Residents have been facing many challenges in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura and Delta, beyond the initial impact of the two monster storms. They are now experiencing ongoing hardships: nightmares in the filling of their insurance claims, delayed scheduling of adjusters, slow return of their estimates, difficulties finding reputable repair contractors, struggles with landlords, many still homeless or out of a job, straining for government assistance, and the list goes on and on.
Residents are tired. Tired of dealing with hit after hit, and definitely too tired to fight back. Most people want to get back to their normal lives and will accept what “is” to achieve just that. “It is what it is,” right? The sad reality is that some will use this to their advantage.
Property owners are either still waiting on or just now beginning to receive their insurance estimates back, and much to their surprise. The offer they expected to rebuild with is coming back much lower than they thought, or oftentimes even denied entirely. Although they paid for insurance coverage, many individuals are having to dip into their savings to fully recover their losses. Others don’t even have the savings to dip into. Adding insult to injury, everyone in the area can most likely expect an increase in property insurance rates in the near future, too.
Common Struggles with Insurance Claims
Many policyholders complain about the frustrating difficulties in getting their claim resolved. Although there can be legitimate reasons for a claim to be delayed, there are also unjust tactics that some companies use to postpone payment. Common delays in claims can include:
Delayed scheduling of an inspection
Requiring multiple inspections of your property
Additional documentation is repeatedly requested
Untimely responses to your questions, concerns, phone calls, and messages
With the amount of catastrophic loss we’ve seen from Hurricane Laura, it is unfortunately commonplace for many claims to be underpaid. Insurance companies can save thousands by underestimating the value of each claim, or by offering a fraction of the value of that claim. Underpaid claims can happen for a number of reasons, including:
Overbooked insurance adjusters have little time to properly inspect each property
Many property damages are overlooked or omitted when preparing the initial report
Some damages require proof or receipts that you do not have or lost in the hurricane
Estimates fail to factor in necessary pricing for the construction (logistics, materials, cost of labor, environmental, etc.)
Claim values only offer a patch to the damages, versus fully restoring or replacing them
Policies can be written in vague and complex language to make it difficult to understand what is covered or excluded and navigating the terms can be a daunting task. Oftentimes coverages are denied based on exclusion from the policy but are covered under certain circumstances. Claim denials can include:
Wrongful denial or unproper investigation of damages under the policy terms
The insurance company says you lack the proper evidence of damage
They attempt to find reasons for the denial of a claim such as a pre-existing condition
Paying you as little as possible to protect their profits
If you feel like your claim is being unjustly delayed, underpaid, or denied, it is probably best to have the support and experience of an attorney to help examine your case. Having legal representation can make all the difference in the outcome of your claim.
Bad Faith Insurance Claims
Conduct and acts in bad faith by insurance companies are against the law. Courts can require acts in bad faith punishable to pay penalties, as well as additional damages. Complying with the law obligates insurance companies to investigate, estimate, and promptly pay their claims in good faith. Acts in bad faith can include:
Misrepresenting policy terms
Wrongful denial of a claim
Underestimating the value of damage
Fabricating exclusions or requesting unnecessary documentation
Not paying the full amount or delaying settlement checks
Lack in communication with the policyholder
Rejecting or omitting damages or refusing reinspection of the property
Why Should I Contact an Insurance Claim Lawyer?
Many home and business owners find they have little trouble filing an insurance claim for their damages. Other times - usually when the stakes are much higher – there is a greater chance for dispute. You should consider contacting an attorney for help when:
You have questions regarding your policy coverages
The insurance adjuster’s estimate is lower than expected
Damages are extensive and claims are more complex
Claims are delayed or denied
Even if you have already received your settlement, it is not too late. You might not be getting all you deserve and there is free legal advice out there to take advantage of. Reach out to our team at Galindo Law if you have any questions about your insurance claim, policy, or the amount in benefits you received from your insurance company. We are experts at defending your rights and challenging bad faith claims.
You might also like to read the Property Damages from Hurricane Laura and Tips to Recover Your Losses