What happens when an insurance company won’t pay?

Folks in Florida and Texas are dealing with the aftermath of property damage due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Many people did not have flood insurance, and many did not have policies that will cover the total extent of the damage.

For those who do did purchase adequate coverage, will their insurance companies actually pay the claims, or will they delay or deny payments? Insurance companies are in the business of making money. One way to ensure they keep their profits is to deny claims, citing a variety of reasons.

How to protect yourself

To keep from being caught in a legal morass after your home sustains storm or fire damage, document your home’s current condition and contents so that if and when the time comes, you have the evidence to refute the insurance company’s assertions. Below are some ways you can protect yourself in advance:

Document the condition of your house: Walk through your home and around your property and take a video. Insurance companies have a tendency to deny claims based on the assertion that you did not maintain your home properly.

For example, they may charge that you did not maintain your roof and if you had, the straight lines winds would not have destroyed it. With a video of your home’s current condition, you will be in a position to refute that claim.

Document maintenance and improvements you make: Did you just replace your roof? Have you updated your plumbing or electrical? Make sure you keep copies of all contracts and payments you have made. If disaster hits and your insurance company wants proof that your roof is really only five years old, you’ll have it.

You have options

In a perfect world, your insurance company would act ethically and pay the claim to which you are entitled. Even good adjusters, however, make bad decisions, so keeping track of your property is always a good idea.

In the event that your insurance company resolutely refuses to pay, consult a bad-faith insurance attorney to determine whether you have a claim. Each state has specific laws on the duty an insurer has to you. Make sure you take advantage of those legal protections.

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