On August 26, 2021, President Biden declared a State of Emergency in Louisiana due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a State of Emergency for the same reason.
The storm caused devastation to the lives and property of many Louisiana residents. The residual effects of Ida will continue to pose a notable risk to Louisianians' health, safety, and welfare for the foreseeable future.
It's been more than a month since Hurricane Ida struck. Despite the impact of the storm on Louisiana residents, people were far better prepared for Ida than they were for Katrina. It is important to compare the damage of these two historic storms and explain recent changes in the Louisiana property insurance market.
This comparison will help inform Hurricane Ida policyholders about ways to obtain a full recovery from their property insurance claim.
Hurricane Katrina vs. Hurricane Ida
Hurricane Katrina in 2005
We're confident you remember Hurricane Katrina. The National Hurricane Center says it caused 1,577 deaths in Louisiana. It generated an estimated $161 billion in property damage and is considered one of the most disastrous storms in the history of the nation.
- The storm came roaring up the Gulf Coast as a Category 5 storm, then weakened to a Category 3 before pummeling 90,000 square miles of land from Texas to Florida.
- In New Orleans, 80% of the city flooded.
- Economically disadvantaged neighborhoods were most vulnerable to the storm's damaging water and winds.
- Many people lost their jobs. Many lacked property insurance coverage. The area faced a long and difficult recovery.
Reported Losses & Claims
Katrina damaged or destroyed:
- 850,000 homes on the Gulf Coast
- At least 300,000 vehicles
- And 2,400 ships and vessels
Hurricane Ida in 2021
Ida was one of the most powerful and quickly intensifying storms ever to strike the United States. Ironically, it made landfall in Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Katrina. It was less deadly than Katrina, as it was primarily a windstorm that typically causes fewer fatalities than flooding.
- Hurricane Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon as a Category 4 storm, with sustained winds of 150 mph — just a few mph below a Category 5 storm.
- Ida churned inland, with torrential rainfall, catastrophic winds, tornadoes, and flash flooding.
- Locals witnessed a life-threatening storm surge along the coasts of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Losses & Claims
The total damage caused by Hurricane Ida is still being tallied. So far, officials report at least 28 deaths in Louisiana and 50 deaths across other impacted states. In comparing the respective damages from Ida to that of two other recent storms, Laura, and Delta, we do know that:
- Hurricane Ida devastated Louisiana's power grids.
- A regional blackout affected at least 1 million customers, including the entire city of New Orleans, during the sweltering summer heat.
The Ida storm damages were mainly attributed to the wind only rather than the wind and flooding experienced during Katrina, and the peril of wind is covered under “Named Storm” on most property insurance policies; whereas flood is not, as a result, those without flood coverage will not be covered.
Kristen Mosbrucker of The Advocate, a Baton Rouge newspaper, reported on September 3, 2021, that 28,000 property insurance claims had been filed in Louisiana alone. But the swaths of property damage are more widespread than Katrina's centralized flooding.
With such extensive areas of covered damage, it's easy to see why many insurance companies and the adjusters who work for them are finding it very challenging to get their customers’ insurance claims paid.
Public Adjusters are Fighting for Fair Insurance Practices and Claims in Louisiana
To aid policyholders, Louisiana launched Act 345. It's meant to ensure that property owners can choose their vendors and contractors for repairs, and states that insurance companies must pay the contractors' overhead costs.
In August 2021, The Louisiana Department of Insurance adopted Rule 47, making it impossible for insurers to cancel or non-renew property policies in storm-damaged areas. Rule 47 expires on October 24, 2021.
In addition, Louisiana property owners have the right to seek third-party assistance regarding property insurance claims. A public adjuster can help prepare, advocate, negotiate, and process insurance claims for both residential and commercial property owners.
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