Hurricane claims are never easy for the person who has the damage. Often times, the insurance company does not make the experience any easier. Has your insurance company delayed the adjustment of your claim? Have they attempted to low ball you in your hour of need in an attempt to get you to take something you shouldn’t? Have they denied your claim for interior damage? Have they said they will only patch your roof rather than replace it? Are they refusing to match your tile or paint? Are they blaming you for not doing certain things during the claim’s process?
Naturally, insurance companies owe homeowners and building owners a duty to fairly and honestly adjuster the claim. What many people don’t know is that they also have duties under the insurance policy after a hurricane loss. Many times, the failure of the homeowner or building owner to comply with their duties after a loss has occurred can cause problems. In order to prevent these problems, you should read your policy to determine what you must do after a loss before the loss happens so you are familiar with your responsibilities if a hurricane damages your property.
You as the insured must promptly let the insurance company know about the loss. Don’t wait days, weeks or months. This will only hurt your claim later. You must protect the property from further damage. This means that you may need to tarp the roof or board up any broken windows. If there are some minor repairs you can do to protect the property, you should do them and keep any receipts showing the cost to submit to the insurance company.
If you have personal property that was damaged due to the hurricane, like furniture or clothes, you need to prepare an inventory list of those items that were damaged, listing how many were lost, a description of the item, what you believe the item is worth and submit receipts for the items if you still have them. Don’t throw away these items until the insurance company has seen them.
If the insurance company asks to see the damage or inspect the property, the policy requires that you let them. If they ask for documents like contracts for repair, inspection reports, receipts, or any other documents, if you have them you need to provide them when they are requested. The insurance company is not entitled to originals but they are entitled to copies. If they request what is called an Examination Under Oath, or EUO for short, don’t refuse. This process is like a deposition but the Rule of Evidence don’t apply. Because of this, I would recommend that you contact an attorney to assist you through this process but if you refuse to go to an EUO, it could potentially allow the insurance company to get out of paying your claim.
If the insurance company asks for a document referred to as a Proof of Loss, you must provide that as well. Some policies have a time period, like this one that states you must submit one within 60 days after being requested to do so. Other policies don’t have a time frame so always check your policy. This is a sworn document in which you must list your total amount of damage you suffered. If you fail to get this figure right or attempt to inflate the figure in the hopes of getting more than you actually deserve, the insurance company could void your whole claim on the basis of fraud even if you have a valid claim. If you have questions, about this document, please contact someone like an attorney.
If you have complied with your duties after the hurricane loss, the insurance company must comply with their duties as well. Insurance companies are not wanting to pay for roof replacements claiming they can just patch the roof. Statutes and codes require a roof replacement depending on how much of the roof is damaged and many times trying to make a roof patch match the existing roof can be a huge issue. Man times insurance companies do not want to pay for interior damage saying there is no opening caused by the wind. Don’t just accept this. If you have coverage for the interior, insurance companies are failing to match items in your house like tile, paint and kitchen cabinets. Even if they extend coverage for a claim, insurance companies are simply not paying enough to allow you to repair your home. It can also be hard to get the insurance company to pay for your hotel if you had to stay somewhere else or pay for the cost to eat out or other extra expenses you incur.
If there is the case, allow Christopher Ligori & Associates to give you a free review of your policy and claim. We make sure insurance companies pay the full amount of what they owe so that you can protect your family and put your life back together. Don’t just accept what the insurance company offers and walk away. Before you make any decision, let us review things for you and allow you to make an informed decision.