Tampa business warehouse fire

Fire Damage Insurance Claims

Has your insurance company failed to pay your fire claim? Have they demanded an examination under oath before they will determine if the fire is covered? If so, you need to be careful and get your own representation.

Many times, insurance companies see fire claims as arson even if you have a legitimate claim. Insurance companies have special investigation units know as SIU, that are specifically trained to detect fraud and arson. Many times, these SIU investigators get involved in the beginning of a fire claim and you don’t even know they are there in the background. Usually, insurance companies can’t prove arson but if they can prove you had a financial motive to commit arson, they will use that in an attempt to get out of paying a claim.

If the insurance company has requested an examination under oath, this request is not for your benefit. The insurance company will use this process to gather what information they can to deny your claim or try to get you to make a mistake in the submission of the claim. Florida law says that even if you have a valid claim, if you make a material misrepresentation in the submission of your claim, even if it is an honest mistake, the insurance company can use that to avoid paying you. Don’t go into the examination under oath without representation. Many times the insurance company will ask for documents and records that they are not entitled to as part of the examination under oath in an effort to determine if you do have any financial motive. This could include request for your bank statements, mortgage statement, credit card statement, 401k documentation, tax returns for multiple years, investment statements, salary information, car payments, loan payments and anything else financial. I have even seen insurance companies ask individuals to sign authorizations to let the insurance company obtain this information from banking institutions that have no limits on them and would allow them access indefinitely.

If you don’t have representation, you may not be able to stop them from getting this information. They are only entitled to this information under certain circumstances. Don’t just let them have everything and open up your entire private life if it is not legitimately related to the claim. Keep in mind that you policy requires you to cooperate with the insurance company but does not require you to just give them everything they ask for.

Even if the insurance company doesn’t suspect fraud, many times they low ball or underpay the claim. The insurance company may just want to pay actual cash value, which is the value of your item minus depreciation rather than the replacement cost. This depends on your policy language. We offer free policy reviews and can let you know what coverage you have. Don’t let you insurance company take to much depreciation or only pay you actual cash value when you are entitled to replacement cost.

Many times insurance companies also want you to fill out and sign something called a proof of loss, which is a sworn statement signed by you stating exactly what your loss is. If you don’t complete this form correctly, the insurance company could consider that a material misrepresentation and deny your claim. They also usually ask you to fill out a personal property inventory lists which require you to list each items you had in the house, the original price of the items and then the depreciation amount based on the age of the item. Many times, this can be difficult to recreate because you have just gone through a disaster and can’t remember everything you had in your draws, your closets, under the bed or in the cabinets. Also it can be difficult to recall how much you paid and how much depreciation you should take depending on your coverage. This would be included in your proof of loss and if it is incorrect, this could cause many problems for you in the claims process or during the examination under oath. Don’t go this alone. We can assist you at Christopher Ligori & Associates and make sure you get through each stage of the claims process and get the amount of money your deserve to rebuild your life and get your family back on track.