Property Insurance Claims? Insurance Attorney Offers Simple Yet Vital Guidelines
Suffering a loss to personal or business property can be a stressful situation. To make things worse, the process of reporting, submitting, and presenting your insurance claim can be complex. This article shares a few simple – yet vital – best practices I have learned through my experience helping clients successfully resolve insurance claims.
Consider Hiring An Experienced Insurance Lawyer
Your entire claim will be governed by your insurance contract (policy). Compliance with the terms of the insurance contract are almost always strictly enforced. While not every claim requires the assistance of an attorney, many will. Insurance contracts are not easy to read and are often over 30 pages long. Even seasoned attorneys without insurance experience may have difficulty reading and understanding the terms of an insurance contract. An experienced insurance claims attorney can assist you in understanding and complying with the provisions of your specific policy.
Failing to comply with your insurance contracts' fine-print terms can result in an automatic denial of your insurance claim. As mentioned, insurance contracts are strictly enforced; excuses that you did not see a specific term in your insurance policy are not considered reasonable justifications.
Timely Report Your Claim
Insurance policies usually have a period in which you must report your claim. Due to the stress that is often involved in a loss, many people overlook this important provision. Reporting your claim as soon as it arises is the best practice. Even if the insurance company reporting requirement seems to allow a general time frame (i.e. 30 days), it is advisable to report your claim immediately.
Ensure that you have taken reasonable steps to limit further loss to your property. Insurance companies generally will not pay for damages that could have been avoided with reasonable steps following a loss.
For example, if you have a viable flood or water damage claim, do not let water sit on your property. Call a licensed water removal service to prevent further damage, such as mold growth, etc. Keep all the receipts of purchases of goods or services required to mitigate your damages.
Communicate Clearly and Truthfully
Most insurance policies have provisions that require the insured to cooperate with the insurance company's investigation. Failure to cooperate may result in denial of your claim. Insurance companies are gathering evidence from the moment you call them. Thus, it becomes extremely important for you to ensure that you communicate honestly and do not guess. Failure to truthfully communicate or comply may result in denial of your claim.
Support Your Claim
In many cases an insurance company will require you to provide verification of your damages. They will also send out a representative to inspect the damage. Gather any and all documents supporting your loss. This may include estimates from contractors, receipts, photos, and/or invoices. Take great care to preserve the loss until the insurance company has an opportunity to inspect.
It's advisable to take photos and videos of the property damage the moment you discover it.
Be Prepared For A Fight
Insurance company investigations can be lengthy and burdensome. Insurance companies have the right to request various documents from you and request that you submit to an Examination Under Oath (EUO). It is always a good idea to retain an experienced property insurance attorney prior to submitting to an EUO to ensure your rights are fully protected.
Unfortunately, an insurance company may not offer to pay the full amount to which you are entitled. Even worse, they may deny the claim outright. If you have not yet consulted with an attorney, it may be a good idea to consult with one at this point. An experienced insurance attorney can discuss with you potential steps in protecting your rights to payment.