Homeowners & Business Owners Insurance Claims – How an Attorney Can Help
In the midst of trying to put your life back together amidst the havoc caused by a hurricane, you may assume you can properly submit your damages claim to your insurer and, not too long after, be compensated so you can rebuild. If only it were this easy.
The executive director of United Policyholders, which represents consumers, states, “We’ve seen too many disasters in which residents face a second nightmare after the storm passes and they start dealing with their insurance companies.” It is common for insurers, even after reviewing a carefully prepared and well-documented claim for damages to respond by making a very low-ball offer. The hurricane survivor, who desperately needs money to rebuild, may be tempted to accept the money instead of appealing and pursuing full compensation.
If this describes your situation, an attorney can help you no matter where you are at in the claims process. Rely on someone who will only have your best interest at heart and will actively work to see that you receive a fair settlement. There are several ways you can benefit from legal representation.
Helping with the Initial Assessment
Your claim should include an itemized assessment of all damage. When you suffered the loss of your home, broken windows, roof blown off, ruined floors and furniture, collapsing dry wall, you may not know how to go about itemizing all the damage. You may miss something. An attorney will help you make certain that you have listed all of your damage and not underestimated your loss.
Distinguishing Between Wind and Flood Damage
Flood damage is not covered by regular home insurance policies. It requires a separate flood insurance policy and an increased premium. Only about 5 million homes in the entire U.S. have coverage for flood damage. This means thousands and thousands in Florida are left with only wind damage coverage.
Flood damage is when the damage is caused by water coming up from the ground. Wind damage includes, of course, damage caused by wind. For example, if the wind blows the roof off of your house, allowing rain to pour in, the damage is due to wind and covered under your policy. But, if your floors and furniture are damaged because the ground gets saturated and water comes up from the ground, that is flood damage.
Another category of damage is caused by a “storm surge.” A storm surge is when water is driven onshore by wind. In cases like this, it can be difficult to determine if the damage was caused by wind or flood.
If there is a dispute with your insurance about your coverage, an insurance attorney will know the experts to consult to prove your damage was caused by wind and not by flood waters.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. Their mission is to pay you as little as they can. You can try and negotiate with them on your own, but keep in mind, they negotiate daily as part of their routine business dealings. Attorneys are also often skilled and experienced negotiators. Having a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf is the best way to see that you get a fair and complete settlement.
Filing a Lawsuit if Necessary
If your claim is denied, or if the insurer refuses to adequately compensate you, your attorney will stand ready to file the necessary legal documents to take your case to court.
At Dell & Schaefer, we understand your loss and the difficulty of rebuilding after such an overwhelming and life-threatening experience. Contact us for assistance no matter where you are in the claims process.