There are many things that one can do to increase the chances that his or her property insurance claim will be successful. First and foremost, the individual needs to be organized and persistent in his or her efforts. It is also important that he or she document the information provided to the insurance carrier, the information he or she gets back from the company and any other efforts that he or she makes.
During litigation, insurance companies often try to portray policyholders as unreasonable, unwilling to compromise and as people who make unrealistic claims. They often try to depict the policyholder as the bad guy. With some preparation, policyholders can show that they are the good guys who should win the case.
Policyholders should take the following steps when filing an insurance claim:
Promptly file a claim and respond quickly to information requests from the insurer. If the request is unreasonable, inform them in writing.
Write down the claim number and use it in correspondence and phone calls. Insurance companies keep track of all their claims based on this number. Not using that number will slow things down.
Take notes and document every communication with the insurance company. Include the date, time, who was spoken to and summarize the conversation. Confirm communications or promises made in person or over the phone with a follow-up email. If something improper has happened or was said, make sure it is documented because that may help in negotiating a settlement.
Get the name of the staff adjuster assigned to the claim and write it down. The company will often hire an outside adjuster to estimate damage. That person is probably not able to make claims decisions or payments. Ask the adjuster exactly what his or her role is and what he or she is able to do. If he or she has no decision-making power, follow up with the company adjuster concerning coverage decisions.
Be proactive. Provide proof of damage and ask for claims payments. Do not wait for an invitation from the company.
Be polite, accurate, act professionally, do not vent frustrations to the adjuster and avoid saying, writing or doing anything that may be characterized as unreasonable, uncooperative or unreasonable.
Get repair estimates from trusted contractors so that during communications with the adjuster these estimates can be provided.
In certain losses, consider hiring an engineer or other professional to determine the cause of damage to the property.
Keep and organize receipts for any emergency repairs made to prevent further damage as well as temporary housing costs that may be reimbursed under “additional living expense” coverage.
Before agreeing to any settlement, confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements, contact our office so we can make sure that a fair settlement has been offered and that the insurance company lived up to its obligations.
If you live in the Tampa, Florida area and need help with a property insurance claim, contact attorney Jeff Pekar and ask for a free initial consultation by calling us today.