Suffering a catastrophe that damages your home or business is emotionally taxing. To protect yourself from such an event, you likely carry homeowners or property insurance coverage. Your insurance is in place to help cover some of the damages caused by the unfortunate event.
Filing an insurance claim for property damage to your business or home can be a frustrating and drawn-out process. Hiring an experienced attorney from a reputable law firm can make it easier for you to manage this process and collect the benefits you’re owed for damages.
Due to the complexities of the process, as well as the possibility of insurance companies either denying coverage or underpaying a claim, it helps to understand property loss/damage claims and get some advice on what you can do to recover what you lost.
Defining Property Loss/Damage Claims
Property loss or damage claims refer to claims you file with your insurance company asking for compensation to cover any losses or damages to your property. These claims differ from personal injury claims in that they only cover losses that are considered personal property. If property damage as well as personal injury results from an incident, you will have to file separate claims for each issue.
Your homeowners property insurance is likely to cover or insure items or property that have been damaged or destroyed. In essence, a property damage claim comes down to the cost of repairs, the loss of use, sentimental value, and the overall replacement value of the damaged property.
If your home or business were to experience an accident or natural disaster, then one of the first steps you would take is filing a property damage claim with your insurance company. It’s always a good idea to examine your insurance policy to determine how damages are covered, especially any potential damages that pose a risk to your property.
To better understand property damage claims, it’s best for policyholders to take a closer look at property damage insurance and learn general information about how it works.
Understanding Property Damage Insurance
It’s estimated that over 80 percent of Americans have homeowners insurance.
Although policies and coverage vary, homeowners insurance plans are likely to respond to claims that involve:
- damage to the home, roof, or garage, including outbuildings
- loss of personal property or belongings as a result of damage or theft
- additional living expenses, if the damage makes your home unfit to live in
Homeowners insurance may also cover injuries or property damage to others because of personal negligence, accidents that happened around the home, and damages to personal belongings or property that are kept in storage.
General Liability Insurance
If you’re a business owner or homeowner, you may opt for general liability insurance. This is also known as casualty insurance and protects your business and property from third-party claims against you.
General liability insurance may protect you against claims on your property that include:
- slips and falls
- commercial vehicle crashes
- watercraft accidents
- aircraft accidents
Things that increase your liability risk at home include owning a trampoline, swimming pool, or aggressive pets.
What Kind Of Property Damage Isn’t Covered By Your Insurance?
Although homeowners insurance is put in place to cover varying emergencies or disasters, there are some exceptions. For example, earthquake and flood damage are not covered in standard home insurance policies.
You’ll have to purchase a separate policy, or pay for additional coverage, if you live in flood- or earthquake-prone areas. You should also be aware that damage from termites or other pests are sometimes excluded by property insurance policies.
Types Of Property Damage Covered By Your Insurance
Although policies vary, many property and homeowners insurance plans cover certain damages and equipment. Florin|Roebig attorneys have experience in handling a variety of property damage claims and have seen firsthand how insurance companies will undervalue or deny valid claims.
However, you may be entitled to a property damage claim if you experience:
Water Or Freezing Damage
Many home insurance policies cover the damage from a pipe burst or another water-related event. Freezing damage can also occur during the winter months in many parts of the United States. Water damage can be detrimental to your property, so it’s in your best interest to routinely check your pipes to prevent any leakage.
Mold damage can be catastrophic and is a major cause for concern for both business owners and homeowners. Mold can be toxic, damage property, and lead to serious health risks. Insurance companies may dispute mold damage claims, so be aware of potential mold problems in your household or building.
Wind And Hail Damage
Wind and hail damage claims are common. Because these damages result from forces of nature, they’re likely covered by your insurance plan. Wind and hail damage is typically covered when it’s caused by a hurricane, hail storm, tornado, or other storms.
Fire And Smoke Damage
Fire or smoke damage is not as common as wind and hail damage, but if you purchased a comprehensive insurance policy, these damages are likely to be covered. From grease fires in the kitchen to lingering smoke damage to the structure, you’ll want to make sure your policy covers these damages.
Burglary, Theft, Or Vandalism
Outside of natural disasters or general property damage, you’ll also be entitled to a property loss claim if you’ve been the victim of burglary, theft, or vandalism.
Depending on your policy, property that may be covered includes:
- office equipment
- other personal belongings
How To Prepare For Filing A Property Damage Claim
Filing an insurance claim is much easier if you make a list of your belongings. After a traumatic event like a fire or natural disaster, it can be hard to remember all of your possessions. This can also help you settle the claim faster, verify your losses, and help your attorney assess damages or losses if you pursue legal recourse.
To help you prepare for the worst, here are some tips for how you can create a home inventory:
- keep a list of recent purchases
- include basic information, like make or model
- count clothing by jeans, shirts, shoes, etc.
