Are you about to file a property damage insurance claim? Stop! Don’t begin until you’ve educated yourself on these top 10 home insurance claim mistakes!
First up, you must know the truth about insurance companies – they’re for-profit and care far more about their profit margins than you! They’ll do anything in their power (and more) to undervalue your claim or outright reject it, leaving you to pay tens of thousands of dollars for property repairs.
Here’s what you shouldn’t ever do when filing an insurance claim:
1. Forgetting to Read Your Policy
Your insurance carrier will try to take advantage of you if you aren’t aware of your home insurance policy. As you won’t know what is covered, there’s a good chance they’ll say what happened isn’t part of their coverage or that your home falls into a loophole.
So make sure you read the entire homeowner’s policy contract, including endorsements. If you still find that the insurance carrier makes false claims, or tries to confuse you, then call a property damage lawyer for professional assistance.
2. Waiting Too Long to Inform Your Insurer
If your property has suffered damage, contact your insurer immediately.
A delayed report can give your insurer time to make false claims such as “you failed to timely report your claim” or “you failed to mitigate the damage”.
Plus, most homeowner insurance policies have conditions that require timely notice of damage. Finally, the sooner you inform your insurer, the quicker those repairs and payments can happen.
3. Failure to Document Enough Evidence
Evidence is essential in any insurance claim. But the common home insurance claim mistake is not gathering enough evidence!
You must take photos of everything, from the glaringly obvious to slightly damaged appliances or your damaged doors and windows. Then when you’ve taken them all, take some more! Take a video and record what happened on the day of the incident.
You should also inventory all the damaged and undamaged property, including repair costs and purchase price. If you can enter your home safely, gather any receipts too.
Finally, document every communication you have with insurance adjusters and representatives. Keep a list of their names, contact information and the time and date of each call. Safely store all paper documents.
4. Discarding or Cleaning Property Damage Too Soon
Don’t discard damaged appliances or property unless instructed by authorities or your insurance company. Even if the property is burnt or flooded, ensure it stays at the location until an adjuster has inspected it!
If you don’t do this, your homeowner’s insurance adjuster may claim there’s no proof of the damage so they can’t include it in your settlement. To help the process, make an inventory list of all damaged property and costs.
5. Failing to Mitigate the Damage
Another disastrous home insurance claim mistake is not taking steps to prevent the property from suffering further damage. Your insurance company may reject or reduce your settlement if they find this was the case.
6. Admitting You Were to Blame
Imagine you thought you may have made a mistake such as leaving a window unlocked during a storm that caused water damage. Don’t admit it! This may see your claim reduced or rejected.
Alternatively, you may have made no mistakes at all but the insurance adjuster may ask questions that trick you into admitting fault. Stay alert and never take the blame!
Read Related: What’s the difference between water and flood insurance?
7. Assuming Your Insurer’s Calculations Are Correct
So the insurance adjuster has visited your property, assessed the damage and calculated the total repair costs and replacement costs. How do you know that figure is correct?
Many people assume it is and then a few months later are forced to pay for repairs out of their own pocket. Construction costs are especially prone to wide variations between insurer quotes and reality.
In reality, you can always question the calculations. You can receive your own repair quotes and you can question it all. You have the right to do so.
If you disagree, let the insurer know – provide your own estimates for the repairs. With rising construction costs, supply chain disruptions and inflation, there is a good chance the cost the insurance company believes will make you whole, will not. Once you get your own estimates, submit them to the insurance carrier and demand that they pay the estimates you provided.
8. Assuming the Insurer’s Offer is Final
If you’re unhappy with the insurer’s offer, you can negotiate. If they reject your claim, you can appeal. They cannot close your case to silence you.
If you’ve been unfairly denied or underpaid in a property damage claim, then contact a property damage attorney as soon as possible.
9. Thinking You Can’t Reopen a Home Insurance Claim
Most homeowners insurance companies will inform you that the case is closed once they’ve paid you. But that’s just their way of saying they’re not dealing with it anymore.
Actually, you can reopen a claim so long as you did not sign a full and final settlement release. You may need to reopen a claim if you find the settlement offer wasn’t enough to cover the extensive damage, or that repair work was more extensive than predicted.
These situations are far from easy though as insurance adjusters will try to manipulate you or shut you out. Therefore you should hire a property damage attorney for aggressive professional representation.
10. Trying to Tackle a Complex Home Insurance Claim Alone
Whether your case is complex because of its size or because your insurer is playing games, a common home insurance claim mistake is handling it without a lawyer’s assistance.
While trying to handle the emotions of a damaged home, you’ll also need to deal with manipulative insurance adjusters and a lot of paperwork!
Property damage lawyers work on your behalf to deal with insurance companies. Their presence alone can often end the insurer’s tricks and bring a far higher offer.
In most cases, the offer you’ll receive with a lawyer’s assistance (including the lawyer’s fee) is larger than without.
Florida Property Damage Attorneys
If your property has suffered damage and you’ve been undervalued, denied or unfairly treated in your claim, 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.