An undervalued or underpaid property damage claim can force you to pay the remaining repair bills yourself, which could be thousands of dollars.
Insurance companies are notorious for doing everything they can to minimize their outgoing costs. Remember – they’re for-profit and care more about their finances than your stress levels or bank balance.
But that doesn’t mean you have to accept their low-ball offers. You should, as a paying customer, receive the maximum possible settlement.
Here are the top red flags that your insurer has undervalued your property damage claim:
How to Know If Your Insurer Has Undervalued Your Property Damage Claim
1. Their Estimate Seems Too Low
If you feel that the estimate is too low, trust your gut and intuition. More often than not, if you suspect it’s too low, then it probably is.
A good way to be sure is to gather as much evidence and information about the damage from day one. Gather receipts and independent quotes to repair the damage.
If the insurance company’s estimate doesn’t come close to yours, they may have been acting in bad faith or made careless errors. In which case, it’s time to act and contact a property damage attorney for swift legal support.
2. The Insurance Adjuster Rushed the Property Inspection
Soon after you open your claim, an insurance adjuster will visit the property to assess the damage and determine what needs repairing or replacing. Sometimes, these adjusters will rush their job.
Whether they’re careless or have bad faith intentions, it can leave you with a lower settlement offer than you need.
If you experience an adjuster quickly walking around the property without paying attention to the details, then alarm bells should be ringing.
3. Your Insurance Claim Is Being Processed Quicker Than Expected
While everyone wants quick service after a disaster, a big red flag is if things go unusually quickly. For example, you might be given an offer the same day you call them. This might also come in a ‘take it or leave it’ style of offer.
Your settlement should cover the true value of the property damage and nothing less.
4. Damage Was Overlooked
Review the insurance settlement document carefully to ensure all damaged elements are covered under the policy.
If damage has been overlooked in your settlement offer or communications with your insurance company, you need to act.
The insurance adjuster may have made a mistake or acted in bad faith, forcing you to pay out of pocket to repair your property.
5. Part of Your Claim Was Denied
Similarly, if any part of your claim was denied, then your property damage insurance claim may be undervalued.
Denial of claims can come in all sorts of forms (which are mentioned below) and are commonly used to save insurance companies money.
If your property damage claim has been denied or partially denied, it’s not game over. The case can be reopened. Contact a property damage attorney as soon as possible.
6. You’ve Been Offered the Actual Cash Value, Instead of Replacement Costs
Your insurance carrier may also offer to pay the actual cash value instead of the full cost required to replace or repair the property.
‘Actual cash value’ is what the property or appliance is worth today, not what it will cost to replace or repair it.
7. They Claim You Caused Damage
If your insurance carrier believes or accuses you of causing damage (or failing to mitigate damage), it’s a common sign that they’re cutting out parts of your claim. For example, they may say water damage was because you left a window open – when in reality, you didn’t.
8. Repair Quotes Are Less Than Expected
It’s advised that you receive an independent quote from a contractor for repairs, so you can ensure you’re not getting undervalued by your property damage claims insurer.
If the repair quotes are less than expected, it’s time to call an attorney to avoid covering the remaining bills.
9. You’re Told Not to Contact an Attorney
If you’re warned that you can’t contact an insurance lawyer without voiding your insurance policy, then do the exact opposite!
This threat is nonsense and hints that the insurance company wants to hide its bad-faith tactics. They may be lowering your settlement payment.
10. You’re Told About a Loophole or Lack of Coverage
Another common sign that your insurer has undervalued your property damage claim is when you’ve been told about a lack of coverage or loopholes.
While in Florida, you need to be aware of the difference between flood and water damage, you should be sensitive to any claims that you can’t get coverage for certain areas of the home.
If you do hear this, there’s a good chance you’re being tricked. Carefully review your policy documents and contact an attorney as soon as possible.
What To Do If Your Property Damage Claim Has Been Undervalued?
If your insurer has denied or undervalued your property damage claim, contact a property damage insurance lawyer immediately.
They will aggressively fight on your behalf to get the maximum possible settlement, closing down any tricks or manipulation attempted by the insurer. You deserve a fair settlement and their legal expertise will get it.
If necessary, they will be able to take legal action, but in most cases, the mere presence of a reputable lawyer is enough for the insurance company to wake up and act fairly.
Read related: The 10 Mistakes You Should Never Make When Filing Home Insurance Claims
Florida Property Damage Attorneys
If your insurance carrier has undervalued or denied your property damage claim after a disaster, then our Florida property damage attorneys can help.
Attorney Jonathon Douglas leads the property damage claim team nationally ranked by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia Ross Dicus & McQuaid, P.A.
Having previously represented some of the largest insurance companies in the State of Florida, Mr. Douglas uses his inside knowledge and experience to help you navigate property damage insurance claims.
Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.