Home Property

When Should I Get a Lawyer for My Home Property?

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Home Property Lawyer

When Should I Get a Lawyer for My Home Property?

A badly damaged home can threaten your financial and emotional health for years to come. However, knowing when to get legal help can be confusing after the chaos of a natural disaster or other accident impacting your property. Moreover, the insurance company might give you the runaround when you simply look to recover your due in good faith. If you are impacted by property damage, you might be wondering, “When do I get a lawyer for my home property?”

In a nutshell, you should seek legal advice when your home or business property is damaged due to a natural disaster or the negligent or willful acts of another. An attorney can help you understand what is covered in your insurance policy, whether you should file a claim, and clarify any other options you have for recovering compensation. If an insurance company has already rejected your claim, our lawyers can help you fight the decision. Get started today and contact us for free legal advice.

Types of Property Damage That May Require an Attorney 

Property damage attorneys can help if an insurance company treats you unfairly and denies or minimizes your claim. Home and business owners often seek legal help and advice when they experience:  

  • Hurricane or tornado damage
  • Fire and smoke damage
  • Plumbing leaks and water damage
  • Subsidence and foundation issues
  • Property defects
  • Vandalism and theft
  • Liability claims

Homeowners’ insurance policies can be complicated to understand. If you are not sure what is covered in your policy and whether you should file a claim, a property damage attorney can review your policy and walk you through your options and the next best steps.

When to Get a Lawyer for Your Property Claim

It can be tough to know when to get a lawyer for your home property. However, if your property is significantly damaged and you struggle to get what you deserve from an insurance company, contacting a lawyer for advice is generally an excellent idea. In some cases, having a seasoned attorney by your side can be essential. Consider seeking legal advice promptly in the following circumstances:

  • The insurance company refuses to investigate your claim
  • Your claim was denied without an explanation
  • The insurer cancels your policy unexpectedly 
  • You only receive lowball offers that do not cover your expenses
  • The insurer makes unreasonable demands for proof of loss

If your insurance company does not uphold their end of the deal after you have faithfully paid the premiums, you do not have to stand for it. A property damage attorney at Morgan & Morgan can assess your claim and help you move forward with holding an unethical insurance company accountable. 

Your Insurance Rates Could Rise After a Claim

Unfortunately, your homeowners’ insurance rates might increase after filing a claim. This can be particularly true for any claims related to water damage, theft, accidental damage, and dog bites. The insurer may also raise their rates if:  

  • Your home is in a high-risk area, such as a hurricane zone
  • You have filed several insurance claims recently
  • You live in a high-crime area

If you want to avoid high premiums, it can pay off to be strategic about filing claims. Filing several low-cost claims may not make sense, especially if this causes your premiums to rise by a considerable amount. Filing a claim is not recommended when:

  • The cost to repair the damage is less or around the same amount as your deductible
  • Your claim arises from a repair or maintenance issue
  • Your claim is not covered as per your homeowner’s policy

It is generally better to fix the damage yourself and pay for routine maintenance out of your own pocket in the above circumstances.

You Could File a Lawsuit Against a Third Party

You could also explore alternative options for receiving your due. For example, if someone else negligently or willfully caused damage to your home, you could go after them instead of filing a claim with your insurance. This situation could arise, for example, if your house is damaged in a car or truck accident or someone vandalizes your property. If another damaged your property, consider contacting our property damage attorneys, who can assess your case and move forward with a lawsuit. 

Common Property Insurance Claims

Wind and Hail

The most common property insurance claims are those for wind and hail damage. Homeowners’ insurance generally covers damage from high winds and inclement weather associated with storms. Wind and hail damage can encompass various natural disasters, including:

  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • Thunderstorms
  • Winter storms

Water Damage

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), water damage and freezing account for the second-highest number of annual insurance claims, behind wind and hail damage. Burst pipes or leaks can cause serious damage with a hefty price tag, with the average claim amounting to over $11,000.

Fire and Lightning

Fire, smoke, and lightning damage can be devastating and destroy entire homes or render them uninhabitable for months. Hence, fire claims tend to be some of the most expensive, averaging more than $78,000, according to the III. Homeowners insurance generally covers fire and lightning damage.

Other Property Damage

Other common property damage claims include:

  • Trees falling on a property
  • Liability claims from persons injured on your property
  • Theft and vandalism

Types of Property Damage Covered by Homeowners Insurance

While homeowners’ insurance policies can vary, they all tend to include coverage for the fabric of your house, such as the roof, walls, and foundation. Depending on your policy, the following events are usually covered: 

  • Wind and hail damage
  • Fire and smoke damage
  • Lightning damage
  • Liability claims
  • Vandalism and theft

Damage Not Normally Covered by Homeowners Insurance

  • Earthquake damage
  • Sinkholes
  • Flooding
  • Issues arising from lack of maintenance and repair

Although some natural disasters are not covered in a standard homeowners’ insurance policy, you could purchase additional protection for events such as flooding and sinkholes. Knowing what is covered and what is not covered can be critical and prevent homeowners from nasty surprises when attempting to file a claim.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

Morgan & Morgan

  • What Are My Next Best Steps After My House Is Damaged?

