When something like a natural disaster, an intruder in your home, or an accident on the road causes property damage to your property, it is a relief to know that the harm is covered by insurance. Repairs that are completed quickly as opposed to those that are drawn out and cause frustration can often be the result of having a solid insurance coverage purchased from a reputable supplier. Claiming the benefits to which you are entitled can feel like a constant uphill battle if the conditions of your policy are ambiguous or if the insurance provider is unresponsive.
After a damaging event, one of the most important decisions you will have to make is whether or not to retain the services of an attorney. This is especially true if you are already staring down a mountain of expensive repair bills.
To your relief, employing the services of a property damage attorney is not only quite inexpensive, but it also has the potential to boost the value of your claim and save you money in the long run. In this section, we will discuss what you may expect from the process of filing a claim for property damage, as well as how to determine if you need the assistance of an attorney.
If you still have questions after reading this, you should get in touch with a seasoned attorney in your region. The initial appointment with many of them is either free or offered at a reduced cost, which makes it simple and reasonable to receive the information you require.
The Claims Process with Your Property Insurance Company
When filing a claim for property damage, it’s important to know exactly what kind of insurance coverage you have. The following are examples of some of the more prevalent sorts of insurance:
Accidents Cause Residential And Commercial Property Damage
Insurance for a business, a residence, or a rental unit will typically pay for repairs after:
- Fires, explosions, and smoke
- Hurricanes and hailstorms
- Lightning strikes and fallen trees
- Mold damage and removal
- Theft, burglary, and vandalism
- Tornadoes and high winds
- Vehicle-on-property collisions
Keep in mind that some natural disasters are not covered by the typical property insurance policy. Flood, sinkhole, and earthquake damage coverage is optional. Owners of potentially at-risk properties frequently take out supplementary insurance policies.
In the event of covered damage to a home or business, most conventional property insurance plans will pay to repair or replace the whole building, including the basement, upper floors, and roof.
Decks, porches, sheds, garages, and swimming pools are just some of the extras and land enhancements that may be covered by your policy. Some policies additionally cover the cost of food and accommodation if a disaster renders a property uninhabitable while the owner waits for repairs.
Personal possessions inside the residence are often covered by both homeowner’s and renter’s insurance. Automobiles, collection sets, and other high-priced goods are only some examples of the kinds of things that policyholders can protect. As an analogy, certain commercial insurance plans will reimburse you for lost profits or reopen your business after an insured disaster.
Finally, liability coverage is typically included in both residential and commercial property insurance policies. This pays for medical bills and other damages incurred by third parties who are injured while on the policyholder’s property. Therefore, your normal property insurance coverage should assist you pay for the medical bills and legal expenses of a non-household member who is injured on your property.
Vehicular Damage from Traffic Accidents
Claims involving damage to vehicles are also common. Damages to your car may be covered by one or more insurance policies in the event of an accident.
A claim can be filed against the other driver’s or road user’s liability auto insurance policy to recover the costs of repairs if they are at fault for the accident. Most jurisdictions insist on witnesses to accidents being covered by insurance. Keep in mind that if you cause damage to someone else’s car, their liability insurance won’t help you out.
If you are unable to collect damages from the at-fault motorist or if the cost of repairs exceeds the liability policy limitations, you may be able to collect damages from other optional insurance. By way of illustration, collision insurance should cover any costs incurred as a result of a collision, regardless of who was at fault, while comprehensive insurance covers anything that might happen to your car, such as vandalism, theft, or damage from natural disasters.
The costs associated with auto diagnosis, repairs, and replacement components may be covered by insurance, depending on the policy you have and its limits. Furthermore, if your car is a total loss, your insurer must pay you the lesser of its fair market value and the policy’s maximum payout.
Making Your Insurance Company Pay What They Owe You
If you pay your insurance payments on time, you should receive a fair and prompt settlement of your legitimate claims. However, insurers are for-profit businesses, so they have an incentive to reduce and reject claims wherever possible.
This is why they may try to argue that they do not have to pay you the full amount you are owed by pointing to technicalities, loopholes, or minor mistakes you made while making your claim. There have been cases of firms acting in bad faith by postponing investigations, offering inadequate settlements, or outright rejecting otherwise legitimate claims.
If you don’t know your way around property law or insurance claims, you can fall prey to bad faith insurers. An experienced attorney for property damage can help you get the money you’re owed by exposing insurance companies that aren’t acting in good faith and negotiating fair settlements.
Your lawyer can advise you on whether or not to pursue a bad faith insurance lawsuit if your insurer does not treat your claim with reasonable good faith. If you believe or know that you have grounds to sue an insurance company for bad faith, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible because bad faith insurance regulations differ widely from state to state.
If you win your case against the insurance company for bad faith, you can get back the money you were supposed to get from your claim, plus any additional losses you incurred.
