BATON ROUGE – Attorney J.R. Whaley knows a few things about natural disasters. After all, the people of Louisiana have been through their fair share of them since 2004.

So it’s not that surprising that the people recently affected by Hurricane Matthew in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida would enlist the advice of Whaley, who has represented numerous clients with their homeowner and flood claims from natural disasters in Louisiana.

Whaley was the guest speaker in a webinar on Nov. 7 that featured audience members in the affected areas hit by Hurricane Matthew last month.

"We are two or three months' ahead of recovery than in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida," Whaley told the Louisiana Record.

Just two months ago, the Baton Rouge area was inundated with 36 inches of rain.

"In Louisiana, we are used to these natural disasters," Whaley said from his Baton Rouge office. "In August, it was an incredible event. We are used to a lot of rain and water in Louisiana, but no one was ready for this.

"It was a tight system and it just sat over Baton Rouge and it just saturated the entire geographic area.’’

So what kind of advice did Whaley have for the hurricane victims?

"It is critical the insured receive the full amount they are due," Whaley said. "You have fulfilled your part of the contract by paying the premiums, now the other side has to fulfill its obligation."

And so what should the claimants do to make sure they receive the full amount?

"Document, document, document,'' Whaley said. "Take plenty of photos. And if you think you have taken enough photos, take some more. Make sure you document all the damage before demolition occurs."

Whaley also stressed that all deadlines be strictly obeyed in the filing process.

"A deadline is a deadline," he said. "After the deadline passes, there is not a lot you can do to get the money you think you deserve. It is really too late. Make sure you know your rights."

Whaley also told those in attendance to check the adjuster's report. There are times when adjusters may make more than five trips a day to different residences and there is a chance there could be errors in those reports.

"You want to make sure the adjuster gives you everything your policy says you are entitled to,'' Whaley said.

Also taking part in the webinar was insurance attorney Tom Young, based in Tampa, Florida.

In his blog, Young addressed some of the basic facts of homeowner and flood insurance.

"Remember that resolving your flood insurance claim is a negotiation with your insurance company,'' Young wrote in his blog.

Young also advised residents and business owners to hire their own adjusters instead of using the ones hired by the insurance company.

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