While surveys show that nearly 80 percent of claimants reported no hassles with their insurer, homeowners with bigger losses were more likely to run into difficulties. For example, 6 percent of those with claims of any size disagreed with their insurer over dollar damages compared with 10 percent who had claims of $20,000 or more. Those in the $20K-plus club were also more likely to experience a delay in payout.
4 Essential Tips on How to Resolve a Claim
1. It’s up to you to take the initiative
There are many reasons for disagreements over property insurance claims, so be prepared to take action to ensure your claim is paid. Patience, persistence, and attention to detail are key. Start by documenting your claim with photos and written estimates. A contractor whose estimates are detailed about the costs of construction should help. Follow up promptly in dealing with the needs of insurance adjusters. Don’t automatically accept the adjuster’s interpretation of the contract should the claim be denied. If he or she says your policy doesn’t cover certain damage, ask to see the specific contract language. Remember, you’re entitled to a written denial from your insurance company.
2. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion
Disagree over the damage amount? Bring your contractor and the insurance company adjuster together to go over the estimate line by line. Still can’t see eye to eye? Ask another independent contractor for a second opinion or hire representation.
3. Consider hiring a Public Adjuster
Qualified public adjusters inspect every aspect of the claim and serve the client, not the insurance company. A public adjuster can negotiate for you, generally for a fee of up to 10 percent (or sometimes higher for supplemental claims), depending on state limits and whether the claim is related to a declared emergency. Find a public adjuster by using the website of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters or search corresponding state public adjuster associations. Look for good references, notable experience for your type of loss, relevant licensing, where necessary.
4. Hire a Qualified Attorney with Experience in Property Insurance Disputes
Another option to resolve disagreements with your insurance company is to attorney. Experienced attorneys understand how to interpret policy provisions, properly document and present your claim to the insurance company. In the event the claim cannot be resolved through negotiations, the attorney can file suit for you. Most claims brought against an insurance company also allow for the recovery of attorney’s fees. Therefore, if your attorney is successful proving the claim is owed under the policy then you would be entitled to recover attorney’s fees. Before you contact an attorney, have all of your documentation organized and be able to present your case clearly. This will allow the attorney to better understand the issues and help you determine your best options under the law.
More information concerning obtaining insurance coverage in general, claims which may or may not be covered, as well as the filing and presenting of an insurance claim can be found here:
My wife and I thought we were heading into a complicated legal odyssey with a destroyed commercial property until we hired Bill Kendall. His sustained focus and hard work was so effective that we had a great settlement within hours of the first deposition.F. Jones - Commercial Claim (Dallas, TX)