The aftermath of a hurricane can be a highly stressful time if your home has been damaged. If you’ve made a claim with your insurance company, you may be waiting to get your claim settled or you may wonder what your claim is worth. The process can get even more stressful if you are offered a settlement that doesn’t match the quotes contractors have provided you. There are many reasons why this may occur. Sometimes providing additional documentation to your adjuster is sufficient to result in a better settlement. However, sometimes disputes arise, and homeowners may need to fight their insurance company to get a better settlement. The problem is, if you have not been through the process and you have no guidance, you may end up doing things that you think are helping but are ultimately hurting your chances of a fair recovery.
If the settlement your insurance company offers isn’t sufficient to cover your damages, you may want to speak to an insurance claims lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, like Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC who can help you navigate the claims process. Our insurance claims lawyers may be able to identify any tactics that the insurance company might be using to deny your claim and fight for your rights.
What are some tactics that insurance companies may use to deny your claim or offer a lower settlement? Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC can review your settlement to see if there are any errors or distortions in the offer your adjuster has made. Here are a few reasons why you may have been offered a lower settlement than those provided by your contractor, and how your insurance claims lawyer can address them:
- Lowball Offers Due to the Use of Computer Programs and Formulas. Insurance adjusters sometimes use computer programs or formulas to estimate the value of your hurricane damages. If your adjuster enters information incorrectly, fails to account for some damages, or fails to account for the actual costs of labor and repairs in your area, you might be offered a lower settlement than you may deserve. As a general rule, it is very common to find the rates produced by the software insurance companies use will not accurately reflect what you will be able to hire a competent provider to do the work. These formulas may also itemize repair costs, and may not always account for the overhead costs of your contractor. Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC are insurance claims lawyers in Fort Lauderdale who can review your insurance company’s settlement and ask questions about how your adjuster arrived at his or her settlement figure.
- Failure to Account for Regional Costs. Every region’s material and repair costs can differ. For example, the cost of lumber or other supplies in an area after a hurricane may differ than the costs before a hurricane. If your insurance adjuster fails to account for changes in demand due to a storm, this could distort the settlement amount you might be offered. Furthermore, different geographical regions may have different labor and repair costs. If your insurance adjuster fails to account for these regional differences, your insurance settlement might be lower. Most programs claim to account for this but there are many scenarios we have seen in which that simply does not prove to be true!
- Failure to Account for Demand Following a Storm. Demand for contractor services increases after a storm. If your insurance adjuster’s settlement fails to account for this, your settlement may not match the quotes contractors are providing you for repairs.
- Mistakes in Data Entry. Insurance adjusters often use a computer program called Xactimate. If insurance adjusters enter information incorrectly into the program, the estimate for repairs can differ from the cost of repairs a contractor might provide. For example, if your adjuster makes an error about the number of rooms in your home, or only accounts for repairs to the exterior rather than repairs to the interior, then the estimate may not match your actual costs. If your adjuster enters the wrong square footage for a roof, for example, the estimate can end up being wrong. Even one foot off or a decimal point off can change the estimate.
- Failure to Account for Wasted Materials. Contractors may not always be able to buy an exact amount of flooring, roofing materials, paint, or other items needed to repair your home. Yet, contractors may include the waste into the estimate of your costs. If your insurance adjuster only accounts for the materials purchased, and doesn’t take into account the real-world scenario where there may be waste, your estimate could be off.
- Other fees. If your adjuster fails to account for the cost of permits, insurance for your contractor, and other expenses, your estimate may not be accurate.
Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC are insurance claims lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida who understand the ways in which insurance claims estimates can go wrong. If your estimate doesn’t match the quotes that contractors are providing, contact our law firm today. We can review the settlement claim being offered and speak to adjusters to understand why you are being offered the settlement amount. In some cases, an insurance claim lawyer can help you negotiate a better settlement or help you understand why you are being offered a lower settlement. Contact Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC, insurance claims lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida today to learn more.