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Tornado Insurance Dispute Lawyer in Louisiana

Helping you repair and rebuild after tornadoes across the state and in the Gulf Coast

Tornadoes can develop quickly, seemingly out of nowhere, and cause massive devastation to anything in their paths. Classified as a wind event in most homeowners insurance policies, tornadoes and resulting damage should be covered. However, you may have deductibles or other details in the fine print that could cause your claim to be denied or cost much more than you thought.

In 2019, Louisiana ranked sixth in the nation for number of tornadoes, with 97 recorded and three fatalities. In fact, Louisiana is located in what’s called “Dixie Alley,” a tornado-prone area which encompasses eastern Texas and Arkansas across Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and parts of Missouri. If your home or business suffered damage in a tornado, your insurance company should be there to help you get back on your feet and back in your home.

If they deny or delay your claim, the Louisiana insurance dispute attorneys at Warhurst Law are here to advocate for you. We’ll launch an investigation into your claim, negotiate with the company, and, if necessary, litigate on your behalf. Our attorneys have secured millions of dollars for our clients, including an additional $2.37 million for a commercial policyholder who was originally offered $50,000. Let us help you, too.

What is a tornado and why are they so dangerous?

According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), about 1,200 tornadoes hit the United States every year. Every state in America has experienced a tornado at some point, but Louisiana’s Gulf Coast location puts it at a higher risk for these types of events.

A tornado is a violent rotating column of air, extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. Strong tornadoes can work their way up to wind speeds of 300 miles per hour, leaving miles of damage in their wake – destroying buildings, uprooting trees, throwing vehicles and anything not secured down hundreds of yards away. They can last for a few seconds to over an hour, with the average tornado lasting about 10 minutes.

Does my New Orleans insurance policy cover tornado damage?

If you live in a tornado-prone area, ensure your homeowners policy covers tornado and wind damage. Typically this sort of thing is covered in a standard policy, but it’s essential to check. Tornadoes are especially damaging because they usually come without warning, which gives you little or no time to prepare.

According to insurance broker, homeowners insurance covers certain natural disasters (also called “named perils”) like hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, and lightning. One exception to this is natural flooding. In Louisiana you need a separate flood insurance policy.

When you purchase or review your policy, determine the current value of your home and ensure you update your policy if the value of your property increases. This way you won’t find your property and belongings undervalued when it comes to filing a wind damage claim.  The attorneys at Warhurst Law can review your policy with you to confirm the details of your coverage.

Our Case Results

$11 Million Hurricane
Hurricane Katrina property damage of New Orleans apartment complex settled pre-suit.

Katrina Settlement

$2.4 Million Settlement in Commercial Tornado Claim
Warhurst Law secured $2.2 million in additional recovery for a lumber mill damaged in a tornado.

Tornado Claim

$2.226 Million Fire Loss Settlement
Warhurst Law secured more than $2.226 million in additional recovery for a Baptist Church

Fire Loss Settlement

$1.3 Million Car Crash Settlement
Client was in a car accident resulting in severe brain damage.

Car Crash Settlement

$26 Million Hurricane Katrina Settlement
Hurricane Katrina loss of New Orleans Apartment complex previously offered $3 million.

Katrina Settlement

What is the tornado F-scale?

Weather professionals and the National Weather Service (NWS) use the enhanced F-scale to measure tornado wind speeds and damage. In the past, meteorologists used a simpler version of the F-scale, but the enhanced F-scale provides a more precise way to assess damage. The F-scale (named for Dr. T. Theodore Fujita) classifies tornado damage on a F0 to F5 scale, across 28 different types of damage indicators. The F-scale goes as follows:

  • F0: Light damage to chimneys and sign boards
  • F1: Roof surfaces peeled off and mobile homes overturned
  • F2: Roofs torn off buildings and mobile homes destroyed
  • F3: Roofs and walls torn off buildings
  • F4: Buildings leveled and some structures blown a considerable distance away
  • F5: Homes leveled and swept away

Meteorologists and engineers added the enhancements in 2007 after realizing there is no “one size fits all” way to properly assess tornado damage. The older F-scale didn’t take into account the different types of buildings and their strengths and weaknesses. The enhanced F-scale provides more customized standards for assigning an F rating to different kinds of structures in order to make a more precise damage assessment. Visit the NOAA for a full PDF of the enhanced F-scale.

