If you file a claim with your homeowners insurance company, you want to get an amount that will cover the cost to make repairs and replace damaged belongings. Your insurance company wants to maximize its profits and pay out as little as possible. If you don’t receive the amount you believe you deserve, hiring an attorney is one option.
Why Your Claim May be Denied
Your homeowners insurance policy contains a list of exclusions, or circumstances under which the insurer won’t cover a claim. For example, a standard homeowners policy excludes flooding. If your house gets damaged by a flood, the insurance company will refuse to pay.
In many cases, the cause of damage isn’t clear, or an underlying factor is at play. For instance, maybe your roof got damaged in a storm, but the claim was denied because an insurance adjuster argued that you didn’t properly maintain the roof and that made it more susceptible to storm damage.
Sometimes it’s a matter of interpretation. Every situation is unique. If the circumstances that led to the damage don’t exactly fit the wording in your policy, you may see things one way, and the insurance company may see things differently.
Why You May Get Less Money Than You Expected
The insurance company might not consider the damage as severe as you do. In that case, you may have to provide additional information to back up your case.
If the insurer offers less than you feel you deserve for damaged personal belongings, check the terms of your policy. Many homeowners don’t understand the difference between replacement cost coverage, which pays for a new and identical or comparable item, and actual cash value, which takes depreciation into account. People often think they have replacement cost coverage when, in fact, they don’t.
Avenues to Consider
Review the insurer’s explanation for denying your claim or giving you a small payout and check the exact language in your policy. The insurance company may be right. If you believe the insurer is wrong, you can seek professional assistance to get what you believe you deserve.
Hiring an attorney to help with a homeowners insurance claim can be costly, but you won’t have to pay thousands of dollars up front. You can hire an attorney who works on contingency. If the lawyer wins, a portion of your settlement will go to the attorney as a fee. If the lawyer doesn’t win the case, you will pay nothing.
If you filed an expensive claim and the insurer denied it or offered much less than you think you deserve, hiring an attorney may be worth it. Receiving a letter from a lawyer may be enough to get the insurance company to reconsider its decision.
Before you hire an attorney, you may want to seek help from a public claims adjuster. A public adjuster can negotiate with the insurer on your behalf but can’t sue the insurance company or represent you in a legal capacity.