Insurance Companies Redefine Hurricane Damage to Refuse Claim Payments

In the wake of natural destruction wrought on the Gulf Coast by one of the worst hurricane-seasons in recorded history, the unprecedented scale of the reconstruction operation depends on a number of factors.

Regarding reconstruction, some people have decided not to rebuild. The scale of the destruction the people of the Gulf Coast have witnessed this hurricane season has led many of them to leave the area with indications they will not return.

There are other people who thought they had insurance coverage on their homes specifically designed for hurricane damage and now find that insurance companies are trying to exclude them from compensation based essentially on the definition of “hurricane damage”.

There must be difficulties – amid the obliterated coast that many compare to a war-zone – in deciphering precisely what forces cause specific damage regarding destruction that is so vast.

The insurance companies claim the policies were geared to compensate for wind-damage from the hurricane, but not for storm-surges of water that reportedly caused much of the damage – even though hurricane-speed winds caused the storm-surges that led to the flood of homes.

The insurance companies claim that storm-surges are not part of the wind-damage caused by hurricanes – at least in defending the hurricane compensation policies as they define them.

A storm-surge is a giant wave that combines the wind-speed of a hurricane with the normal tides of the sea, and heaves it upon the coast with such momentum, force, and mass that it floods the area. The tactic of insurance companies is to define hurricane damage – as incomprehensible and overwhelming as it is – by the condition of winds alone, even though they exclude storm-surges.

Whereas the insurance companies claim the policies cover the wind-damage of a hurricane, the policyholders believed that insurance would logically cover storm-surges from those winds, as well as the inseparable force of wind and immeasurable displacement of water from any hurricane.

For any insurance company that claims to provide hurricane compensation, the victims of hurricanes this season are offended by what they see as an unreasonable claim on the part of insurance companies to exclude residential damage from water and lightning. By definition, a hurricane is composed of water, lightning, as well as the wind.

For the people with insurance coverage on their homes, the damage is practically less of a technical issue to scrutinize than it is a catalyst for immediate clean-up and reconstruction so that they may continue to take care of their families in one of the basic necessities of human life – shelter.

The opposition to holding insurance companies responsible financially for compensation regarding the damage has caused recent social reverberations through political hearings and public lawsuits.

Mr. Gene Taylor, a Congressman from Mississippi, is one of the politicians seeking to ensure that the people where he is from are compensated for the damages – if only because they have already paid for the insurance that led policyholders to believe they would be compensated.

Attorney General of Mississippi, Mr. Jim Hood, is spearheading the effort to hold insurance companies – five of them currently – responsible for compensating damages to the homes of policyholders who had already paid money for circumstances such as these.

As public servants of Mississippi, Congressman Taylor and Attorney General Hood have seen first-hand the damage, and they can relate to people as human beings who have needs instead of mere policyholders who did not buy a more comprehensive hurricane-coverage policy.

If the insurance companies cannot find the resources to pay for the terms and conditions of the agreements that they designed, then it cannot be the fault of the policyholders who paid their money and signed their names on the dotted line.

The insurance companies have a legal obligation to fulfill the agreements they designed regardless of where the miscalculations occurred. The insurance companies offered these policies and collected money for the execution of insurance service.

Homeowners wanted to ensure that they would be compensated for the damages of a hurricane because of vulnerability on the Gulf Coast. Now that the hurricanes have come and homes have been damaged, policyholders are most angry because they have paid money in advance for this service that is now being refused in a time of great need.

Reconstruction of a region as large as the Gulf Coast is almost too much to envision. Essentially, the work of reconstruction is completed one home at a time. Before anything can be built on a site, the rubble and waste of the old structure must be removed.

Rebuilding may take much longer than necessary so long as the problem of who is going to pay for specific site clean-up and the construction of new homes pervade the nation’s capital and some of its court-rooms. The insurance companies have made the political and legal process necessary by refusing to cover the damage to homeowners.

Primarily, the financial issue that halts reconstruction on a mass-scale is whether the insurance companies, the government, or the people – who finance each of them – will be left with a financial debt that only supplements the damage they have already suffered.

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