FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. If your home or business property has sustained damages due to a fire, storm, or due to a lightning strike, you may be facing the prospect of making an insurance claim. What are the biggest insurance claim mistakes to avoid? Here are five major mistakes that could lead to a denied claim or a delayed claim:
- Failing to report damages to your insurance company. While it might be tempting to try to handle minor damages yourself, if the damages turn out to be more serious than you thought and you already hired a contractor to start repairs, you could end up on the hook for the whole thing. Insurance adjusters will want to see the damage before repairs to get a better assessment of the loss. If your home suffered damages that would be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy, your best bet is to report the loss to your insurer as promptly as possible. However, if the damage is truly very minor and you plan to turn the repairs into a “do it yourself” project, carefully consider whether your assessment of the damages is accurate before you proceed. Also, be confident in the manner with which you plan to make the repair; if it proves to be faulty or inadequate and results in later damage, you may not be covered by your insurance. You may also want to take photos and video of the damage, before and after and save all receipts and parts, if practical. Should you believe you made a mistake and need to make a claim, having these items may help you overcome the insurance company’s possible argument that they were prejudiced by your late reporting causing them not to be able to fairly investigate the claim.
- Waiting too long to make a claim. You may only have a limited amount of time to file a claim with your insurance company. You should aim to file a claim as soon as possible after your home has sustained damages. It is also important that an adjuster come see your damages as soon as possible. Damages left unrepaired can worsen and you don’t want an insurance company claiming that you were negligent in making needed repairs or otherwise mitigating your damage.
- Saying too much over the phone. When making a claim, you may need to call your insurance company to let them know that your home has been damaged, but avoid getting too chatty with your insurance adjuster over the phone. If adjusters have questions, ask them to send them your way in writing. It is usually best to address questions and issues in writing. This way if you get correspondence that is confusing, you have time to respond and can show it to a lawyer, if needed. Customer service representatives or some adjusters might be trained to ask the kind of questions that could result in a lower settlement or a denied claim. You should not refuse to cooperate or give a statement as this too can result in a denial of your claim. Answer questions directly and truthfully but only answer what was asked and do not guess or speculate at anything. The answers you give over the phone can have an impact on the outcome of your insurance claim. If you are not sure about how to handle the claim process, an insurance claim lawyer like Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC in Fort Lauderdale, Florida may be able to make the calls that must be made and correspond with insurance adjusters in writing to help you get the best possible outcome under the law.
- Assuming that your insurance adjuster’s estimate of your damages is accurate. According to U.S. News & World Report, when you are dealing with your insurance adjuster, it is important to remember that you are dealing with a bureaucracy. Insurance adjusters may sometimes use formulas or estimates to place a value on your claim, but these estimates may not always reflect the actual cost of repairs. Other times, the insurance company, or someone acting on its behalf, may direct them to change the estimate to include substantially less than initially proposed. If you obtain an estimate from a reputable contractor or public adjuster that is higher than the settlement your insurance carrier is willing to give, you have the right to challenge the amount. If your claim is being denied, you can also challenge the insurance company’s determination. Claims can be denied for many reasons and in many instances, are not supported or valid reasons for the denial. The insurance adjuster may be missing important information. In some cases, insurance companies may even misrepresent (or the adjuster may misinterpret) what is covered under the policy. Do you understand what is covered and what isn’t covered by your insurance policy? If you find yourself fighting to get the settlement you may deserve, you can also hire an insurance claims lawyer like Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to review your claim, estimate the value of your claim, and fight insurance adjusters to help you get the settlement you may deserve.
- Failing to keep damaged items. In the aftermath of a storm, you might be tempted to immediately toss damaged electronics, books, or furniture, but it is important to keep these items until your insurance adjuster has a chance to take a look. According to the Balance, any damaged items are evidence of your losses.
If you are in the process of making a claim with your homeowner’s insurance, you may have many questions. While some claims are settled in a satisfactory manner, sometimes homeowners don’t receive the claims they believe they may deserve. If this describes your situation, consider speaking to the insurance claims lawyers at Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC in Fort Lauderdale, Florida today.
Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC
633 South Andrews Ave.
Fort Lauderdale, FL33301