Most homeowners buy homeowners insurance to be protected against property and casualty damage in the future. Frequently, even responsible homeowners don’t set aside enough funds to cover the “what-if” of a significant property damage. That’s why they purchase homeowners insurance.
A denied property damage claim will certainly complicate daily life. If your property is damaged and your insurer denies a fire damage, water damage, or cracked foundation claim, it’s important to stay calm and avoid frustration. Nobody should live in an unsafe or unsanitary environment.
Reach out to a Los Angeles property damage attorney to manage communications with your insurer, including name brand companies like State Farm, Farmers, Allstate, Chubbs, Mercury, and The Hartford.
Property Damage Claim Denials
If your insurer denies a property damage claim, remember that they are in business to make money. The insurer collects premium income and anticipates a low percentage of claims. They don’t want to pay for claims. Some insurers routinely deny the first claim as a matter of course.
Don’t give up. Review the letter from State Farm, Farmers, Allstate, Chubbs, Mercury, The Hartford or AAA, and take steps to address the denial in writing. Contact your insurance company and ask why the claim was denied. Sometimes, it’s a matter of resubmitting information that the insurance company needs to process the claim. In other cases, the format in which you submitted the information can determine the likelihood of getting the claim approved.
Contact a property damage law firm if you continue to meet with resistance from the insurance company about your claim:
Step 1: Read and Review the Claim Form with Care
Your insurance company’s claim form may be difficult to understand. Many use jargon that only an underwriter or claims adjuster can follow. Taking the time to translate the claim form can help you understand why the claim was denied. Also, review your policy.
Don’t despair. Call the insurance company and don’t offer to pay the claim yourself. Your insurer is legally obligated to inform you of the reasons the claim was denied. Ask as many questions as needed, and ask to speak with a supervisor at any time in the conversation. Request a fax number, and recap your understanding of the current claim status after the call.
If the insurance company’s representatives recommend steps, take these steps now. Follow up in a specific shortly with a letter.
Step 2: Review your Homeowners Policy
You should know that your homeowners insurance policy is a contract. The insurer specifically details your rights as an insured and how or when you are provided or denied coverage.
If your homeowners claim is denied, review the policy. If the claim was submitted as the result of fire damage, water damage, cracked foundation, or another accident that occurred in your home, you may need to ask the insurer for a new copy of the insurance policy. Note that some insurers provide online access to your policy as well.
Next, read the policy with care. Read it aloud to a partner or friend to make sure you understand the policy. Focus on:
Your rights as the insured. Make a checklist to determine if the insurer denied the claim with cause. A filing error may have occurred or a junior adjuster may have denied the claim without understanding the scope of your policy.
Your policy coverage. Review the policy limits because an adjuster may have made a mistake regarding them. Such mistakes are possible, so alert them to any discrepancies.
Take the time to read every word of your policy because it is possible to appeal the denial by arguing the terms of the contract.
Since most homeowners are uncomfortable about arguing the legal content of the policy, it might be a good time to reach out to a Los Angeles property damage attorney now.
Step 3: Prepare an Insurance Claim Appeal
Sometimes, the discrepancy between the homeowner’s claim and the insurance company is easy to identify. It’s clear that the claim was improperly denied. If so, it’s important to prove the case to the insurance company.
Collect evidence to support your position before filing an appeal. As part of the process:
Recap the facts about the incident, including date of the occurrence, extent of the damage, people involved, steps taken to prevent the event/accident, or any circumstances that were out of your control;
- Involve an independent appraiser if a disagreement over value of the property arises;
- Take many photos of the damage;
- Present other purchases made to protect the home, such as home security alarms or systems and fire safety alarms;
- Identify witnesses to support the claim;
- As above, recap all discussions with the insurance company: get names of individuals, company IDs, phone numbers, supervisor’s names, etc. Send a letter by fax or certified mail, and keep proof of delivery to the insurer.
- Present evidence that you’re a responsible and conscientious homeowner. If you were denied because of negligence, this is an important consideration to include in the appeal.
Property & Casualty Coverage in Southern California
Consider contacting the California FAIR Plan association in Los Angeles to assist with future basic property insurance coverage. The FAIR Plan makes insurance coverage available to California property owners as long basic P&C coverage underwriting guidelines are observed.
Contact a Los Angeles Property Damage Law Firm
Property & casualty insurers are under significant financial stress these days. Low interest rates have made it difficult for many to properly invest premium income and increasing disasters and claims have increased.
It is challenging to manage an insurance claim alone. Call a property damage law firm to protect your rights now.
A no cost consultation with a licensed and experienced California Property Damage Attorney regarding your unique and personal claim situation is available by calling:
1-888-LAW-3111 Monday-Friday, 8am to 6pm.
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