A Louisiana woman has initiated a homeowner’s insurance claim lawsuit against her insurance carrier for what she claims amounts to a breach of the insurance contract. The woman’s property was seriously damaged in a hailstorm. Following the hailstorm, the woman contacted her insurance company and sought coverage under the terms of her policy for the damage her property sustained. The company sent out an adjustor to review the damage. At the conclusion of the investigation, the insurer issued a check to the woman. The woman now contends that the adjustor’s investigation was too cursory, resulting in the company issuing a check that was not sufficient to fully cover the damage to her property.
A Homeowner’s Insurance Carrier’s Duties After a Claim is Filed
Most homeowner’s have a legitimate expectation that after filing a claim with their insurer the carrier will promptly and thoroughly investigate and pay the claim in a timely manner. An insurer that fails to handle its obligations in a fair and reasonable fashion can find itself facing a homeowner’s breach of contract or insurance bad faith lawsuit.
Timeliness is not the only obligation that an insurance carrier owes to its insured. The insurance carrier owes other obligations and duties to the policyholder other than the duty to act in a timely fashion. The insurance carrier also must act reasonably when dealing with its insured or a claimant.
In the context of a homeowner’s insurance claim filed for damage to the property, the insurance company should:
- Take steps to reach out to you if it has a basis to believe you suffered a loss, such as in the aftermath of a large storm. An insurance company cannot simply bury its head in the sand and wait for you to file a claim.
- Assist you in properly filing a claim if you have difficulty doing so. If you need a claims form to complete, for example, your insurance carrier should provide you with the proper form in a reasonably prompt manner. If you do not know how to properly complete the claims form and submit it to your carrier, your insurance company should answer your questions and help you submit your claim.
- Promptly send an adjustor to survey the damage or otherwise investigate your claim. If emergency services are required, such as in the aftermath of a rainstorm, your insurer should promptly authorize such services if they are provided for in your policy so as to minimize the damage and loss you experience. An adjustor also should be sent quickly to examine your home so that your claim can be promptly resolved.
- Have its adjustor perform a thorough investigation which means the adjustor should take the time necessary to examine and document the extent of your loss. A proper investigation benefits both the insured and the insurer. Prompt inspection will prevent the loss of evidence regarding coverage and value of the claim which benefits both parties to the policy. An adjustor who makes a cursory examination of the property and damage is doing a disservice to both the insured and the insurer.
- Promptly pay your claim once the extent of your loss has been determined and your coverage ascertained. If the insurance company denies your claim, it should give you a reason for that denial in a timely manner so that you can take additional action, if necessary.
If you have questions about an insurance claim, you are invited to contact our law firm to speak to an experienced Miami insurance claims attorney. My law firm specializes in representing policyholders in claims disputes in Miami and throughout Florida. Click here to read about some of our case results. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations. No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees. Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.