5 Signs Of Underpayment On A Property Damage Claim, And What You Can Do
When your property sustains damage from a storm or other serious event, you count on your property insurance to assess the damage and provide financial coverage to help you rebuild. Many times, this will be a relatively smooth and straightforward process, leaving both the insured and the insurer satisfied. Other times, disputes arise regarding the scope of damage and available coverage.
Insured homeowners should look for certain indicators or “red flags” that their claim is not being fully covered.
- The Insurer’s Estimate Seems Too Low
From Day One after an incident, you want to gather as much information as possible regarding the damage to present as part of your claim. This may include independent estimates and evaluations of the damage. If the insurance company’s assessment seems underwhelming in comparison, they may have simply undervalued the damage or they could have been acting in bad faith to devalue your claim. Either way, you will need to investigate further, pursue your claim, and potentially discuss these issues with a property damage attorney that can address the issue for you.
- The Claim is Being Processed More Quickly Than Expected
Most insurance customers tend to complain that their claim is taking too long to pay out. This could be due to a number of reasons, including a good-faith effort by the insurer to properly evaluate the damage. Property insurers have to follow certain legal guidelines for payment of insurance claims in Florida.
If you have the opposite problem – the insurance company has offered to settle the claim much sooner than expected – then you may reasonably be concerned that they missed a step or overlooked some crucial damage to the property.
- Damage was Missed, Omitted, or Reduced
You’ll want to carefully review a potential insurance settlement to make sure that all damaged elements were covered under the policy. There could be a discrepancy between the damage you submitted, and what’s being covered. The insurance company might have also underestimated and depreciated the labor costs involved with your repairs. You don’t want to be left paying out of pocket for something that could and should have been covered by your insurer. Omissions or reductions can be the result of a good-faith difference in opinion on the damage, a mistake in the claims process, or a bad-faith effort by the insurer to save money and reduce your payout.
- Some or All of Your Claim has been Denied
Insurers will often try to deny some aspects of your claim, or deny it entirely. They may claim that a damaging event was not covered under your policy, or that you failed to provide proper documentation as required by the policy. Denials of claims – in whole or in part – save insurance companies money and help them maintain healthy profits. If you believe you were denied coverage that you were rightly entitled to, you need to challenge the insurance company. Sometimes this means consulting with a property damage attorney that knows your rights and will fight for them.
- You’ve Been Offered the Actual Cash Value instead of the Cost to Replace
At times, the insurance company will offer to pay only the actual cash value to the homeowner, instead of the full cost to replace or repair the property (which can usually be more expensive). This saves the insurer money and passes the extra costs on to you. Property owners should remain vigilant and should not be afraid to seek legal help if there is a genuine dispute over this issue.
What to Do if You Think You Are Being Underpaid
The first thing not to do is sign a contract finalizing the claim and releasing the insurer from future liability. Many homeowners make this mistake in a rush to collect on the claim and move forward with repairs.
If you notice any discrepancies or “red flags”, raise the issue with your insurance company and consult with a qualified Daytona area property damage attorney that has experience in this area. Having handled thousands of these cases before, they may be able to analyze whether the insurer is making a fair offer, or perhaps notice something you didn’t see. If needed, they can pursue your issues with the insurer directly or in court through a legal claim. Property owners have a number of homeowners insurance rights under Florida law, and should remember their options when an insurance claim is being processed.
Our Daytona, Florida Property Damage Insurance Attorneys Can Help You Receive Fair Payment on a Property Damage
Insurance companies will use many tactics to avoid paying fair value on property damage claims. If your insurer is playing games, or you don’t feel they’ve offered what you believe is needed to cover your loss, our property damage attorneys at Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A., can help. We will review your pending claim, and let the insurance company know about any discrepancies. If legal action is required, we will take that step as well. Call our Daytona law offices at 386-252-5170 or contact our Daytona Beach property damage attorneys online to request a consultation today.