Delay, Deny Defend.
People depend on their insurance companies to help when disaster hits. Yet, insurers are not always willing to pay what is owed or handle claims in good faith and without delay. When you buy a commercial property or homeowners’ insurance policy, you expect the insurance company to stand behind you when disaster strikes. Unfortunately, that all too often is not the case. In our years of representing individuals and businesses, we’ve seen firsthand how far insurance providers will go to avoid paying legitimate claims. Individuals and families that have been victims of bad faith tactics by insurance carriers need to find attorneys with the litigation skills and in-depth knowledge of the insurance industry to represent thir interests.
There are numerous ways that an insurance company will act in bad faith to deny legitimate claims, such as:
- Delays in paying you on time and in full making only partial payments cor a claim
- Denying the validity of your claim no matter how valid it is under the policy
- Delaying an investigation of the claim and or dragging out the investigationretaining multiple adjusters and experts
- Twisting around the policy language to find an excuse not paying you
- Failing or refusing to thoroughly investigate the claim
- Making you a lowball offer
- Promising that a claim would be paid and then later refusing to follow through
- Requiring that you demolish part of your property and then refusing to pay for the repairs
If you have fully cooperated with your insurance company and are facing a wrongful denial of your claim or a lowball offer, you may have a claim for bad faith and be entitled the legal remedies under the law including attorney fees.
Most recently, our team has helped thousands of people and business recover insurance payments they were rightfully owed due to damage from Hurricane Ike. Our team also handles claims involving damage from storms, earthquakes, forest fires, mudslides and other disasters.
If you have to file an insurance claim for any reason, chances are you already have suffered enough. We work to help businesses, individuals and families make sure they don’t suffer again at the hands of their insurance company.
When an insurance company denies your claim, engages in delay tactics, or refuses to pay you all that you are owed, one of our experienced attorneys can help. In addition, our attorneys can help with the claims process both before and after a lawsuit is filed, including when the insurance company asks for any of the following:
- Proof of loss
- Examination under Oath
- Written or recorded statement
- Financial documents or document authorizations
- Inventories of contents or product
It is crucial to keep in mind that there are numerous deadlines that must be met in the insurance claims process and deadlines for suing an insurance company. Missing one of these deadlines can mean that an insurer can deny your claim and that a court can dismiss your case without any recovery to you. It is important to consult with experienced attorneys as soon as you have a concern about your claim. Your insurance policy is supposed to provide you with peace of mind that, when disaster strikes, you would be fairly compensated and financially secure. You held up your end of the deal.
Unfortunately, insurance claim adjusters often find their hands tied — limited by restrictive claims processing guidelines designed to cut costs and increase profits for the insurance company. In these cases, adjusters have neither the authority nor the support to timely and fairly process a claim. Insurers may use various tactics to avoid prompt or full payment, or to justify a claim denied — even to the point of engaging in bad faith claim practices.
Such bad faith claims handling may give rise to additional remedies against the insurer. Not every rejected claim or dispute is the result of bad faith on the part of the insurer, and in some states, like Florida, an insurance bad faith lawsuit typically cannot be filed until the coverage dispute is over. However, the conduct giving rise to a claim of insurer bad faith often occurs before a claim is denied and before that dispute is resolved. It is important to recognize that a claim of insurance bad faith must be properly preserved during the claim handling period, whether that is by complying with statutory conditions precedent, or by recognizing the importance of the insurer’s actions. Insurance bad faith claims can take many forms including both first and third party bad faith claims.
D’Angelo Law Group has focused on insurance law since 1999, handeling complex insurance claims, litigation and bad faith related cases. We are available to discuss how, as insurance policyholder advocates, innovative negotiators and experienced litigators for insurance-related claims. Navigating the process of filing a claim can be a daunting responsibility. Knowing what information is necessary to effectively present a claim is often only the starting point.
Policyholders are often faced with complicated issues and complex decisions after they suffer a property loss. These decisions and issues can arise during and after the presentation of a claim to the insurance company. The skill with which the claim information is presented, and the strategy used to separate the facts of a policyholder’s case from an insurer’s objections, is what separates successful representation from merely functional representation.
Commercial insurance policies are particularly complex and contain valuable potential benefits that are sometimes overlooked. If not investigated and presented appropriately, damage to structures and contents can cause a business owner a great opportunity loss by his acceptance of payment for an undervalued claim.
Similarly, homeowners often do not realize the significance of knowing the details of their policies, as well as their rights under the law. Homeowners attempting to present their own claims may not fully comprehend they may be entitled to compensation for additional living expenses, and they are allowed to obtain independent quotes for damage.
Finding the right experts to assist in proving your full loss is often part of the process. We understand the claims handling process, and we can help you find your way through all of the insurance company “red tape.” We deal with these insurers on a daily basis. We know them, and more importantly, they know our work.
There is no routine in filing an insurance claim. Anyone can file a claim, but it takes experience, knowledge, and persistence to achieve a truly successful outcome.
There are six steps homeowners should be prepared to take before and after filing a claim:
- Carefully review coverage
Don’t wait for an emergency or need to file a claim before you fully review and understand your existing policy. Before filing a claim, review your policy in light of the damage or have a professional do so to fully understand what your policy covers and what it doesn’t. Coverage should be periodically reviewed to make sure it is adequate and fits your needs. A policyholder may be underinsured or face exclusions for things they need. Older homes, in the process of obtaining a building permit, may require you to do certain things to bring it up to code standards. Your policy should provide for that. If it doesn’t have that language, you may have to pay those cost out of pocket.
- Take photos and video
The availability and ease of digital cameras allows homeowners to provide the insurer with “before and after” documentation. Every year or so take pictures inside the home, of the walls and the ceiling. Insurance carriers frequently deny coverage when you make a claim for damage because it is their standard position to retort that the damage was “pre-existing or normal wear and tear.”
- Document the damage
Beyond photographing or making a video to show damages, homeowners can hire their own adjuster, who will act independently of one provided by the insurance company.
Keep track, and have duplicate copies of all estimates and receipts. Also, repare a detailed inventory of all damaged possessions, with their approximate age, initial price and estimated cost to replace.
- Make temporary repairs to mitigate damage
Don’t wait for an insurance adjuster to start making temporary repairs. Broken windows and leaking roofs should be fixed right away so the insurance company cannot dismiss some claims as the result of waiting too long to do so. Save all receipts and documentation, as the insurer will likely reimburse most of these expenses.
- Don’t assume you are not covered
Just because a claim is initially rejected doesn’t mean the policy doesn’t say otherwise. We see this in mold caused by a water leak or water damage. Mold may be covered if it is caused by water intusion beyond the standard coverage limit of $10,000 to $15,000 stated on most policies.
- Battling the claim
For those concerned with the costs of battling a claim attorneys and public adjusters more often than not work on a contingency basis. Recovery of cost of such expertise can shift to an insurance company if an initial claim is found to have be inadequate.
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