The Battle After the Storm

If you’re like many other Americans you may have had storm damage toward the end of summer from the heavy storms that many of us suffer through. Some places in the Midwest and Western states suffered heavy damage from severe hail storms and tornadoes.

Because of the sheer volume of claims submitted, insurance companies it seems are trying to lump many different types of claims into a general category too best dispense with as many claims as possible in the shortest amount of time. This kind of claim handling doesn’t necessarily treat the policyholder as fairly as one expects to be, or as they should be treated. If your insurance company has resorted to this kind of claim handling, you may find yourself with a lot less cash to deal with needed repairs to your home even factoring in reasonable depreciation and deductibles.

The best thing to do is not lose your head, don’t take for face value the first settlement the insurance company offers you. It may be in your best interest to negotiate with the insurance company to have a readjustment of your property made by an independent adjuster rather than the insurance company appointed adjuster. If they do not agree to have your damage readjusted by an independent adjuster you still have the option to have the damage re-inspected by an independent adjuster and submit that adjustment to the insurance company for review. You may end up having to pay for the independent adjuster, but you will most probably be money ahead to do so if your initial settlement is considerably off the mark of any legitimate repair estimates you might have.

Insurance companies have gotten into the habit of sending out low adjustment valued claims in hopes that they’ll weed out those that are only going to take the money and run rather than actually repaired their properties. It’s one of the easiest ways for them to get ahead of the game not having to pay out as much in claims.

If it appears that that’s what your insurance company has done to you, don’t give up. Get as much supporting information as you can about the damage to your home. Get as many independent estimates for repair as you can and submit them to your insurance company. It shouldn’t be too difficult to get those estimates because many companies in this depressed economy are willing to go the extra mile in order to obtain business.

Don’t forget to get your insurance policy out and read the fine print, some companies employ a time limit for supporting information after the initial claim has been filed. If so you need to meet the criteria of the timeline set by the company.

It’s a fact that insurance companies don’t like to pay claims. They will do everything they can to not pay the full amount of claims filed. So it’s your job to prove to them that they are responsible to pay via the terms of your insurance contract. Don’t expect them to read the fine print for you, and don’t expect them to do anything to help you meet their timeline. So keep after them: daily if you need to. Make sure to make copies of all your documentation and every communication that you send or receive from your insurance company.

You can even go as far as recording telephone conversations. But before you do check your local and state regulations in regards to recorded phone conversations, many jurisdictions will require that you inform the person on the other end of the line that they are being recorded. And as ruthless as that might sound it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Remember that if you do inform the insurance company representative that they are being recorded, do it in a nonthreatening manner.

The bottom line is if you feel you haven’t been treated fairly by your insurance company, especially if you have a replacement cost guarantee, then you need to do everything in your power to ensure that the insurance company treats your claim fairly and gives you the money necessary to complete the repairs to your home. Remember to be courteous, prove your case with documentation and keep very good records. If you do these few simple things, you stand a better chance of getting a proper insurance settlement for the damages you incurred.

Are you preparing to do battle with your insurance company over an unfair claim adjustment? You are not alone, thousands of other Americans are preparing for the same battle to be fought. Just remember to keep your wits about you, stay calm and use these few strategies to obtain a fair and just insurance settlement for your storm damaged home.

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