The Indications That You Need an Attorney for Your Property Damage
If the damage to your property is minor and the repair costs will be low, you may not need legal representation. If a driver who was following too closely crashed into your car at low speed, for instance, their auto liability insurance company should pay to fix your bumper without much trouble. If you happen to reside in a no-fault insurance state, however, your own carrier will be responsible for paying for the repairs. Such claims are often straightforward to submit, prepare, and resolve on your own.
Property damage lawsuits, however, are rarely as straightforward, and many otherwise simple claims are complicated by insurance companies’ restrictive budgets. If any of the following apply to your circumstances, you may want to consult with a property damage attorney:
Your Home Has Sustained Serious Damage
When the damage to your property is severe, it can be a hassle to investigate it, receive an estimate, and then fix it. Larger claims, brought on by greater property damage, are typically subject to closer scrutiny. If your insurance company is dragging its feet on investigations or disputing the full nature of your losses, hiring an attorney can help you push back.
Valuable Assets Were Among Those Damaged by the Catastrophe
Insurers will typically do anything they can to reduce the cost of a claim. It may be difficult to get the full amount of compensation, even if the valuables are individually covered, if the claim concerns expensive objects such as jewelry, antiques, or rare artwork. Your property damage attorney can consult with industry professionals to establish a just settlement amount, and then pursue full payment from the insurance on your behalf.
One of Your Business Was Harmed in the Incident
Damage to your retail establishment, eatery, or other commercial establishment could force you to close your doors and turn away customers until repairs are made. Because of this, property damage, even if it just results in a temporary shutdown of operations, can have far-reaching financial consequences for business owners. When your hard-earned company is on the line, having an attorney who can analyze your policy’s requirements and insist that your insurer uphold them is invaluable.
There is Some Uncertainty About the Kind of Protection That Are Offered to You
An attorney who specializes in property damage cases can help you understand the scope of your insurance policy’s coverage if you aren’t familiar with its language. A lawyer can help you assess your insurance and find every avenue of compensation available to you, even if they overlap.
Damage Responsibility is Uncertain or Contested
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, thus they will look for any reason to avoid paying out on a claim. Consult an attorney specializing in property damage claims if your insurer uses legalese to fight your claim or asserts that the damage was your fault and is thus not covered by your policy.
The Aversive Side is Represented by Attorneys
If anyone else is going to be getting legal representation for their stake in the claim, you should give it serious consideration. Even if the other party does not appear hostile, it is still a bad idea to face off against their lawyers without your own representation. A competent attorney can help you through the legal system’s maze by gathering and rebutting evidence, submitting a claim with no clerical errors, and negotiating aggressively on your behalf.
Your Settlement Offer is Inadequate to Compensate You for Your Losses
There are a number of reasons why a settlement offer could not cover all of your damages. It’s possible the insurance firm disputes the extent of the damage you’ve claimed, or that the estimated repair costs are more than the policy’s coverage maximum. In any event, having an attorney on your side can help you save money by tracking down every possible source of reimbursement and fighting aggressively for the largest possible settlement.
Your Insurance Company Unnecessarily Stalls Your Claim
Excessive or unjustified delays in starting claim investigations, replying to queries, settling or paying genuine claims, and so on are classic examples of bad faith insurance practices. Don’t wait to consult an attorney if you’re having trouble getting in touch with the adjuster or if your insurance is postponing a judgment on your claim. Hiring an experienced lawyer sends a message to the insurance company that you mean business and that they should stop dragging their feet.
Your Insurance Company Arbitrarily Rejected Your Claim, Despite Its Validity
Insurers have a responsibility to pay valid claims. Your supplier may be behaving in bad faith if they refuse to do so or provide an unjustified denial. In some cases, you may feel you have no choice but to seek legal recourse, in which case, having an attorney on your side is crucial.
An expert attorney who is familiar with insurance bad faith litigation will be invaluable to you in a case involving bad faith insurance practices, which is much more complex than a claim for reimbursement of repair expenses.
Reasons to Seek the Counsel of an Attorney If Your Property Has Been Damaged
You should seek legal counsel without delay if your insurer rejects a claim you consider to be valid. If your case isn’t handled by an attorney who is well-versed in the relevant law, it could swiftly crumble under scrutiny. You shouldn’t take chances with a big investment like your car, house, or company.
In the end, it may be cheaper to hire an attorney to handle your property damage case than to try to handle the situation on your own. You can consult a local attorney, get their advice, and then make up your own mind as to whether or not you need legal assistance.
Since many law offices dealing with property damage offer free or low-cost consultations, you have little to lose by contacting many companies to find out what your alternatives are. Even if you decide against hiring legal representation, you will have done so knowing all of your options. What this means is that you have nothing to lose by consulting a lawyer and everything to gain.