- write down serial numbers
- consider if you need separate coverage for high-end belongings like jewelry
- keep track of items in a storage unit
- save receipts and other proof of value
- take pictures or videos
- create digital files
- keep adding to your list, but don’t feel overwhelmed
Why Your Property Loss Or Damage Claim Was Denied
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They will likely do everything they can to avoid paying out claims. Some policies are written in ways that justify undervaluing your claim, especially when it involves property damage.
Cases involving property damage to homes can be especially tricky. For example, your home may have been damaged by hail or a windstorm, but the insurance company may dispute the claim and say the damage was caused by wear and tear or failure to maintain.
Do You Need An Attorney To Dispute A Property Damage Claim?
If you’ve filed a property damage or loss claim with your insurance company, but are struggling with the process, you may want to hire an attorney. This is especially true if your insurance company is disputing your claim.
An attorney can help you handle the dispute to make sure you receive appropriate compensation for the damaged property.
As you consider your options for legal assistance, take a look at a few of the common disputes leveraged by insurance companies:
Your insurance company may dispute your claim in regards to coverage. This may involve disputing the entire claim For example, you may say water damage was caused by a burst pipe, but the insurance company may argue that it was the result of a flood (which wouldn’t be covered unless you have flood insurance).
It’s not uncommon for you and your insurance adjuster to disagree on damages. Assessing damages of any type is a complicated process, and there may also be questions of whether the property can even be repaired.
Bad Faith Claims Handling
Although insurance companies should be law-abiding, you may find yourself with an insurance carrier that’s unscrupulous or negligent in the claims handling process. Bad faith refers to when your insurance company commits wrongdoing or fails to adhere to proper insurance adjusting principles such as dismissing a valid proof of loss when you supply ample information.
This is known as bad faith because the insurance company rejected your claim when you were entitled to compensation. Other examples include, refusing to honor the terms of your policy, making an undervalued offer, or denying coverage without a legitimate reason. Many states have strict guidelines to protect consumers from bad faith practices.
How An Attorney Can Help With Your Property Damage Claim
There can be a significant amount of money on the line with property damage claims. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average property damage claim ranges from $10,000 to $12,000. It can help to hire an attorney who will make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
While some insurance companies will satisfy their policy agreements with homeowners or business owners, there are several things that can go wrong once you file a claim.
An attorney can make this process easier, give you peace of mind, and ensure you receive compensation for your loss. Attorneys typically begin with a free consultation to ensure you have a strong case. From there they will work through the details and documentation of your claim, helping you build your case to have the greatest chance of success.
If you hire an attorney, they can likely help you with:
Moving The Process Along
Filing an insurance claim can be a lengthy process. It’s not unheard of for some insurance companies to routinely delay the process until you’re so frustrated you’ll accept a settlement that’s far lower than the damages you suffered.
An attorney can help speed up this process by using countermeasures or other tactics that can thrust your insurance company into action. A simple threat of litigation is often enough.
Even if you’ve already filed a claim, a comprehensive damage assessment can help you determine how much your case is worth. If you have yet to file a claim, your attorney can help you understand your legal options for pursuing the maximum amount of damages. Having an attorney at your side can put your mind at ease while they determine the specific details.
If you believe you’ve been denied for an unfair reason, your attorney can step in and make sure there wasn’t any wrongdoing in regards to the denial. If there was wrongdoing, your attorney can appeal the denial, or go as far as threatening a lawsuit if your claim was denied in bad faith.
Perhaps the most important way an attorney can help you with your case is by negotiating a fair settlement. Since insurance companies need to make money, they may offer low settlements that won’t do much for repairing the damages.
Your attorney, who is likely an expert in negotiations, can deal with the insurance company and use the details of your case to procure a fair settlement.
Florin|Roebig Can Help You File A Property Damage Insurance Claim
At Florin|Roebig, we specialize in civil law and can help you recover compensation for your property damage or loss. Our team works alongside qualified experts, like structural engineers, general contractors, and meteorologists who can assist with evaluating your property and the extent of the damages.
Our team of accomplished property loss and damage claims attorneys includes:
- Wil H. Florin, B.C.S.
- Tommy D. Roebig. B.C.S.
- Chase P. Florin B.C.S.
- Neil P. O’Brien, M.B.A.
- Luca G. Esposito
- Kavon P. Smith
If your property suffered from a natural disaster, accident, or theft, don’t hesitate to file a claim. To help you make sense of the matter, our attorneys are well-versed in damage claims and will work for you to ensure you’re adequately compensated.
If you need to file or claim or need help handling a dispute, we offer a free case evaluation. We’ll discuss the details of your case and suggest how you can best proceed. Contact the law offices of Florin|Roebig today to learn more about your legal options.