During Hurricane Season, Rains Come Down and Claims Handling Ramps Up


By: Justin Boron

With the dog days of summer here and Hurricane Elsa bearing down on parts of the Gulf Coast, it’s worth a reminder that hurricanes precipitate—in addition to other weather phenomena—insurance claims.

The claims handling insurance laws as well as court systems along the Gulf Coast are some of the most sensitive to ensuring that property owners and property insurers appropriately communicate and resolve claims and any related disputes after hurricane disasters.

For example, after Hurricane Katrina, insurers encountered substantially higher jury verdicts in cases in which claims handling was at issue.  Louisiana statutory penalties can, depending on the circumstances, increase an award by as much as 50 percent of the amount owed under the policy and up to and including two times any special and general damages to the insured.[1] Mississippi also can be seen as very protective of property owners, with three different levels of recovery in insurance claims.[2] Alabama and Florida too—with their respective compensatory and punitive damage regimes for addressing claim handling liability.[3]

Hurricane Katrina enhanced property owners’ and insurers’ responses to mass disasters like hurricanes. Each year at this time, it’s good to review best practices for claims handling for hurricane property claims. Among them are the following:

  • Promptly let both the insured and the insured’s agent know formally and informally that you received the claim, assigned an adjuster, and are handling the claim
  • Use automated technology to notify the insured of a change or event in the claims process
  • Be prepared with staffing levels to initiate investigation and evaluation of property damage claims as soon as it is safe to do so
  • Request a damage estimate from the insured’s contractor
  • Appropriately select and assign large loss claims adjusters
  • Keep well-documented claim files
  • Calendar state law deadlines (and be aware of deadlines created by case law, statute, and regulation) for payment of claims and other benchmarks throughout the investigation
  • Engage counsel to assess hurricane insurance coverage issues and communicate coverage decisions promptly and within legal deadlines for paying claim

If you have questions, please contact Justin Boron at

[1] La. R.S. 22:1892, 22:1973.

[2] Briggs v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 673 F. App’x 389, 391 (5th Cir. 2016).

[3] Ala. Code § 27-12-24; Florida Statute 624.155.