by Mark D. Mese
Owners of property in Louisiana continue to face problems and delays in collecting payments for property damage related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The vast majority of homeowner policies issued to insureds in the State of Louisiana, and possibly some commercial policies, limit an insureds right to file suit on insurance claims to a period of twelve months. See LSA-R.S. 22:691. The one-year prescriptive date for damages related to Hurricane Katrina is August 29, 2007. The one-year prescriptive date for damage claims related to Hurricane Rita is September 24, 2007.
Policy holders are advised to check the terms and conditions of their policies to determine whether a one-year period is applicable. If the one-year period is applicable, it is possible that insurers have entered into a formal agreement with the Louisiana Insurance Commission to extend the one-year period to a 24-month period. Insurers which have agreed to voluntarily extend the prescriptive period to a 24-month period are listed on the Louisiana Department of Insurance’s website.
Failure to file suit within the one-year period against an insurer who has not agreed to extend the prescriptive period to file suit from 12 months to 24 months will result in a loss of the right to sue the insurer, even if the insurer is in active negotiations with a policy holder. All policy holders are advised to make a determination of the prescriptive period affecting their policy and are advised to seek expert legal advice if there are any questions concerning the prescriptive date on hurricane related damage claims.