Insurance agent, commissioner have tips for tornado victims

Insurance agents aiding residents affected by tornadoes

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Just because they've weathered natural disasters before doesn't make it any easier.

"Another Katrina all over again for me," said Randy White. "I'm just devastated to see this area like it is."

White wants to prevent further damage to his roof.

"So I went, bought this blue tarp in case they don't come for a few days," White said.

That's exactly what a nearby insurance agent and Louisiana's insurance commissioner said should be done to minimize damage.

"Keep personal safety as a priority, you know? Don't get on the roof if physically you can't," said agent Derek Morel.

"You are allowed to buy supplies in order to make that temporary repair while you await on the adjuster to come to your site and document your damage and begin the claims payment process," said Commissioner Jim Donelon.

Calls are coming into Morel's State Farm office on Bullard Avenue in New Orleans East. He urges storm victims to contact their agent or insurance company right away.

"Even if you're uninsured, you don't necessarily know what to do, that's what they're there for," he said.

Morel said photo documentation helps.

"If you have a home inventory, that's going to be key," he said. "During claim time, we've got to be able to show the value of what you lost."

He also said residents should keep receipts for their purchases.

"It just helps put the puzzle back together of what you're owed," Morel said.

"Some folks will ask will water damage to my contents be covered because rain came with this horrific wind, and the answer is yes," Donelon said. "That is not a flood event, although it's water, it is covered by your standard homeowners' policy, or even commercial business policy."

Donelon says people shouldn't fear being penalized for filing claims.

"Do not fear filing a claim," Donelon said. "By law this is classified as an act-of-God event, and as such cannot be used to raise your premium or to deny you renewal at the renewal time for your policy."

And because many of the tornado victims rebuilt after Katrina and have insurance on their homes, they know that patience is a necessary part of the process.

"If you're without a roof and we want to put you in temporary housing, we want to address that before your crack in your windshield," Morel said.

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.