Can I dispute my home insurance claim?

22 Nov

Nobody enjoys dealing with damage to their home or possessions and it all gets quite a bit more stressful if your insurer denies your claims or offers an insufficient amount to actually repair the damage. However, consumers do have options if their homeowners insurance claim is denied or they are unhappy with the settlement offer, most settlements or denials can be appealed with your insurance company.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to deal with a denied claim.

Always review your coverage when making a claim

If your home has been damaged, you should read and review your policy for coverage details as well as any exclusions included in the policy wording. Look for information regarding what type of damage is covered as well as what property or other structures on your property are covered.

Read up on the claim process as well as what documentation is needed for the claim. Be sure that you fully understand the deductible that applies to your specific damage. Some policies have a different deductible, often a percentage deductible, for wind or hail damage. A percentage deductible can dramatically increase your share of the repair costs. 

If your claim has been denied, make sure you have submitted all of the necessary evidence and paperwork by reviewing the claim process outlined in your policy. If you are confident that you have submitted all the required paperwork and evidence of a claim, ask your insurer to review your claim again or request a new examination of any additional evidence you provided. 

Always provide photos and video of the damage from a variety of angles as well as any eyewitness statements, and other information that is vital to your claim.

Consider hiring an independent appraiser

If you have asked your insurer to reexamine your claim, you may want to consider hiring an independent appraiser or public insurance adjuster to help. In most states, consumers have the right to hire an independent adjuster to examine your claim and work on your behalf to get a fair settlement. Public insurance adjusters are not affiliated with any insurance company. 

Always verify that any adjuster you are considering is properly licensed in your state and ask for references before making a final decision. Independent adjusters will examine your claim as well as the damage to your home before deciding on your next course of action. If they agree with you that you have not been treated fairly by your insurance, they should contact your insurer on your behalf to work on getting your claim settled. 

A public adjuster will charge a fee for the work, typically 15 percent of the settlement claim so be sure to factor in these additional costs when deciding if a public adjuster is necessary to get your claim settled. While there are no guarantees that they will be able to change your insurers mind, most public adjusters have years of experience dealing with insurance companies and can often help get your claim dealt with in a fair manner.

File a complaint with your state’s insurance department

If your insurance company is still denying your claim or offering a settlement that won’t cover your repair costs, you may want to file a complaint with the insurance department in your state. In most cases, the state insurance department will investigate the claim to make sure your insurance company is abiding by state laws regarding claims. Ask about additional resources the state may make available for consumers fighting their insurance company.

Hire a lawyer

If you have tried all the other options, it may be time to hire a lawyer. It is important to remember that your legal fees will most likely have to be paid out of pocket. It is possible that if your insurance company settles you could ask for your attorney fees to be paid by them but there no guarantees they will agree to that or that they will settle at all. If you are considering hiring a lawyer, be sure to balance the legal fees you will incur against the benefit of having your claim approved or settled. 

If you have a large claim, hiring an attorney may make sense but if you are dealing with a smaller claim, the cost of a lawyer will often outweigh the benefits. 

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