If you have suffered home damage in Edmond, Oklahoma then you know you have to deal with your insurance company. Unfortunately, dealing with insurance companies isn’t always an easy process. There are some tactics that companies use to deny home insurance claims. If these tactics are happening to you then you should work with an experienced lawyer, such as Doug Terry Law.
A common habit used by an insurance company is unresponsiveness when you try to contact them. Calls are ignored or not returned promptly. Messages go unanswered and people aren’t available when you call. This can be an illegal tactic so it’s important to keep a log of calls you do have and attempts to contact them and, if you can, put your correspondence in writing.
Delaying an Investigation or Payment of the Claim
Delaying your settlement or investigation are also common tactics. During the delay, the insurance company may also use illegal or unethical methods to investigate information that may make your claim invalidated. Once your claim has been processed it may still just delay your payment. Remember that every insurance company contains the implied duty of fair dealing and good faith and in order to have this, it means the insurance company should conduct a thorough and prompt investigation into your claim.
One common delay tactic is to bog you down in paperwork or ask for an excessive amount of documentation in order to start the claims process. The insurance company may also ask for a lot of information that is not related to the case knowing that you aren’t going to be able to provide this information and thus open up the window to deny your claim. Pushing paperwork is common and the insurance company may say that documents are part of the standard process of claim filing so you don’t have anything to lose by signing them. However, it can be hard to know exactly what you are signing unless you have some experience in this field. Once you have signed the paperwork they are pushing on you then you may lose out on the chance to get additional compensation you are entitled to. Insurance companies know that you want to get the claim settled because you want to get things taken care of. Be sure to contact an attorney before you sign any paperwork so you can have the right set of eyes to look at the paperwork.
Underpaying the Claim
If your home is damaged, the insurance company knows that you need the cash to make repairs so the company takes advantage of this need or the fact that you want to move on from the process and are tired of dealing with it, so you settle to stop it. The company then makes an offer for a settlement much less than the claim is worth. In this case, it’s important to not accept this low offer since it closes the claim and then you may not have enough money to do the necessary repairs on your home.
Misrepresenting the Terms of the Policy
You should always read and understand the terms of any insurance policy. However, this can be hard to do on your own so it may be necessary to find someone to help you. It’s a bad faith tactic for an insurance company to knowingly misrepresent the terms of the policy and use this to their advantage. It leverages this into an undervalued settlement or a denial.
Changing the Terms of Your Policy
Insurance companies might change the terms of your policy and use this to their advantage. Once the terms have been changed then it states the new terms don’t cover the claim and you don’t have to get any money. This is unethical and illegal. You should have the policy that was in effect at the time of the claim. Be sure to save your documents when you get the policy and review it to see if this change was included in your policy at the time or added later.
Forcing a Lawsuit
When an insurance company is trying to deny your claim, it may also be trying to force you to sue in order to get the money you are entitled to. This means you have to hire a lawyer and spend time and effort and it also creates further delays since a court case adds more time to the already long process.
Pretending to Be Working for You with a Lesser Offer
If the company isn’t hard to get ahold of then the opposite can happen and an insurance adjuster will contact you immediately after you file a claim. His or her demeanor may be kind and sympathetic and you want to avoid falling prey to this. Be pleasant to the adjuster but be sure you are being your best advocate. Companies may agree to a settlement and give you some extra cash for the trouble and you may think that this is going to go better than expected. Be sure to steer clear of this trap. If the insurance company is giving you extra money on its own then this means you may have a much bigger claim. Insurance adjusters will try to be your friend but they aren’t on your side and you or an attorney need to fight for your best interests.
Telling You to Not Hire an Attorney
The goal of the insurance adjuster is to deny and avoid paying for the claim so they would prefer you not get an attorney involved who will hold them accountable and help you fight for your rights. Don’t listen to everything the adjuster has to say and if you feel like you are not getting what you are entitled to then hiring a lawyer is your best option.
Refusing to Pay a Valid Claim
The insurance company may just refuse to pay a valid claim. Insurance companies are bound by state law to use fair claims practices. If the company denies the claim that the policy covers then this qualifies as acting in bad faith, but it can be a tactic used.
Making Threatening Statements
An insurance company shouldn’t make threatening statements to any policyholders or third parties who are helping with the claims policy. If the insurance company makes a threat then you should contact an attorney or the state insurance board.
Sometimes insurance companies take unreasonable measures to avoid paying claims that are owed to policyholders. While some of these tactics are just used to deny paying, some can also be illegal. If you are having issues with your claim and want to know if the tactics are illegal, consult with a lawyer.