Louisiana Flooding: Requirements After a Loss and the Proof of Loss
Under a National Flood Insurance Program policy, in the event of a flood loss to an insured’s property the insured is required under their policy to comply with certain conditions and requirements, including: giving prompt notice to the flood carrier, separating damaged and undamaged property for examination; and, preparing an inventory of damaged property which includes the quantity, description, actual cash value, and amount of the loss.
Once notification of a flood loss is given to the insurance carrier, the insurance carrier will assign an adjuster to investigate the claim as courtesy to the insured. In the event of a non-catastrophic flood situation, within sixty (60) days after the loss, the insured is required to submit a Proof of Loss. The Proof of Loss is the insured’s official claim for damages. (Currently, the time period to file a proof of loss for a loss from the 2016 Louisiana flood remains at 60 days from the date of the loss. I anticipate an extension will be given by FEMA, however right now it remains 60 days.)
The Proof of Loss must be signed and sworn to, which includes the following information: the date and time of loss; a brief explanation of how the loss happened; the interests of all parties in the damaged property; details of any other insurance covering the property; changes in title or occupancy during the term of the policy; specifications of damaged buildings and detailed repair estimates, names or mortgagees or anyone else having a claim against the property; details about the occupancy of the structure at the time of the loss; and, an inventory of damaged personal property. The Proof of Loss is a single page document published by the National Flood Insurance Program and FEMA.
The insurance adjuster that the carrier hires to investigate the flood loss may furnish the insured with a Proof of Loss form, and may help the insured complete it. The insurance adjuster will also draft an estimate to support the Proof of Loss that he completes. However, this is a matter of courtesy only, and the insured must still send the insurance carrier the Proof of Loss within sixty (60) days after the loss even if the adjuster does not furnish the form or help the insured to complete it.
The policy holder must also submit a Proof of Loss within the required time period if he/she disagrees with the insurance adjusters estimate and Proof of Loss (i.e. the policyholder believes that he/she is being underpaid). This is extremely important because the filing of a Proof of Loss is a pre-requisite to a lawsuit and failure to file a Proof of Loss for the damages being denied by the insurance carrier, may preclude any additional recovery.
A Proof of Loss should be submitted with enough supporting documentation for the insurance company to evaluate the merits of the claim. Albeit a contractor’s estimate, a public adjuster’s estimate, engineering report, photos, or the policyholder’s own judgment of the value of the loss, the determination will turn on the fact of whether the supporting documentation that was submitted as part of the Proof of Loss gave the carrier sufficient information to evaluate the merits of the claim. The more documentation; the better.