Ike Claims

As initial loss estimates following Hurricane Ike start to come in, it’s worth thinking about the insurance coverage issues that might arise in the weeks and months ahead. Attorney Randy J. Maniloff of law firm White and Williams has done just that in an article titled Hurricane Ike – First Impressions on the Impending Insurance Coverage Claims published September 13, 2008. Maniloff says there are some factors why the insurance claims picture in the aftermath of Ike should not resemble the one that emerged as Hurricane Katrina claims handling began. These include:  

  • Flood Insurance: around 75 percent of homes in Galveston have flood insurance while many fewer homes in New Orleans had the coverage. As a result, the incentive that existed to convince Louisiana courts that the flood exclusion contained in homeowners policies is ambiguous, and should not be applied, will not be as great.  

  • Wind vs. Water: Ike claims will have the benefit of the Katrina court decisions to serve as a starting point on the wind vs. water issue. Decisions by courts in both Louisiana and Mississippi resolved the issue as follows: a. damage caused exclusively by wind is covered; b. damage caused exclusively by water is not covered; c. damage caused by wind concurrently or in any sequence with water (i.e. storm surge) is not covered.  

  • Texas Homeowners Policies: The general terms and conditions of homeowners policies in Texas appear in standardized industry-wide forms. By comparison, in Katrina, there were a wide variety of policy forms at issue. This should minimize arguments on differences in policy language.  

Maniloff concludes that the sheer number of Hurricane Ike claims and human resources required to respond will present a challenge for insurers, but that the claims environment should not resemble the mess that followed Hurricane Katrina. Check out I.I.I. claims filing tips.  

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