What Sharp Practices Do Homeowner's Insurance Companies Use to Deny Property Damage Claims?

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
Founder of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.

Many homeowners faithfully fulfill their obligations under their homeowner’s insurance policy by paying premiums and making a claim in timely fashion when storms, fire or vandalism cause damage to an insured’s home or personal property.  The insurance industry generates profits amounting to more than $30 billion annually and possesses assets that exceed the GDPs of all but two countries according to the American Association of Justice.  This enormous sector of the U.S. economy was built in part on sharp practices, unscrupulous conduct and dirty tactics. Some of the harsh practices used by insurance companies to deny or minimize the payout on valid property damage claims, are discussed below.

Using Confusing Terminology and Contract Provisions: Homeowner insurance policies are confusing, difficult to understand and dense.  While many states have enacted laws that mandate consumer contracts be written in plain language, many policyholders have little conception of the risks they are exposed to according to the terms, conditions, exclusions and limitations of their policy.  When homeowners suffered total losses during Hurricane Katrina, many people found that their property damage claims were denied because of obscure “anti-concurrent” clauses.  These clauses were essentially incomprehensible to homeowners without legal advice.

Lowballing Claims: Many times insurance companies count on homeowner uncertainty regarding the value of their claim.  Because delays in repairing damage to a residence often cause inconvenience, further damage and financial hardship, insurance companies often extend a lowball offers.   

Stalling Claim: Insurance companies know that sometimes stalling the payment of a claim will eventually frustrate a policyholder so that the insured gives up and accepts a lowball settlement or abandons the claim entirely.  Because this strategy is used commonly, policyholders need to faithfully follow up on their claim and keep meticulous notes regarding their efforts to communicate with their insurance carrier.  When memorializing communications, it is important to note the dates of such contacts, name of the insurance company representative and subject matter of the discussion.  When policyholders face delays, financial pressure may mount and create an incentive for an insured to settle for less than the full value of the claim.

Unjustified Denial of Claims: Many insurance companies including some of the largest in the nation like State Farm, Allstate and AIG have been exposed for refusing to pay justified claims to increase profits.  Large insurance companies sometimes compensate employees based on successfully denying claims while terminating employees that did not have a similar pattern for denying claims.

You can reach Miami Property Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].

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