    While it can be challenging to think clearly in the aftermath of an accident or natural disaster, protecting your legal rights can be essential. Actions to take can include:

    Securing Your Home to Avoid Further Damage 

    Often, individuals are not sure whether they should start repairing their house right away without having received any funds from their insurance. However, help could be days or weeks away, especially when a natural disaster impacts an entire area. Therefore, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to protect their property as much as possible and ensure to prevent further deterioration. Not doing so could cause your claim to be minimized or denied by an insurance company. 

    Gathering Evidence of Property Damage

    Documenting the damage can help with getting an insurance claim approved. Gathering evidence can be as easy as snapping pictures with your cell phone camera. Ensure to take pictures of the outside of the house, the roof area, each room, and the individual items destroyed or damaged. You should also make a list of all the damaged rooms and items in the house. 

    Contact Your Insurance Company Immediately 

    Generally, it is best to contact your insurer as soon as possible after sustaining property damage. Getting paid by the insurance company can take weeks or even months, especially if there are disputes over amounts or the insurer tries to deny your claim. There can also be time limits for filing a claim or a lawsuit to get what you deserve. Therefore, timely action can be critical for recovering your due. 

    Call a Home Property Lawyer 

    Most homeowners do not consider getting legal advice until their insurance claim has been denied and they are out of options. However, this can be a mistake as an attorney can advise you on how to handle the insurance company from the beginning and track your claim. Getting legal advice in a first consultation is usually free and can be an excellent idea, especially if your home is severely damaged

  • Is My Claim Covered by My Homeowners Insurance?

    It can be impossible to know whether your claim is covered without looking at your individual policy. While most policies cover damage from wind, hail, fire, and vandalism, every insurance claim is unique, and several factors come into play. Therefore, if you would like to know whether your claim is covered, your best next step can be contacting a property damage attorney who can review your policy thoroughly, discuss the damage to your property, and advise you accordingly.

  • Will My Insurance Pay for Temporary Accommodation?

    If your house is severely damaged in a storm or a fire, you may not be able to live in your property until it is repaired. However, your home damage must have occurred in a covered event to qualify for temporary accommodation and other living expenses. 

    If your house was severely damaged in a storm or fire, you could be entitled to living expenses such as: 

    • Temporary rental apartment or hotel room 
    • Meals at the hotel
    • Pet boarding expenses
    • Storage fees for your clothes and other belongings

    Depending on your individual policy, you could also be entitled to other expenses. However, it is important to know that these expenses will only be available if your home has become uninhabitable.

  • Should I Give a Recorded Statement to an Insurance Company?

    There is generally no legal requirement for claimants to provide a recorded statement to an insurance company. Bear in mind that asking for a recorded statement can be a trick by an insurer who could later use anything you said against you. Before giving a recorded statement, consider speaking to an attorney who can protect your rights and directly communicate with an insurance company, so you do not have to worry about getting tripped up.

  • When Is a Claim Denial Valid?

    Not all claim denials occur due to an insurance company acting in bad faith. In some cases, claims are denied for valid reasons such as:

    • Unpaid premiums
    • Policy exclusions 
    • Fraud
    • Failure to inform the insurance company in good time
  • Do I Have a Bad Faith Insurance Claim?

    Insurance companies must act in good faith when assessing claims. Bad faith insurance claims can arise when:

    • The insurance company refuses to investigate a claim
    • The insurer misinterprets or misrepresents data to deny or reduce your claim 
    • Your insurance company does not respond to a claim in a timely manner
    • Refusal to honor a valid claim without giving a reason

    If you believe that your homeowners’ insurance company is acting in bad faith, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Insurance companies are legally required to act fairly and compensate policyholders for covered losses in good time.

  • Can I Recover Damages if the Insurer Acted in Bad Faith?

    If you can prove that your insurance company denied, minimized, or delayed your claim in bad faith, you could qualify for damages in addition to your original claim amount. Damages could include awards for:

    • Emotional distress
    • Out-of-pocket expenses
    • Attorney’s fees
    • Interest
    • Punitive damages

    Depending on your case, you could also receive additional damages.

  • How Can Morgan & Morgan Help Me With a Property Damage Claim?

    We can have your back if an insurance company treats you unfairly and denies, delays, or reduces your claim. Ways in which we can assist include:

    • Reviewing your insurance policy 
    • Communicating and negotiating with your insurer
    • Handling the claims process on your behalf
    • Negotiating a settlement
    • Ensuring you do not leave money on the table
    • Filing a lawsuit and fighting for what you deserve at a trial

    If you have a case against a third party, we could help you move forward with legal action. Morgan & Morgan never settles for less. Our experienced and dedicated attorneys fight tooth and nail for the rights of policyholders and want you to recover a fair settlement that allows you to repair the damage to your home adequately. 

  • Contact Morgan & Morgan for Help Today

    If you want to know the answer to “When do I get a lawyer for my home property?” simply get in touch, and we can advise you about your rights and next best steps in a free, no-obligation consultation. Unfortunately, not all insurers play nice. Sometimes, an insurance company refuses an adequate settlement or makes it unnecessarily difficult for claimants to get what they deserve. 

    Our attorneys know how to stand up against powerful insurance companies and could help you recover the settlement you need to fix your home and get your life back on track. Contact us now to find out more in a free case review.

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