According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, approximately 30% of claims made after Hurricane Irma, and almost 14% of claims made after Hurricane Michael, were closed but not paid by insurance companies. Closed and not paid is a denial of the claim. In addition to flat out denials, many paid claims were underpaid by insurance companies. We have helped numerous clients get a fair settlement to make properties whole again and to the same standards as before the hurricane damage occurred.
Based on our experience, here are five ways to avoid hurting your property damage claim.
1. Record all Damage, When It Happens
When you notice damage, document it. That means when it happens and where it happens. When damage occurs, the first thing on our minds is just to fix the problem. However, if you don’t document the damage when it happens, insurance companies will try to use your lack of proof against your claim. Be cautious with your response, when being questioned by your insurance company. They’re going to use what you say to justify not paying or underpaying you. Also, note that you should keep a record of the conversations between you and your insurance provider.
2. Keep Damaged Materials
Don’t discard any damaged materials without letting the insurance company inspect them first. An issue that people come across is that their insurance company will say that their property was already damaged. Which ties back to the first point, record the damage. If the insurance company can’t inspect the broken or damaged material, then they’ll only have your word to go on. Again, don’t throw anything away because you want the evidence to do the talking.
3. Don’t Assume Their First Offer is Their Final Offer
When your insurance provider has sent you the first offer, don’t assume that it’s their final offer. The whole business of insurance is built on paying as little as possible so they can profit as much as possible.
“Don’t assume because you got a check you’re done,” said Yemil Aragon, an attorney for Florida Professional Law Group. “There is a misconception that the insurance company is your friend. However, they are analyzing everything you say and trying to find a way to turn it against you. This can be a stressful situation, especially if you’ve lost something special to you, which can trigger an emotional response.”
It’s important to remember to keep emotions out of your discussions with all insurance company representatives. Stay focused on the facts. Don’t embellish, and don’t answer questions you don’t know the answers to.
4. Get a Second Opinion
Remember when the insurance company sends out a field adjuster, they work for the insurance company, not you. They are looking for what the insurance company told them to look for. They could miss key components of your damage that could increase the value of your claim. After the insurance company’s adjuster checks out the property, hire a professional who is on your side to assess the damages further before you sign the insurance company’s release stating you will not ask for more money.
5. Hire Help ASAP
Finally, don’t wait to get help. If you’re starting a new claim but are unsure how it works, or if you’re dealing with an underpaid or denied claim, don’t try to do it yourself. Here at Florida Professional Law Group, we deal with insurance companies all day every day, and we are here to help you.