Did you know that insurance companies will do everything in their power to minimize your homeowner’s insurance claim? Undervalued claims will leave you out of pocket if you need to make further repairs. As their customer, you deserve to receive the maximum possible payment.
Whether your home has been damaged by a hurricane, a flood, fire or any other disaster, you must act appropriately. Sadly, you can’t just leave it to your insurer. They’ll take advantage of your backseat approach and undervalue your claim.
As property damage attorneys, we’ve seen it all. Here are our top tips for optimizing your homeowner’s insurance claim:
Tips for Optimizing Your Homeowner’s Insurance Claim
Contact a Property Damage Attorney
All of the steps below are advised, but you can make your homeowner’s claim process much easier and stronger by working with a property damage attorney.
A property damage attorney tackles insurance companies and their tricks every day. They don’t fall for manipulation and know how to negotiate the best settlement offer.
They’ll also remove the stress you’re likely facing by handling all communications, from paperwork to phone calls.
If you run into any disputes with your insurer, they’ll also take the appropriate action. Some common disputes homeowners face with their own insurance companies are:
- Undervalued Claims
- Denied Claims
- Delaying tactics
- Manipulation or bullying tactics
- Incorrect policy coverage
- No or slow responses
- You’re blamed for the damage
- They claim the damage already existed.
In every homeowners insurance claim, evidence is key. Take pictures. When you’re done, take more.
Take all these photos before you clean the property or make temporary repairs.
There’s no such thing as too much detail here. From cracks in the floor to bowing ceilings and smoke stains, don’t leave anything undocumented.
You should also record detailed notes about everything you remember happening – such as when the disaster started, how long it lasted and what you heard or saw.
If possible, take notes from neighbors, witnesses and fire teams.
Finally, keep all receipts. If it’s safe to do so, that includes the receipts for your appliances. But it also includes repair bills and temporary accommodation expenses.
Remember, that before you make repairs related to mitigation or tear out, many homeowners policies require that they conduct an inspection. If you begin tear out or mitigation work and do not allow the insurance company to inspect before the work begins or tear out of the damaged items occurs, you may be subject to reduced coverage limits. One more reason to consult with a homeowners insurance attorney for your property damage claim.
Identify your Damages
You should first list everything that the incident has damaged and that needs replacing or repairing (such as appliances, furniture and electronics). As it relates to personal property, or “contents”, your list should note the date you purchased the item and the purchase price. Try to note model numbers.
Most homeowners insurance claims however fall under Coverage A, or damage to the actual home or commercial property. Be sure to document damages to your home or commercial property. For example, buckling floors after a water leak, or damaged drywall from water instruction after a windstorm. Being able to accurately show the damage will be critical in building a strong homeowners insurance claim.
Properly File Your Claim
Once you’ve completed the steps above, it’s time to file. Don’t delay. You should file your claim immediately to avoid the insurance company claiming that the delay somehow prevents coverage.
Before making a claim, read your policy to understand your coverage in detail.
Insurance adjusters regularly take advantage of homeowners who don’t know what they’re entitled to. But if you know what the policy covers, you reduce that risk.
It’s also essential that you know all the deadlines and contractual obligations. If you don’t, you could risk causing a delay in the process.
During the call, never accept a low-ball offer. This is not the time to accept an offer, as you haven’t even had the property professional assessed. It’s ok to negotiate a settlement later.
Make Temporary Repairs
Some damage shouldn’t be ignored. For example, a hole in the roof needs immediate work to avoid the rest of the house being damaged by rain and wind.
If you don’t take these immediate steps to make temporary repairs, the insurer may claim you failed to mitigate the damage – which could see your coverage reduced or denied entirely.
For example, if a broken window isn’t boarded up, you may lose your burglary coverage.
Keep all the receipts of professional repairs or materials you purchased to fix the damage. You will be able to include this in your homeowner’s insurance claim later.
Document All Communications
Ask for the insurance agent’s name and title.
If there are any problems or disputes later in the homeowner’s claim process, then this information could be very helpful. You’ll be able to refer back to the agent who previously spoke to you.
You should keep every email, letter or document you are sent. You should also take notes during your phone calls.
Get Independent Estimates
In some cases, it can feel like the insurance company has given an incorrect estimate. They use their own adjusters, so it’s sadly not rare to hear these stories.
In these cases, it can be wise to get an independent evaluation of your property. If you’re working with a homeowner’s insurance claim attorney, they will likely have the resources to help you gain an independent estimate.
You can then use quotes and estimates to negotiate with your insurance company, arguing that their settlement offer is insufficient for the required repairs.
Review Your Policy Again
Adjusters make mistakes. Sometimes these are intentional; sometimes they’re just errors.
If a claim is rejected because the insurer says you don’t have coverage, then dig out your homeowner’s insurance policy and read the fine print.
If you believe the decision doesn’t fit the policy, don’t give up. It’s time to contact a property damage attorney and solve this mess.
Contact a Florida Homeowners Insurance Claim Attorney Today
If you need to make a property damage claim or have been unfairly denied, undervalued or tricked by your insurance carrier, then contact us today.
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 insurance disputes.
Regardless of your situation, you can receive a free consultation today.