Many people who have faithfully paid homeowner’s insurance premiums for years without filing a property damage claim discover that they are met with delays, lowball settlement offers and denials when they finally experience a property loss. Insurance companies understand that those who have suffered significant damage to their property may be displaced from their home, so delays can increase the financial pressure to accept an inadequate settlement offer. Sometimes these delays may be created by overbroad requests for information. In extreme cases, insurance companies may even allege fraud or arson to avoid paying valid property damage claims.
Here are four tips for dealing with the insurance company practice of threatening criminal charges of fraud or arson to avoid paying a property damage claim:
Talk to An Experienced Miami Property Damage Insurance Attorney: Insurance companies are far less likely to manufacture meritless allegations of fraud or arson when policyholders are represented by an experienced fire insurance claims attorney. Our law firm can work with experts to identify arson claims that are not based on evidence. If you are represented by an insurance claims attorney, the insurance company will be on notice that frivolous allegations of fraud and arson can result in a legal claim for bad faith denial of your claim. When insurance companies commit bad faith by using tactics, such as threatening potential criminal liability, this can justify punitive damages against the insurer.
Use Electronic Technology to Create a Record of Property & Damages: Fraud claims often involve an insurance company alleging a policyholder falsely indicated certain property was lost or destroyed. While insurance companies used to recommend creating a written inventory of all property in one’s home, most people can now use their cell phone or other recorder to video tape all of the contents of one’s home. This type of video evidence can preempt claims that a claim was made for property that did not exist.
Create a Record of the Cause of Damage: While your safety may make it difficult to get evidence of the cause of the damage to your home or personal property in your residence, you should get video and take notes to the degree possible that shows the damage as well as the cause of the damage. If you create a record that shows what caused the damage, it can make it easier to prove coverage especially after the condition of the property has been modified. While you may want to take action like boarding up broken windows to prevent further damage, you should not significantly repair the premises until an adjuster conducts an inspection.
Keep in Touch with the Insurance Adjuster: Many insurance companies provide “apps” to facilitate providing documents, pictures and other information. Generally, you should follow up on the status of your claim at least on a weekly basis. A record of any written communication should be maintained. If you talk with the adjuster or other representative of the insurance company by phone, you should keep careful notes that include the name of the person, date of contact and subject matter of the conversation.
You can reach Miami Fire 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].