When you make an insurance claim, you depend on your insurer to come through and cover the costs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Insurers have an interest in minimizing their payouts to keep business profitable, even more so in the wake of natural disasters that affect many of their clients and can cost them extensively.
However, there are steps you can take to improve chances of get you better settlement in a timely manner.
1) Review the Settlement
Before you reach out for help from an insurance lawyer, review your claim and make sure it really is unfair. Consider what your policy actually covers.
For example, if you have been paying for Actual Cash Value (ACV) coverage, you likely won’t receive as much as it would cost to replace everything. ACV coverage accounts for the depreciation of your belongings or the damaged structure.
2) Hire an Insurance Lawyer
You believe you’re eligible for a larger payout, but the insurance company has made its offer. You can still get help with home insurance claims by talking to an insurance lawyer. They can identify where the insurer has undervalued costs and negotiate an improved payout.
3) Get Your Own Estimates
An insurance adjuster working for the insurer will put together a Scope of Work to determine what needs to be done to repair your home. Unfortunately, there is no real industry standard when it comes to the professionals who evaluate your losses. A Scope of Work can be completed by a builder, engineer, or the adjuster themselves.
Next, the Scope of Work is bid on by contractors preferred by the company. The lowest bid becomes the amount the insurer is willing to pay. If you feel the Scope of Work is inaccurate, you may want to get your own evaluation done.
4) Dispute the Claim
If negotiating with the insurer won’t work and you have exhausted your options, you can move to the dispute resolution process. In this process, both you and the insurance company will have a representative who works with an umpire to resolve disputes. They will negotiate each item of the claim, and the umpire will intervene where agreements can’t be reached.
5) Don’t Make an Unnecessary Claim
It doesn’t always make sense to even make a claim, and repeatedly getting your insurer to cover short-term costs can wind up costing you in the long-term. Home insurance with a claims history will come with higher rates. Here’s when you should reconsider filing:
- The cost is lower than your deductible or within 20% of your deductible. Your deductible is the amount you have to pay before insurance covers the costs.
- The damage you want to repair is more home maintenance than an unexpected loss.
- Your policy doesn’t cover the claim you’re making, i.e., your policy doesn’t cover flood damage, but you claim your flooded basement anyway.
There are some exceptions, especially for claims that are close to your deductible. If there is a chance that damage might get worse with time, it might be worthwhile to initiate the claim, or else bigger, future claims might get rejected.
Get help with the insurance claims process and make sure you receive a fair settlement.