What damages should be covered

Property owners should ask an experienced tornado insurance lawyer to review their policies to verify they have the right coverage. The policy should cover:

  • The cost of all reasonable and necessary repairs
  • The cost of inspection reports to determine the extent of the damage
  • Living expenses if the occupants need to move while the repairs are being made
  • The value of the home if it can’t be repaired
  • The value of any damaged items such as furniture, clothing, and appliances

Our experienced Florida insurance dispute attorneys will fight to show that your policy covers the costs to replace damaged items, not just the value of the items. Replacement costs are often much higher than value costs because the items are valued as new instead of based on their age. For items like roofs, this means there is no depreciation due to the age of the roof.

Before negotiating any settlement, Warhurst Law will work with professionals who are trained to look for hidden and subtle defects which may develop into major problems if not repaired properly.

A note about roofing tiles, bricks, and other storm damage

If your home sustains some damage to bricks or roofing tiles, your insurance company may try to say you’ve suffered a partial loss. The fact is, any storm that packs enough punch to crack bricks has probably done far more extensive damage than you first realize.

The thing about bricks and roofing tiles in particular is this: they come in batches, and no two batches are alike. As such, you may be entitled to have your entire roof replaced, or to have your property declared a total loss, because these types of repairs cannot be done piecemeal.

These claims can be complicated, so contact Warhurst Law to discuss what kinds of replacements you could be entitled to through your policy.

Why was my tornado damage insurance claim denied?

When tornadoes touch down, they can cause widespread and significant damage to Louisiana homes, neighborhoods, and entire towns. Additionally, tornadoes frequently damage a property’s electrical and plumbing systems and can cause gas leaks. Your home may be significantly damaged and unlivable. Your insurance is supposed to be there to help you with repairs, rebuilding, and a temporary place to stay while your home is unavailable.

Insurance companies may attempt to deny or delay your claim in an attempt to keep from paying you the compensation to which you’re entitled. If our New Orleans attorneys find your insurer is acting in bad faith, we will take legal action against them and hold them accountable for the terms of your policy. Common reasons companies deny, delay, or lowball claims include:

  • Claiming the damages to your property are not covered by your insurance policy
  • Claiming you haven’t paid your premiums or that you haven’t cooperated with the insurance company
  • Claiming your losses weren’t caused by the tornado
  • Valuing your losses well below their actual worth

At Warhurst Law, we work with building and engineering professionals with years of experience who know how to find hidden damage and defects from the tornado that could cause significant issues down the line.

My Louisiana home was damaged by a tornado. What should I do?

After a damaging tornado, and after ensuring you and your family are safe, take these essential steps as soon as you can to build a strong insurance claim.

  • Call your insurance company and report the damage. Ask how to provide written notice of your claim (via email, fax, or mail). Even if your insurer says they don’t require written notice, do it anyway for your own records.
  • Many insurance companies will provide you with an advance on your insurance claim. Ask your insurer if they will do the same as you are likely in an emergency situation. Keep careful and detailed receipts when you spend these funds.
  • Ask your insurer if they cover temporary living expenses. They may also cover the costs of meals, laundry, and gas if you are temporarily relocated.
  • Read your insurance policy – the entire thing. Our lawyers can go over your policy with you to find out your exact coverage if you’re not sure. When you meet with an insurance adjuster and don’t understand any of the terms they use, remember to ask for clarification and take notes.
  • Record, by either photograph, video, or both, the damage to your home or business. Do not throw anything away, no matter how damaged, until you have proper evidence of every loss. Don’t rely on the insurance adjuster to provide an accurate assessment of your damages – ensure you have the proof.
  • Mitigate the damage as best you can. Cover holes in the roof with tarps, board up any broken windows, etc. If you allow the damage to get worse, the insurance company may deny your claim for not attempting to minimize your losses.

Look to Warhurst Law for knowledgeable guidance and advocacy after a tornado damages your property.

Smart and strategic tornado insurance dispute lawyer in Louisiana

Tornadoes can cause widespread and catastrophic damage over large swaths of the country. If your home or business is damaged, or destroyed completely, the attorneys at Warhurst Law in Louisiana are here to help. We step in when the insurance company denies your claim and fight to get you the funds to repair and rebuild. To make an appointment for a consultation, call 251-694-1932 or complete our contact form. We represent clients on the Gulf Coast, New Orleans, and throughout the Southeast.

* Warhurst Law cannot and does not guarantee an outcome to any case.