.

After a fire in the kitchen damaged the interior of Mrs. Lourie’s condo unit, her insurer paid $28,200.00 for damages to her unit, plus $34,330.07 for damages to the contents of her unit, and an award of $16, 645.88 for living expenses.VyqSg26J

Mrs. Lourie filed a petition for damages against the association and its insurer. She argued that under the Louisiana Condominium Act, her condo association or the insurer must reimburse her for the payments her insurance company made to her or on her behalf, and must pay her additional damages sustained to her condo that were not covered under own insurance policy. In the alternative, Mrs. Lourie argued that her condo association was liable for negligence and breach of duty if they did not obtain the insurance coverage provided by the Louisiana Condominium Act.

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Louisiana R.S. 44:4.1(B)(11) has been amended and R.S. 22:1488 added to help Louisiana homeowners figure out how condominium, residential fire, renters, tenants, mobile home and manufactured housing insurers determine their rates by requiring:

  • Homeowner’s insurers to provide data on direct incurred losses, number of policies in force, and direct earned premiums to the commissioner of insurance to aggregate and publish on the Dept. of Insurance website;
  • The commissioner to publish on the department’s website a general description of the ratemaking methodology insurance companies are allowed to use in establishing homeowner’s insurance rates.
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Recently, the Louisiana Insurance Commissioner answered some questions about insurance coverage.

“Am I covered for this?” That’s one thought you never want to have after an incident. But unless you’re familiar with the ins and outs of your insurance policies, that’s exactly what you could be left wondering. The purpose of insurance is to help protect your family and finances from life’s surprises. One way to make sure you’re covered from future losses is by periodically reviewing and updating your policy to fit your needs.

Below is a quick quiz to test your knowledge of standard homeowners, auto and health insurance policies. After you complete the quiz, scroll down to the end of the newsletter to see the correct answers.

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The Louisiana Insurance Commissioner James Donelon could learn something from his Republican counterpart Deeia Beck at the Texas Office of Public Insurance Counsel. Ms. Beck represents the interest of Texas consumers in insurance matters. Therefore, she has created a nifty online tool allowing Texas policyholders to compare coverages for homeowners, automobile, renters and condo insurance.

The tool helps consumers compare insurance company policies so that consumers will know what is covered and excluded such as plumbing leaks, mold testing and remediation and foundation damage. If the consumers own policy does not favorably compare to another company, the consumer can then consider switching to another insurance company providing the desired insurance coverage.

Hopefully Mr. Donelon will take consumer oriented measures in 2012 to create a similar online tool for Louisiana policyholders. At present, the Louisiana Department of Insurance only has an online tool to determine who is writing coverage but it does not permit comparison of policy coverages between similar competing company policies.

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If a tree falls on your house or building because of Tropical Storm Lee, you should make a claim with your own insurance regardless of whether the tree was growing on your property or another person’s property before the storm.

Fortunately, you should not have to pay a hurricane deductible since Tropical Storm Lee is not a hurricane. Make sure to take photographs of the tree before removing it from the home.

Furthermore, you should check for structural damage to your home as well as for any damage to your slab. Often times, a slab home will suffer cracks to the slab even to the opposite corner of the home.

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While some longstanding State Farm policyholders may still have a fixed $500 deductible, most Gretna, LaPlace, New Orleans LaCombe, Slidell, Little Woods, Marrero and Bush Homeowners suffering structural damage due to the Spring Hail Storms and tornadoes will probably face a deductibles based upon a percentage of the structural policy limits instead of a fixed deductible of say $500.

Homeowners, be careful as you might be shortchanged when the homeowners insurance adjuster refuses to pay your loss because “the damage is less than the percentage deductible”.

The adjuster may have overlooked hidden structural damage or mold or may have miscalculated the cost of repair. Or the adjuster may even go as far as to try improperly exlcude covered damage under a policy provision.

A Hale Damage Lawyer can assist you hiring professional to prove your claim, including engineers, mold and meteorological experts so that you can fully recover your damages, including your recoverable depreciation, debris removal costs and other damages.

The Homeowners Insurer must pay the insured homeowners “a figure over which reasonable minds could not differ” within a timer period set by law or be subject to bad faith penalties.

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Louisiana Insurance Laws are found primarily in Louisiana Revised Statutes Title 22. The laws are set forth as follows:

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In a recent Louisiana Supreme Court case involvling defendant Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, the Court ruled that filing of a Hurricane Katrina Insurance Class Action designated as a class action pursuant to LSA-C.C.P.art. 591, suspends prescription for all members of the putative class until the district court has ruled on the motion to certify the class. When notice is given, pursuant to LSA-C.C.P.art. 596, the suspended prescription period begins to run again.

Taranto v. Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.pdf