As those who live on the Louisiana, Texas and Alabama coasts know, hurricanes and even strong tropical storms can cause damage in a variety of ways. The more intense the hurricane, the faster the wind blows, and therefore the more likely it will be that property sustains wind damage.
On the other hand, hurricanes also dump a lot of rain on the areas they hit, sometimes leaving feet of water in their wake. Moreover, given the storm’s so-called surge, severe coastal flooding will also take place in a major storm.
For property owners, it probably does not matter on a practical level whether their valuable investment was ruined by the wind or the water. However, when it comes to hurricane property damage insurance claims, the difference can be critical.
The reason is that many common property policies will cover some of the wind damage from a hurricane, but they will not cover flooding or other damage related to water. There is an important exception to this rule, however, and this is that many policies will cover water damage if the only reason water entered a building was because the wind first compromised the structure.
Thinking about it, a resident of the Gulf Coast can probably see how these rules and agreements can lead to serious legal trouble. On the one hand, an insurance company and those with whom they contract to process claims will have an incentive to attribute storm damage to water if at all possible. For property owners, it is better that if their property gets destroyed or damaged all, it be because of the wind, as wind is a covered loss.
Resolving these sorts of questions often involves having some knowledge and experience both with the law and with engineering. In this respect, our law office is in a particularly good position to help clients get a successful result on these types of claims.