I am a Theology Professor at Xavier University of Louisiana, and recently Allstate called me a liar.
I didn't appreciate that much. Our New Orleans' house was severely racked by the winds of Hurricane Katrina on August 29th, 2005. I was in the house during the storm and it was like being on a large boat rocking back and forth. After the winds died down, the house leaned quite a bit to the SSW. Thankfully I have video tape of the severe winds, because on May 4th, more than 8 months after we filed our claim, we learned that Allstate was denying our claim. Their decision was based on a report by Haag Engineering
out of Dallas. This report actually claims that it wasn't windy enough to rack houses during the hurricane, and they say our house was leaning like that before the storm. It also refers to our house as "the Wilson house" showing that Haag Engineering is recommending the denial of several similar claims. Oh, how I would love to meet these Wilsons ... I would call every Wilson in the phone book, but unfortunately, hardly anyone in New Orleans has the same phone number as before the flood. The report also says that the flood waters didn't cause structural damage because our 100-year-old floorboards are in OK condition. My family and I have extensively documented with a journal the hundreds of unreturned calls we made with Allstate, and the difficulty we had in just getting an adjustor to see the risk. We have also documented extensively with pictures and video that the house was straight before the storm, and severely leaning now. So now we're fighting back
. I filed a lengthy and well documented complaint with the Insurance Commissioner in Louisiana. We're in the process of selecting an attorney to handle our bad faith claim in court, and also I'm getting politically active. Paige Rosato, an attorney in Mandeville, is one of the people leading the fight against the insurance industry. It seems that our LA state legislature has been in the pockets of the insurance lobby. So on May 31st I will be going to Baton Rouge to testify to the Senate on Bill 620. This legislation, put forward by Senator Murray, would increase the penalty if insurance companies don't pay claims in a timely manner. By law insurance companies are supposed to respond to claims within 30 days. As it now stands with Allstate, it would cost about $100,000 to fix the structural damage of my house. Since they denied my claim, I'll have to take them to court. If we won in court, which I'm confident we would, my attorney fees would be approximately 25-35 percent of the settlement. So I would still have to come up with the funds to finish the work. It doesn't sound fair to me, and of course the insurance agency is fighting this and other similar bills ferociously. So I would invite anyone in a similar situation to come to Baton Rouge on May 31st if you can. I would also encourage everyone to pay close attention to what is happening down here in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. When something unfortunate happens in your neck of the woods, you'll be counting on your insurance to be fair. Believe me when I say that Allstate has been anything but fair.
Michael M. Homan