I have received numerous questions lately about the time the adjuster has to come inspect your home after a hurricane damage claim is filed. I have also seen a lot of misunderstandings and misinformation posted.
MYTH: The adjuster has to come inspect your home within 14 days after you file your claim.
How many days does an adjuster have to inspect my home?
According to Louisiana law R.S. 22 §1892 for a regular property damage claim, the insurer has to “initiate loss adjustment of a property damage claim within fourteen days after notification of loss by the claimant” EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF A CATASTROPHIC LOSS.
How long does a home insurance adjuster have to respond after a hurricane?
In the case of catastrophic losses in Louisiana, the insurance company “shall initiate loss adjustment of a property damage claim within thirty days after notification of loss by the claimant” EXCEPT that the commissioner may EXTEND THE TIME PERIOD for initiating a loss adjustment for damages arising from a declared emergency or disaster up to an additional thirty days.
In the case of hurricane Ida, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon extended the time to initiate on September 3, 2021 in Bulletin 2021-07 §4743.
So for Hurricane Ida insurance claims, the insurer has 60 days after you file your claim to initiate loss adjustment.
Many people believe this time limit to mean that the adjuster must be at your home physically inspecting your property within 60 days. Even the insurance commissioner’s website states this.
However, the law states that they must “initiate loss adjustment” not that they must inspect. And if insurance companies are good at anything, it’s working the wording to their advantage. Initiating loss adjustment can be as simple as calling you with a claim number, instructing you to send in your pictures, and letting you know that an adjuster will be in touch with you.
How long does the desk adjuster have to send the initial estimate after my home is inspected by the field adjuster?
Great news, the field adjuster has finally shown up to inspect your property. Now, you’re stuck waiting for the desk adjuster’s report. How long will that take?
According to the above referenced Louisiana law R.S. 22:1892, all insurers shall make a written offer to settle any property damage claim within 30 days after receipt of satisfactory proof of loss of that claim. Generally, an inspection by a field adjuster is considered a Proof of Loss.
Now this offer from the desk adjuster is not the final amount that you are entitled to receive. This estimate is often only for the actual cash value of your property. Many insurance plans cover “replacement cost.” You will need to follow up with receipts and invoices in order to be paid the difference. I will be discussing this in more detail in my next post.
Waiting for a field adjuster and then for the insurance coverage estimate leaves you in a state of limbo, and I completely understand the frustration. However, the amount of devastation in our area means that there are simply not enough adjusters available in most companies to get to everyone within the first few weeks. In addition, most adjusters are having to stay in hotel rooms hours away from the homes they are inspecting leading to additional time commuting to inspections each and every day. I have spoken to adjusters who are working 16+ hours a day, 7 days a week. So, I urge you to be understanding and not take out your frustrations on them. It’s better for your mental health and also probably better for your claim if you stay on their good side.
That does not mean that you should sit back and let the homeowners insurance company act in bad faith. The problem is that it can be hard to tell the difference between an unreasonable delay and a reasonable one during the claims process.