All insurance companies have a team of attorneys that deflect legal claims. Insurance companies routinely refuse to pay claims as a method of reducing expenses, regardless of validity of the claim. Some claims are obvious and leave little room for the insurance company to establish a legal position for denial. Storm damage is one of those claim areas that can be argumentative and insurance companies will do everything they can to reduce or deny the claim. Claim denials can also include level of coverage and associated expenses, such as living expenses while the claim is being settled or work is being completed. It is not a good idea for the storm victim to attempt handling a potential legal claim without consulting with an effective property attorney because of the possibility of additional remunerations that can be averted by the insurance company.
The Insurance Adjuster
The duty of the insurance adjuster is to discount anything they can find that may be presented in court for claim damage reduction. Adjusters will often attempt to settle a case quickly if they can avoid a significant payout. The insurance company sells investment protection, but they are actually in the cash flow business. Less payout equals more company profit. If the adjuster offers a quick settlement on a storm-damaged property, then this should be taken as a red flag. The property owner should call an attorney immediately. If the adjuster is not successful at settling the claim, then the insurance company will begin balking as a method of reducing claim levels. Always remember that the adjuster is in a hurry, hoping the claimant will accept the offer, and the insurance company holds out hoping for the same result.
The Insurance Company
The insurance company will assess the policy and determine what damages they will cover. The claimant should be ready for a long negotiation. The victim should never be acceptable to a claim denial based on the storm being an “act of God.” There is no such stipulation in any homeowners insurance policy. However, flood insurance is never included in standard property insurance and must be carried as a rider on the policy. Failure to carry flood insurance can be problematic in cases of storm damage that include tidal surge or structure flooding. This can establish the possibility of a significant claim reduction, including claim denial in court. The insurance company will normally also be minimal in what they will allow in terms of inconvenience coverage, such as renting a dwelling while awaiting a settlement. According to our tornado insurance claim source, they will review the policy in attempting to avoid paying replacement value instead of market value coverage. It is important for the property owner to know their policy. The insurance company surely does.
One advantage concerning storm damage claims is that the weather is generally predictable. Documentation can be a problem in storm damage claim cases because the insurance company can claim that some damage was already present. If it is apparent that a major storm is on the verge of hitting, then the property owner can take pictures or videos of the property before the fact that may serve as documentation in case a claim is highly contested. Insurance companies can plan denial strategy in storm coverage because they also know ahead of time and will have a large number of claims in association with the storm. The homeowner should be prepared to retain an experienced property claims attorney if this occurs because of the company drive to limit claim payouts. Balking is always part of the limiting strategy.
Anthony Joseph is a researcher/freelance author, and a contributing writer for Doyle Raizner. If you’ve filed a tornado insurance claim that’s recently been denied, let their attorneys be the ones to make your situation right. Anyone who’s ever been through a tornado has reason to wonder how an insurance company can deny a property damage claim for owners who have current policy’s. Even without a direct hit by the funnel cloud, the accompanying windstorm, and hail can clear a path of destruction over a half-mile wide.