Your home or business is affected by a disaster: a hurricane; fire; flood – whatever. Homeowners and businesses often have insurance to protect against disasters, and deals with the insurance company often go like butter. This is great news. However, there are other times when an insurance company gives its client the shortest part of the stick.
Most worryingly, I discovered in my work that all too often a home or business owner, used to sharpening his pencil in other negotiations, meekly accepts any check issued by the insurance company. Home and business owners, especially small and medium business owners, need to understand and approach agreements with their insurance company as a negotiation and defend their corner.
As an expert in the field of insurance provider breach of contract and bad faith practices, my colleague Scott Hunziker provided me with the top ten red flags that suggest that a home or business owner may consider hiring a lawyer to help make sure everything goes smoothly. (These representations are generally contingency fee agreements; you only pay the attorney if things go well):
The red flags:
1. The insurance company refuses to respond to your claim, or the evidence it provides in support of it;
2. The Carrier continues to seek additional materials from you, even if they are unrelated to what you are claiming;
3. Delays and delays by the carrier in sending the adjuster to your home for the property inspection;
4. Carrier’s designated field adjuster comes to your property and refuses to raise the roof or conduct a thorough inspection because “he knows there are no damaged homes in this area of the city / neighborhood”;
5. The field adjuster designated by the carrier arrives and states or suggests that the carrier that assigned it “will not allow you to pay a specific item of damages claimed for that particular storm”;
6. Carrier’s field adjuster admits to having observed covered damages, but is then assigned a new adjuster without giving a reason;
7. The carrier begins by sending an engineer to the property to fight causation, rather than simply sending a field adjuster to determine the damage amounts;
8. You are faced with a continuous carousel of ever-changing desk adjusters, who are always “getting familiar with your file”;
9. You receive a small undisputed payment for damages, then a series of additional checks for “previously unnoticed additional damages” (each check acts as a concession that your previous payment was incorrect); Y
10. You receive a series of letters from the insurer that continue to add new excuses for denial or underpayment.
If you see one or a few of these flags, you may consider taking someone to your corner. We have found that when insurance company attorneys find out that they are dealing with an attorney from the other side, it is not uncommon for sunlight and bluebirds to be the result. The key is to get a fair result as quickly as possible so that you can move on with your life.
Here are just a few examples of home and business owners who did well after bringing an advocate to the table on their behalf:
When a family restaurant lost its entire business in a fire, the tragedy was compounded when their supplier informed them that their coverage was considered poor and offered the family zero dollars. The family tried to remedy the situation themselves with little success, comparing legal obstacles to brick walls rather than speed bumps. However, when the family hired a lawyer, the problem was resolved in a matter of weeks. Did the ending work out? A $ 225,000 settlement. Happy day.
In another situation, a married couple had suffered storm-related losses when the tile roof of their family residence was severely damaged. The insurance provider again offered zero dollars to homeowners. The couple had been trying to hire their insurance company for a year and a half before hiring a lawyer. It turned out to be the right choice, as the family ended up with a $ 160,000 offer from the supplier in record time.
When disaster strikes, it is always preferable for an insurance provider to do what is expected of them. However, that’s not always the case, and going head-to-head with an insurance company can be a daunting task. The key to sunlight and bluebirds? Make sure your interests are adequately represented.