LaPlace residents battle insurance companies over severe flooding coverage

State News

LAPLACE, La. (WGNO) — Now that many homeowners have had time to look at their damage from Hurricane Ida — and start repairing it — they’re facing a new struggle with their insurance companies.

“When the water came in probably about 3 1/2 feet, it settled at 2 ½, something like that,” Spring Meadow resident Christopher M. Villagran explained.

Christopher and Stephanie Villagran’s home held water for 3 days after the storm, and their insurance company has told them they’re only paying for damages up to 4 feet. Before anything can be fixed, mold remediation of the whole house must be done by a state-certified mold remediator.

“The biggest pitfall I would say would be going in thinking they have a small bit of damage and hurrying up and closing up the walls,” said George Ferris, a state-licensed mold remediator.

If you’re trying to get to work immediately, there is something you can do.

“I would immediately start removing wet materials because those are food sources for fungal activity,” Ferris added.

What’s also important is to replace any wiring that got wet.

“What happens is the Romex cable will absorb the moisture from the water and actually suck it back into the cable,” explained Floyd Maronge with Oak Tree Electric. “Then at a later date when the cable heats up, that moisture will start boiling out of the cable and end up causing shorts and could possibly cause a fire.”

Many of the folks in the Spring Meadow neighborhood complain of being lowballed on estimates by the insurance companies. WGNO’s legal analyst Cliff Cardone says you may have to hire your own experts to get results.

“Oftentimes, you get a remediation company that comes in to clean up the damage, and then If you feel that there may be a mold issue, get that report in writing from whoever you hire and then use that to negotiate with your insurance company,” said Cardone.

The Villagrans have decided to do their best to rid their home of mold and they’re determined to take on their insurance company.

“We’re going to have to fight and rip everything out,” Villagran said. “Insulation, ceilings, wall electrical, plumbing — anything that it can grow on.”> We’ve seen several insurance adjusters in the neighborhood and the people here are generally saying the same thing: If you’re having any of the issues we talked about in this piece, you can file a formal complaint with the Louisiana Insurance Commissioner’s Office.

Contact: Louisiana Insurance Commissioner’s Office

General Information: 1-800-259-5300 or 1-800-259-5301

Direct Telephone Numbers: (225) 342-5900

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