Fire Insurance Lawyer
Dealing With A Home or Business Fire Insurance Claim
The aftermath of a fire in your home can be stressful and devastating. If your valid insurance claim is denied, your stress escalates. After paying insurance premiums for years, homeowners should count on their claim submitted for compensation to be handled fairly. Unfortunately, some fire insurance companies may deny a request without explanation.
If a fire insurance company denied your claim, you may have legal options. Consulting with a fire insurance lawyer may be helpful. Below is more information about fire insurance, fire insurance disputes and what a fire insurance attorney could do for you.
Is Fire Damage Covered Under Your Insurance?
Your homeowner policy language will dictate the damages that are covered if a fire occurs. Some insurance policies cover damage only caused by the fire itself. Other policies will cover damage from smoke and water. The insurance company may cover different damage types, such as roof, plumbing, and electrical damage. Structural damage and melted personal property may qualify for coverage, too.
What Fire Damage Is Covered Under Your Insurance Policy?
Most homeowners’ policies cover the home and contents if a fire happens. Homeowners’ insurance policies pay out more in fire claims than any other type of loss. Every insurance policy has a different deductible, but most cover similar types of damage. Your policy should cover the following:
- Your home: Insurance coverage probably covers fire and smoke damage to the house. Attached structures such as a garage and patio should be covered. The insurance company should cover repairs, minus your deductible.
- Your personal property: Most homeowners’ policies cover property damage from fire. Personal property includes clothing, electronics, appliances, and furniture. However, expensive items, such as fine art or jewelry, are not protected. Also, if you have massive amounts of cash in the home, the insurance company will not cover this. But you can buy added coverage for these belongings.
- Your detached property: Your homeowners’ policy should cover property structures that are not attached to the house, such as fences, detached garages, and sheds. Some policies will cover landscaping that was destroyed by fire.
- Loss of use: This coverage pays for you to live somewhere else while the home is being fixed. Some of the living expenses covered are hotel costs, rent, food, and related costs that you would not have if you were still in the home.
If the insurer rejects your claim unfairly, you may have legal remedies to this problem.
Why Did They Deny Your Fire Insurance Claim?
All insurance companies try to pay as little in claims as they can. However, they must have a good reason to deny your request. If the insurer rejects your claim unfairly, you may have legal remedies to this problem.
One of the worst things your fire insurance company can do after the incident is to accuse you of starting the fire falsely. They may use scare tactics such as sending in a ‘special investigative unit’ to interview you. Or, they may have insurance company lawyers examine you under oath. These are intimidation measures that are encouraging the homeowner to give up and not pursue the claim.
Many fire losses mean a huge payout by the insurance company, and sometimes they will engage in various games to avoid paying.
Some of the unfair reasons insurance companies deny fire claims include:
- Damaged property is undervalued
- Arson is alleged
- Claim not investigated promptly
- Denial of total loss even though you have supporting evidence
- Prosecution threats to the insured to try to lower the payout
- Violation of policy language
- Company may delay payment or valuation of a claim, alleging fraud or arson may have occurred. If arson caused the fire, then the request can be denied. However, the insurance company must prove arson caused the blaze. It is not your responsibility to prove you did not commit arson. Without strong evidence, a fire insurance company that denies your claim could be acting in bad faith.
Also, fire damage to your home is not covered if it was vacant at the time. A vacancy has a different definition in each insurance policy. Generally, the house is empty for insurance purposes if it has had no one living in it for more than 30 days in a row. But you can still protect a vacant home if you buy special coverage.
The Importance of a Contents Inventory
Whether the insurance company is giving you the runaround or not, you must create a contents inventory after the fire. Having an accurate and thorough contents inventory is essential so you can present to the insurance company a list of what was destroyed or damaged. That way, you have the best chance of getting as much compensation as possible for your personal property.
A fire claim where any insured property may be repaired or salvaged also needs to be adjusted by the insurance company. That is why the company needs to use experts, such as fire causation experts, industrial hygienists, and water damage experts. If they do not do so, your insurance company may not address significant damage areas to the home. This can result in a reduced payout.
What an Insurance Dispute Lawyer Can Do For You
If you file a fire insurance claim that is not denied outright, your insurance company will investigate what caused the fire. They also will check how extensive the damage is and the value of your claim. Some fire insurance companies will blame the homeowner for the fire. They may even hire investigators to find reasons to pin the blame on you.
Insurance dispute attorneys have the resources to perform their assessments that can be used in settlement negotiations with the insurance company. They can work with fire experts to determine what caused the fire and estimate the losses in the fire. Additionally, they may find damage to the property that the insurer did not see. Finally, they will provide their estimate of the value of the claim.
When the fire insurance company seems to be giving you the runaround on your claim, it could be a prudent move to talk to an attorney.
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New Orleans, LA 70139
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