Is It Covered?

If you live along the coastline of Louisiana, you are no stranger to hurricane season. Every year residents and business owners try and prepare for hurricane season by securing their properties and following the suggestions and guidelines of authorities. Even with the best preparations, homes and businesses can be severely damaged or destroyed after Mother Nature has her way. When these disasters strike, do you know if you have the right insurance coverage to cover the damages?

If you have a business, you most likely have a general liability insurance policy and possibly a Business Interruption Insurance policy. A Commercial General Liability policy is a type of insurance policy that provides coverage to a business for bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage caused by the business operations, products, or injuries that occur on the business premises. Business Interruption Insurance is insurance coverage that replaces business income lost in a disaster. Business Interruption insurance is usually attached to a property or business owner’s policy, since it cannot be purchased on its own.

In order for a Business Interruption claim to be covered because of hurricane damage several things will have to be proven:
• Was there a physical loss to the property;
• Was the property covered under the policy;
• Was it caused by a covered peril;
• Was the interruption to the business caused by the covered property damage?

What does an actual physical loss mean to the court when reading the language of the policy? A physical loss used to mean a distinct, demonstrable, and physical alteration of its structure. Now courts are starting to hold that direct physical loss is not just structural, some are including chemicals and fumes and unpleasant odors that render a building uninhabitable part of physical loss. A physical loss because of a hurricane does not mean that the hurricane damage is going to be covered. It will depend on the language of the particular policy and if it includes losses from a hurricane or if it includes a hurricane exclusion or limitation.

If you live or own a business in a hurricane prone area, it is possible that a normal HO policy or Business policy will not include hurricane or wind coverage. Hurricanes can cause many types of damage from wind, heavy rain, flooding, storm surge, tornado, and roof damage just to name a few. In areas that are not as likely to get many hurricanes this coverage is often included in a standard policy. Conversely, in areas that are more likely to experience heavier hurricane volume, these coverages are not included in a standard policy. After Hurricane Katrina, most homes and businesses south of I-10 were no longer covered by wind in a property damage policy. In order to obtain coverage for wind or hurricanes it must be bought separately from a third party company.

It is important to make sure you understand the language of your policy not only to have the coverage you need, but also in the unfortunate event that you suffer a loss and need help to get your claim paid. This information is intended for educational purposes only, it is not intended to substitute for legal advice. If you have hurricane damage claims or insurance coverage issues and need help getting your claim paid call Thornhill Law Firm today at 985-641-5010. At Thornhill Law Firm we are dedicated to serving our community, and we have the knowledge and over forty years of experience in helping people just like you to settle your claims.