Tips on filing insurance claims after Hurricane Zeta

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 12:45 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Many on the Coast will file some sort of insurance claim in the wake of Hurricane Zeta.

Andy Case, the Director of Consumer Affairs with the Mississippi Department of Insurance, talked to WLOX on Friday about filing insurance claims for storm damage.

For many, this is the first time in a long time that a storm has left so much devastation behind. Case offered some advice for those are filing claims for the first time or who haven’t done it in a while.

“Hurricane Zeta surprised a lot of us with the amount of damage it brought... We had a lot more damage than what we anticipated. We’ve had a significant claim activity; we’ve heard from several insurers now and they’re getting heavy call volume. So the best thing I can tell folks is to contact your agent, contact your company, get that claim reported and get in line because there will be a lot of folks needing assistance from their insurers.”

Because it’s been a while, some things have changed since many people last had to file claims for damage.

“You have to remember, since Katrina, the deductible situation has changed not only in this state, but in many states,” explained Case. “Now, many insurers have a percent deductible. So rather than a standard $2,500 or $5,000 deductible, when you have a named storm peril that causes damage, most people have a percent deductible that applies.”

“It may be 2%, it may be 5%, and that’s a percent of the dwelling. So understand that your deductible will be different. Make sure you talk to your agent, you look at your policy closely, and you realize how much up front out of pocket costs you’re going to have because a lot of the damage we saw all day (Thursday), some was severe, some wasn’t. So if you’re talking about a loss of shingles or whatnot, that may not be enough damage to broach that deductible threshold but if you lost shingles and water penetrates the roof decking and got inside the house, it may be. So just understand what your deductible is before you make a claim.”

Thousands of people across South Mississippi have lost shingles and have some type of storm debris, from downed fences to fallen trees and more. It’s important to note that some of that damage may not be covered.

Additionally, the cost of living assistance is another hindrance to many who needing to make major repairs and rebuild.

“For those who are displaced, many of these policies will provide what’s called additional living expenses. ALE’s is what we call them," said Case. “What that does is it provides the policy holder with some financial resources and assistance for the necessary increase cost of being displaced... And what I mean by that is if you’re in a hotel and you find yourself having to eat out and you feed your family at restaurants and whatnot, that coverage will give you some coverage over and above your normal expenses. So if you normally only spend $300-$400 a month on groceries and now you’re spending $700 eating out, it will cover that cost as well as the cost of the hotel. So, if you’re displaced understand how that works, reach out to your insurer and let them know you’ve got an ALE claim.”

Additional assistance may be offered to people who qualify for help from FEMA. A website has been set up but the link has not yet been posted with information on how to apply for aid from FEMA. Once that link is active, you will be able to find it HERE.

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