Many Hollywood residents (this writer included!) have been disappointed with smaller than expected payouts or even flat-out denials of claims they submitted after Hurricane Irma or other events in which they lost or sustained damage to their property. Here are a few tips, with some input from insurance attorney Marc Ben-Ezra of Hollywood’s Florida Professional Law Group, to help you get some satisfaction:
- Insurance company adjusters vs. your own experts. An insurance company will generally use its own experts to examine the property and estimate damages. This can sometimes go against you. For example, on a roof damage claim, an insurer’s engineer could suggest that the property’s roof was decayed or damaged before the storm and that opinion could reduce or deny payment on a property owner’s roof. As a property owner, you may be able to have your own experts examine the property and offer contrary opinions to improve your claim. Call your attorney or an independent adjuster for more information about your rights.
- Delayed payments. When valid insurance claims are delayed, property owners are inconvenienced and often postpone needed repairs. Insurance companies may be slow due to the volume of claims, or may delay payments by requesting more and more documents or by stretching the investigation time, sometimes without valid reasons. When insurers delay payment, they retain their money, benefitting from the interest earned. Insurance laws provide timelines for insurance payments. A provider that is not in compliance may be found to be acting in bad faith. Again, an attorney may be able to help.
- Denials and low offers. Insurers have countless ways to pay less for valid claims. They may use defective outdated pricing lists that don’t account for soaring construction or contractor pricing. They may use unreliable depreciation models and cost structures that don’t reflect the accurate age, life and use of items in your property. If your insurance company makes an unacceptable payment on your claim, you don’t have to accept their offer as final. Accept the check but don’t sign a release. While an insurance company is there to assist you, it is also in business to make money and may try to reduce costs when paying your claim by using the terms of your policy to deny responsibility for the claim. Sometimes this decision is a mistake. Other times, the policy and law could be interpreted differently. Don’t take “NO” as a final answer. Keep asking questions until you are satisfied, and if necessary, call in a professional for additional help and support.
For more information, call 954-284-0900 or visit www.FLPLG.com.