According to J.D. Power and Associates, overall satisfaction with homeowners insurance has never been higher. Most homeowners filing property insurance claims reported happiness with the outcome. That’s good news for most of the country, but it’s not so great for residents in Texas and Florida.
While the nationwide trend is up, the satisfaction of homeowners with insurance claims filed in Florida and Texas is down. David Pieffer, Property & Casualty Insurance Practice Lead at J.D. Power, said, “Particularly noteworthy, customer satisfaction in Texas and Florida—two of the areas hardest hit by hurricanes—show below-average results.” That is not surprising, as claims in the wake of severe natural disasters often take the longest to resolve.
Even if the damage to the dwelling or other affected property is not related to a hurricane, the adjustment of a claim isn’t always quick and easy.
What Do I Need to Know Before Filing a Claim?
Two things: Educate yourself on your insurance policy and be sure to document everything.
First, read your homeowners insurance policy carefully to learn what is covered under your policy and what is expressly excluded. Make sure to pay attention to any applicable statute of limitations (for example, in most instances you must file a claim within 5 years after discovering the damage). Find out what forms need to be filled out and where they should be sent. Also, see if your policy tells you how soon to expect a reply from the carrier.
Second, document everything. Before making any repairs, take extensive, time-stamped photos of the damage. Take detailed notes of every interaction with the insurance company and all damages incurred. Have all appraisals, deeds, titles, registrations, and other proof of ownership and valuation readily available. If you have completed temporary or permanent repairs, save all bills and receipts, and document the repairs in progress.
My Insurance Claim Was Denied. Now What?
If you believe your insurance claim was wrongfully denied, you should first double check your insurance policy. The denial letter should quote provisions from the policy which explains the insurance company’s basis for denying your claim. Read the denial letter carefully and refer to your policy to make sure the language isn’t being taken out of context and the cited provision is still applicable, and not overridden by any other endorsement or state specific changes.
Standard reasons for denial may be based on the homeowner’s negligence, filing the claim too late, or not providing sufficient documentation. This is exactly why the more extensive your paper trail, the better. Document any and all correspondence with the insurance company, including phone conversations, emails, and written communication through the mail. Be polite in all communication, even if you feel unsatisfied or angry. When the insurance company asks for information that’s not on hand, state politely that you are cooperating with the request and will provide the information as soon as possible. If you are unable to provide certain requested information, put it in writing why you cannot and make sure the insurance company is aware that you are complying with every request to the best of your ability. Keep communication open, making sure to cooperate as much as possible as you gather information and pursue your options for recovery.
You can always challenge and appeal the coverage decision provided by your insurance company. If you have received a coverage decision you do not agree with and wish to challenge that decision, make sure that you have effective representation on your side. Pazos Law Group often works with licensed public adjusters to help homeowners recover rightfully owed insurance proceeds from their insurance company. Sometimes, enlisting the help of a public adjuster can work wonders, as they are an impartial third-party who will work to help you settle your insurance claim without the necessity of a lawsuit. You’ll have to pay a percentage of your recovery to the public adjuster, but there are laws in place that do not allow them to take over a certain percentage to ensure the homeowner gets the maximum recovery possible for their claim.
When Should I Hire an Attorney?
Only you can determine if you want an attorney to represent you.
If you have filed an insurance claim with your carrier and received far less than needed for your repairs or a wrongful outright denial of coverage, you may still be able to seek recovery against the insurance company. When you have reached an impasse with the insurance company, or if the insurance company has stopped communicating with your public adjuster, hiring a lawyer may be your best option. A reputable law firm can review your claim and legal options to pursuing recovery.
Most insurance companies would rather settle an insurance claim with the homeowner than fight all the way through a trial. There is a Florida Statute in places that states the insurance company must pay the attorney’s fees and costs separately when a homeowner has to file a claim against its insurance company and wins. This is why hiring an attorney puts pressure on the insurance company to resolve the claim as quickly as possible.
Call Pazos Law Group today. Let us review your insurance claim and discuss legal options for recovery.