Earthquakes result in millions of dollars in total losses each year in the U.S., disproportionately affecting states like Alaska and California, which are known to have high levels of seismic activity.
For home and property owners, the consequences of a high-magnitude earthquake can be devastating. Even milder earthquakes can still cause property damage and other losses more costly than the average person can cover without comprehensive insurance coverage.
The earthquake insurance lawyers of Florin|Roebig understand how essential it can be for property owners to be able to receive insurance coverage from their insurers in the wake of a serious natural disaster.
If you have earthquake insurance and are having trouble receiving the payment you’re entitled to under your policy, one of our lawyers can help you dispute your claim or investigate your insurer for wrongful denial or underpayment.
Understanding Earthquake Insurance Coverage
Standard homeowners, renters, and business insurance policies do not include coverage for damage caused by earthquakes. Earthquake insurance policies must be purchased separately by property owners to cover costs related to earthquake damage and relocation.
If you live in a state known to have high-magnitude earthquakes, having an action plan to insure your property can be critical.
States and territories that experience the most costly earthquakes include:
- Puerto Rico
According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners in western states are the most likely to have earthquake insurance, followed by homeowners in the Midwest. The way in which property owners can purchase earthquake insurance varies by state.
In California, for instance, homeowners can purchase earthquake insurance through private insurance, or seek coverage through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), a publicly managed organization that offers a range of earthquake insurance policies.
The types of coverage that earthquake insurance offers may vary according to where you live, your insurance carrier, and the specific terms and conditions detailed in your policy.
Types of losses that may be insured under earthquake insurance policies include:
- damage to floors and walls
- foundational building damage
- ceiling damage
- outdoor structures
- personal property (e.g. electronics, furniture, clothing)
- temporary relocation costs
Note that the amount of coverage earthquake insurance policies typically offer for personal property and additional living expenses tends to be lower than that offered in standard homeowner policies.
Some insurance companies may also enforce coverage limits, or offer very little in the way of insuring expensive personal belongings, such as fine china and heirlooms.
The types and amount of coverage your earthquake insurance policy offers will depend on the type of policy purchased. When deciding which type of policy you are going to purchase for your property, compare the types of coverage offered among different policies and insurance carriers.
Do I Need Earthquake Insurance?
Having earthquake insurance is most beneficial for individuals who live in high-risk states, although the cost of insurance in high-risk states is also likely to be higher. Living near or on a fault line is an example of a high-risk area—which is a criterion that most residents in states like California meet.
However, if your state rarely experiences earthquakes, it may not be necessary nor economical for you to purchase a separate earthquake insurance policy.
The cost of coverage is likely to be influenced by your location, the age and condition of your property, and other risk factors identified by your insurance carrier.
Understanding the types of natural disasters that commonly occur in your area can be important for homeowners who want to avoid facing significant financial losses in the aftermath of a serious event.
Examples of disasters that may require separate insurance policies or deductibles include:
Obligations Of Earthquake Insurance Companies
Insurance companies in the U.S. are largely regulated under state laws, which oversee how insurance adjusters manage claims and mandate the amount of time insurance companies have to pay their policyholders for covered losses.
If you’re a property owner who has met your financial obligations to your insurer, your insurance is obligated to hold up their end of the bargain.
This involves promptly reviewing submitted claims, paying out claims in a timely manner, or—in the event of denied coverage—providing a legitimate explanation for why they’ve denied your claim.
Property owners are not entitled to receive coverage for earthquake damage if they have not purchased an earthquake insurance policy that is separate from their homeowners, renters, or business insurance. Earthquake damage is not generally covered by standard homeowners insurance.
What If My Insurance Company Denies My Claim?
Insurance companies may deny claims submitted by policyholders for a variety of reasons—some of which may be legitimate, while others may not.
After denying coverage, insurance companies are obligated to provide an explanation for denied claims and review claims that are disputed by their policyholders.
Common reasons why insurance companies deny earthquake insurance claims include:
- lacking a separate earthquake insurance policy
- missing or late premium payments
- coverage limits have been met or exceeded
- the insured has not met their required deductible for earthquake insurance coverage
- lack of evidence to prove the earthquake damage
- insurance adjuster errors
If you’re unsatisfied with your claim amount or confused by your denial of coverage, you have a legal right to dispute your claim and can do so by contacting your insurance carrier.
Insurance companies have a responsibility to uphold their contracted responsibilities to you as a policyholder, which includes making claims decisions that are fair and prompt.
If you suspect your insurance company has wrongfully denied your earthquake insurance claim, it may be in your best interest to contact a lawyer who can investigate your claim for unlawful mishandling and breach of contract.
How Some Insurance Companies Can Mishandle Claims
Insurance companies are legally obligated in most states to review and fulfill claims within a certain timeframe. However, not every insurance adjuster who handles property damage claims will necessarily be making their coverage decisions in good faith.
Insurance companies that wrongfully deny insurance claims may be held legally accountable for their actions on the grounds of operating in bad faith and violating state regulations.
Unfairly denying earthquake insurance claims is just one example of how insurance companies can employ bad faith tactics. Insurance companies may also be held accountable for other examples of claims mismanagement—which may similarly be punishable by law.
Additional bad faith tactics that are prohibited in most states include:
- delaying payment
- delaying investigation of a claim
- undervaluing total property damage
- misrepresenting facts or coverage provisions
- ignoring submitted evidence of property damage
- false allegations of fraud
- providing low-balled offers for a claim payment
- failing to provide an explanation for a denied claim
- refusing to review a denied claim
- refusing to negotiate a fair settlement
If you suspect your insurance carrier has wrongfully denied or mishandled your earthquake insurance claim, you may benefit from the consultation of an experienced earthquake insurance claims lawyer.
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Top-Rated Earthquake Insurance Claims Lawyers
The insurance recovery lawyers of Florin|Roebig are committed to ensuring individuals who have suffered property loss are able to receive the compensation they’re entitled to under their insurance policies.
Earthquakes and other natural disasters can have costly implications for the average homeowner and their families. Living through an earthquake can be a traumatic experience, leaving individuals exhausted, stressed, and possibly in a state of grief.
At Florin|Roebig, our lawyers understand how critical it is to be able to receive the compensation you’re owed from your insurance company to begin the process of your financial recovery in the aftermath of a disaster.
If you’re having trouble receiving a fair insurance claim, our lawyers can help you by:
- explaining your legal rights to coverage based on the details of your policy
- investigating your claim for evidence of bad faith insurance tactics
- hiring experts to conduct an unbiased damage assessment
- providing an estimated settlement value
- communicating with your insurance company on your behalf
- providing assistance in disputing a claim or reporting your insurer to your state insurance commissioner for unlawful practices
- reaching a quick and fair settlement to help you recover your losses
If you’re feeling frustrated by the lack of communication coming from your insurance company after filing an earthquake damage claim, you’re not alone. Don’t wait to learn what our insurance recovery lawyers may be able to do for you.
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Find Help Disputing Your Earthquake Insurance Claim Today
At Florin|Roebig, our earthquake insurance claims lawyers can offer you an initial case evaluation to discuss the details of your case free of charge.
Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our top-rated lawyers to discover your eligibility for pursuing legal recourse.