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Insurance disputes continue long after Superstorm Sandy

Most policyholders do not understand their insurance policies. Until they need them. Then, they begin to climb the learning curve. This can result in numerous policy coverage disputes, disgruntled policyholders, claims of bad faith and eventually, insurance litigation.

Insurers in Louisiana have seen this issue develop with homes damage as a result of Gulf storms that frequent the area. More recently, insurers are dealing with the large volume of claims that have arisen from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

These types of natural disasters often tease apart the differences in coverage. A homeowner may believe that their flood insurance coverage is "just like" their homeowners policy. But its coverage may be very different and could provide them with well below replacement value for their property.

National Flood Insurance Program provides coverage for floods, but homeowners may be shocked to learn that it does not cover external structures around their home, such as swimming pools, sheds and decks. It likely will not pay for replacement of their personal property at today's prices, but only the current cash value of their old property.

And they may have been underinsured, having failed to update their policies as the value of their home increased. Because flood insurance caps at $250,000 for the structure, if the property exceeds that amount, they should look into excess flood insurance to cover a gap in coverage.

Many coverage disputes are caused by homeowners who do not understand their insurance policies and the items that are covered by that insurance. While companies should always strive to explain their policies to their purchasers, anyone who lives in an area like Louisiana should take the time to examine their coverage and discuss coverage changes with their broker.

Newsworks.org, "Why many Superstorm Sandy homeowners were denied insurance coverage," Scott Gurian, NJ Spotlight, January 20, 2015

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