There are various circumstances in which an insurance company will stall, underpay or deny a policyholder’s claim, even when that claim is reasonable and legitimate. While seeking legal counsel should not be the first course of action in the event of damage to your property, property insurance litigation is an avenue for the policyholder to ensure that they are receiving a fair settlement to their claim. Under the law, only attorneys and public adjusters are allowed to adjust insurance claims.
UNDERSTANDING BAD FAITH CLAIMS
Claims that are stalled, ignored, or denied have often fallen victim to insurance companies’ attempts at cutting costs and increasing revenue. These attempts can cross over into the area of ‘bad faith practices’ when restrictive claims processing procedures prohibit insurance adjusters from adequately investigating the claim, or when adjusters do not have the time or authority needed to process the claim.
WHEN DEALING WITH PROPERTY INSURANCE CLAIMS, THE TERM ‘BAD FAITH’ ENCOMPASSES ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:
- Unreasonable interpretation of the language used in the policy.
- Failure to properly investigate a claim.
- Underpayment or delay in payment of a claim.
- Unreasonable denial of a claim.
- Failure to respond.
CHOOSE AN ATTORNEY THAT UNDERSTANDS PROPERTY INSURANCE
You may think you’ll be more comfortable working with the attorney you know, but insurance litigation requires knowledge and understanding of the industry that other attorneys may not have. Dealing with insurance companies requires years of experience and knowledge that very few attorneys possess. Make sure you work with an attorney who has experience handling matters similar to your own.
After damage has occurred to your property, you are obligated under the terms and conditions of your insurance policy, to mitigate the damage. Essentially, this means you must stop the damage from getting worse. There are mitigation/remediation companies that specialize in this field. The services they perform are billable to your insurance company. This is a post-loss obligation and can void your claim if you fail to fulfill your part.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE SUIT ON A PROPERTY CLAIM?
Not as long as you may think. The statute of limitations to file suit on a property insurance claim varies from state to state. It is important that you file your claim immediately. Always take plenty of photographs of the damage. Keep a log of the names of each insurance representative that you speak with, the dates and times you spoke with them, and keep all email correspondence. Having a record of all communications and documentation of the damages to your property will be vital to your case. If you think you’re being ignored by your insurer, it’s important to seek legal counsel before you lose your right to sue. Don’t wait!