When a natural disaster, plumbing problem, or accident damages your home, you might take comfort from the fact that you are covered by a homeowners insurance policy. However, in reality, getting what you deserve from an insurance company can turn into an endless battle that could go on for months and even years.
Insurance companies often pull out all the stops and employ a range of tricks trying to deny property owners a fair payout. However, you do not have to accept an unreasonable denial, delay, or underpayment of your property damage claim. Morgan & Morgan’s home property damage lawyers know how to handle insurance companies and can fight for an adequate settlement on your behalf. Get in touch with us today to learn about your rights in a free consultation.
Common Property Damage Claims
Most homeowners experience some kind of mishap at some time during their homeownership, such as a plumbing leak, storm, or accidental damage to their homes. Some of the most common insurance claims for property damage in the US include:
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), wind and hail damage accounted for most insurance claims from 2014 to 2018. Damage due to wind can arise in natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and strong thunderstorms.
When water enters your house, the consequences can be costly and disruptive. Common reasons for water intrusion and flooding include burst pipes, heavy and prolonged rain, rivers bursting their banks, and snow melting.
Fire and Lightning
Losing your house and belongings in a house fire can be traumatizing. Fire and lightning claims are not as frequent as wind and hail damage. However, they tend to be the most disruptive and expensive claims. According to the III, fire and lightning losses averaged $78,838 between 2015-2019.
Burglaries and Other Theft-Related Events
Break-ins can be emotionally distressing for a homeowner and renter. The thought of having your home invaded, and the destruction and disarray caused by burglaries, can be hard to digest. However, these events are generally not as costly as water damage or natural disasters, coming in at an average cost of $4,328, according to figures from then III.
Other Insurance Claims
When someone slips and falls due to a hazard at your property or is injured by your pet, you could face a liability claim from the injured party. Although relatively infrequent, liability insurance claims can turn out expensive for homeowners.
No matter what type of property loss or damage you experienced, you should be able to rely on your insurance company. After all, you pay into the policy month after month, year after year. Unfortunately, the reality can look quite different. In many cases, insurance companies haggle over every dollar with their policyholders, deny valid claims, or delay payment. When this happens, you need a tenacious and dedicated property damage lawyer in your corner who is not afraid to stand up to a powerful insurance company.
What Is Covered Under a Homeowner’s Policy?
While policies can differ, most standard homeowners’ insurance covers:
Standard insurance covers the structure of your home, including foundations, walls, and roof. Your policy may also cover any structures attached to or detached from your house, such as a porch, deck, shed, and garage. Depending on your policy, your home should be covered from events such as:
- Wind, hurricane, and tornado damage
- Hail damage
- Flooding damage (if included in your policy)
- Mold damage
- Fallen trees
- Fire and smoke damage
- Theft and vandalism
- Damage from a car accident
- Sinkholes (if included in your policy)
Homeowners insurance usually also provides coverage for the personal belongings within your home, such as:
- Electronic appliances
- Computers and laptops
Most homeowners’ insurance policy protects you from liability claims when someone is injured on your property. Liability coverage can help to pay for any legal costs or the injured person’s medical bills if they got harmed on your property and you were at fault for the accident.
While standard homeowners’ insurance policies usually cover damage caused by fires, lightning, and storms, they do not protect policyholders from all natural disasters and eventualities. For example, damage caused by flooding or earthquakes is not typically covered. Therefore, homeowners often elect to buy additional coverage to protect their homes.
However, despite homeowners paying for a policy and even buying additional coverage for natural disasters such as flooding, insurance companies often refuse coverage or reduce and delay claims.
When You Need a Home Property Damage Lawyer
When your home is badly damaged, you may not know what to do for the best.
Dealing with insurance companies can be frustrating and challenging. It can be hard to know whether you should handle a claim on your own or get legal help. Consider contacting an attorney for help in the following circumstances:
- You are not sure what is covered under your policy
- The insurance company has already denied your valid claim
- The insurance company’s settlement offer does not cover all your damages
- Your claim is severely delayed
Unfortunately, insurance companies may be more interested in making a profit than in helping their policyholders. They may offer a payout that is not even close to covering your damages. Our home property damage lawyers can step in and level the playing field. We can review your insurance policy, identify your options, and leave no stone unturned in fighting for a fair settlement.
Your Best Next Steps When Your Home Is Damaged
If your property is damaged, consider taking the following steps to help you recover adequate compensation from your insurance company.
Protect Your Home from Further Deterioration
If your home sustained significant damage from a storm or water intrusion, make sure to limit further deterioration. For example, if your home is flooded due to a burst pipe, turn off mains water to stop further water ingress. If your roof is damaged, cover up the area with a tarp to limit further damage to the fabric and inside of your property. If you do everything you can to protect your house, an insurer will not be able to argue that you risked further deterioration of your property by doing nothing.
Document the Damage
An excellent way to reduce the chances of having your claim denied is by collecting comprehensive evidence of the property damage. Document everything as detailed as possible and take plenty of photographs of damaged rooms and damaged items. Do not forget the outside of your house and the yard area. If your roof is affected, try to take pictures of any outside and inside damage and water intrusion. Making a written inventory of the damage can be an excellent idea.
File the Insurance Claim as Soon as Possible
When your property is severely damaged, there will be a million things to do. However, make sure to contact your insurance company as a priority. Getting what you deserve can take some time. Therefore, the sooner you start filing a claim, the sooner you can receive the funds needed to repair your home.
Contact a Home Property Damage Lawyer
Contacting an attorney for help early on in the process can be an excellent step. If your insurer is already dragging its heels and low-balling or denying your claim, getting legal advice and support can be critical. Our property damage attorneys can walk you through your options for fighting unfair claim denials, delays, and lowball offers.
How Morgan & Morgan Can Help
Your house is not only the biggest asset you likely own; it is also your home. Seeing the home you love damaged or destroyed by a storm or fire can be traumatizing and overwhelming. If you are unable to get the settlement you need to repair or rebuild your home, our home property damage lawyers can be here for you. Ways in which we can help include:
Help You Understand Your Policy
Insurance policies can be complicated, long-winded, and full of legalese, making them hard for the average person to understand. However, knowing what is contained in your policy, particularly when it comes to exclusions, is crucial for getting what you are entitled to.
Communicating With the Insurance Company
Letting an attorney handle all communication and negotiation with your insurance company and adjusters can protect your legal rights. Unfortunately, some insurers manipulate policyholders into giving statements that could later be used against them to devalue or deny their claim. Your attorney can take charge of the claims process and protect you by communicating with your insurer on your behalf.
Negotiating a Fair Settlement
It is common practice for insurance companies to offer early lowball settlements to try and avoid large payouts. Our experienced attorneys know whether an insurer’s offer is fair or whether you should consider the offer as a starting point for negotiations. We know how to get results and don’t settle for less. Moreover, the insurance companies know that we do not shy away from taking them to court.
Filing a Lawsuit
If the negotiations for a fair settlement fail, we will go all the way to fight for our clients in the courtroom. When we handle your insurance case, we aim for full and fair compensation that allows you to repair your home and replace the property damaged or lost in a covered event.