Hurricane Irma Denied Claims and Lowballed Claims. What Is a Homeowner To Do?
Hurricanes are terrifying and destructive storms that leave a costly wake of property damage. Unfair denials, mysterious delays, and underpayments are common issues for policyholders, and many are unaware that they have rights and can fight back against insurance companies acting in bad faith.
Every Homeowner that has damaged from a major hurricane is bound to face some challenges. Some homeowners have never submitted a major insurance claim, and they are often unprepared for some of problems that crop up.
One of the primary issues that we see deals with offers that are inadequate and don’t cover the true cost of the damages to a property. Receiving these kinds of “lowball” offers can be especially frustrating when someone has waited weeks or months for payment after a disaster, and some policyholders are tempted to take it and just move on. However, you should know that you may be able to negotiate with the insurance company for the full worth of your claim.
What to Do If You’ve Received a “Lowball” Offer for a Hurricane Insurance Claim?
If you have received a laughably low offer for your hurricane damages, you already know it’s no laughing matter. The difference between a “lowball” offer and the true worth of your claim can be significant. The best thing you can do to fight an unfair settlement offer and work toward a better resolution is hire a Licensed Contractor like Coastal Roofing & Waterproofing that has the experience with storm damage.
Understand what your insurance claim is worth
If you don’t know how much your insurance coverage should cover, or if you haven’t included everything that the policy will cover, then you don’t know if what the insurance company offers you is off base. Make sure that you have gotten thorough assessments of all your hurricane damage, including potentially “hidden” damages that can cause issues later on. Remember, too, that your coverage may not be limited to just the costs of structural damage. You also may be able to seek reimbursement of some of the costs of relocation, temporary repairs, business interruption, and more.
Don’t accept the first offer from your insurance company
You don’t have to accept the first settlement offer you receive from the insurance company. You should know that the first settlement from the insurance company is often lower than it should be. Sometimes, the offer is too low because there has been error or something was overlooked. However, some insurance companies also routinely offer less with the initial settlement in hopes of saving their own bottom lines. Before jumping to accept the first offer from the insurance company, you should carefully review the offer with your own advocate, a public adjuster.
Don’t accept an offer you don’t agree with.
If you receive any kind of settlement offer or check from the insurance company that you don’t agree with, don’t accept it. As in the above situation, you should instead carefully review the offer with your public adjuster and try to nail down why the amount is less than you expected.
Insurance Company Tactics
Here are some tactics insurance companies may use to make getting money for damages difficult:
- Denial that insurance coverage even exists;
- Denial of your claim because your claim is excluded or partially excluded under your policy;
- Denies any part of your claim;
- Unreasonably delays the processing, adjustment, or payment of your claim;
- Makes misleading or false statements to you;
- Refuses to pay you under one coverage or attempts to force you to settle under other policy coverage;
- Tries to lowball you with undervalued estimates, offer or payments;
- Tells you that you do not need a public adjuster to resolve the claim;
- Requires a written release of any supplemental claim as a condition of settlement or payment on your claim; or
- The check for payment from your insurer or the letter that accompanies it uses terms like “full” or “final” when you reasonably believe that you have a supplemental or additional claim for that loss.
If you encounter any of those problems — or any other dispute with your insurance provider— handling things on your own may be time consuming and difficult.