Many individuals purchase their residence decades before needing to make a homeowners claim because of damage from a fire, broken pipe, or other calamity.  When disaster strikes, homeowners typically assume that their insurance company will act fairly in processing their claims.  This is precisely the reason that homeowners pay premiums.  Unfortunately, insurance companies generally view their first priority as increasing profits for their shareholders.  This often is accomplished by minimizing payouts on legitimate claims.  While property owners can challenge the conduct of their insurer on their own, sometimes the best option is to retain an experienced insurance claims attorney. 

Your insurance company is refusing to pay your claim, so do you need to hire an insurance claims attorney?

While obtaining legal advice and guidance from an experienced insurance claims attorney can always be helpful, you may not need full scale representation.  If the insurance company seems to be responsive to your inquiries and to be legitimately working on your claim, you might not need an attorney to take an adversarial stance with your insurance company.  However, there are important deadlines that can impact your claim, so you should make sure that you avoid being late on submitting a sworn proof of loss or complying with other post-loss obligations under your policy.  If you feel like the claims process does not seem to be going anywhere, then it may be time to consider hiring an experienced insurance claims attorney. 

Should you let your attorney handle all communications with your insurance company?

If you retain legal counsel, the attorney will handle all communications with your insurance company.

Does hiring an attorney mean that a lawsuit will get filed?

While there are situations where a lawsuit provides the best option for obtaining relief, sometimes an insurance company will be motivated to take claims mores seriously when an insured has an attorney.  Your insurance claims attorney can negotiate with the insurance company's lawyers and respond to the arguments that the insurer is making regarding exclusions, coverage, compliance with post-loss duties and other issues.

There are a number of pre-lawsuit alternate dispute resolution (ADR) options that your attorney might also consider, such as appraisal, mediation, or arbitration.  Each of these approaches has advantages and disadvantages, and your attorney can guide you through any of these options if they make sense for your situation.  The appraisal process is used to resolve disputes over the value of a policyholder’s loss.  While the process can be fast and efficient, this depends on the umpire and appraisers selected by the parties.  Mediation can be used to resolve both issues of coverage and the value of a loss, but the process is informal and voluntary.  Arbitration is a more formal approach than mediation in which the arbitrator can dictate the result. 

The bottom line is that a lawsuit for breach of contract and/or a lawsuit for insurance bad faith might be potential options, but they are not the right choice in every situation.  Even if a lawsuit is filed, these disputes are frequently settled prior to trial.

Should you hire your divorce or DUI attorney to handle your homeowner's insurance coverage dispute?

While you can hire any attorney licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction, hiring an attorney who does not have a law practice focused on insurance coverage disputes is not a good idea.  Insurance companies use attorneys that specialize in these types of cases, so it is a bad idea to work with an attorney who lacks experience in insurance issues.  During settlement negotiations, the lawyers for the insurance company will consider the expertise, skill, and experience of your attorney when weighing potential settlement options.

You can reach Miami 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].

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