Be an active participant during the inspection. Don’t leave it up to the adjuster to take notice of everything. Remember, the adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you. And your home is just one in a long list of homes they have to evaluate.
The first offer the insurance company makes will very likely seem unreasonably low considering your amount of damage.
Sometimes the offer is too low because there has been an error or something has not been calculated. Especially in the case of catastrophes like hurricanes when insurance companies are handling thousands of claims at one time, it’s very easy for something to be overlooked.
But it’s also possible that the insurance company is offering you a lowball number with the hope that you will assume it’s the best you will get.
You do not have to accept it.
If negotiating with the insurance company on your own is not getting you anywhere, you should talk to an attorney. In fact, if you think the insurance company is playing games, it would probably be best to talk to an attorney before you even waste your time trying to negotiate.
If your hurricane damage insurance claim is denied, you should speak to a lawyer. You can go back and forth with the insurance company on your own, but chances are they won’t budge much from their original stance.
Insurance companies often claim that your policy has exclusions or only covers damage in very specific circumstances. After Hurricane Laura, many insurance companies have claimed that loss of electricity/air conditioning does not make a home "uninhabitable" and therefore does not make homeowners eligible for extra living expenses.
Most of the time, people will take their word for it. After all, this is what they do for a living, so they must know what they are talking about, right? But assuming there is nothing you can do about it is a mistake that can cost you a lot of money.
Many people assume that because they have paid for coverage, their insurance company will come through for them in their time of need and that if the insurance company is saying they aren't covered, that must be the case. Sadly, it is often not until a lawyer gets involved that the insurance companies pay their clients what they are owed from their coverage.
Getting a lawyer does not guarantee that they will pay your claim. It is possible that your policy really did exclude the damage you are claiming. But having a lawyer look at your policy and fight with the insurance company on your behalf is likely your best chance for getting them to reconsider.
If your insurance company is responding to your claim in a timely manner and paying you a fair value for your damages, you can absolutely handle it with your insurance company directly.
However, it would be beneficial to have a lawyer if:
If any of these situations describe how your insurance company is responding, your insurance company could be acting in bad faith. Not could a lawyer potentially force the insurance company to pay you what you are rightfully owed as a policyholder, but your lawyer will argue that your insurance company acted in bad faith and has to pay penalties and attorneys fees. (In other words, your lawyer would argue that your insurance company owes you money on top of your coverage for not treating you fairly.)
Offering significantly less than the actual value of your damages.
Your insurance company is obligated to respond to your communications in a timely manner and to keep you informed about important updates with your claim.
If your insurance company denies your claim without a justifiable reason or for reasons that go against your policy, it may constitute bad faith.
If your insurance company alleges that your damages aren't covered because of made up or fictional exclusions or additions to your policy, it may be an act of bad faith on their part.
Your insurance company is obligated to schedule an inspection within a reasonable amount of time from your notice of a claim so that you can start the process of rebuilding.
If you believe the inspection was inaccurate or incomplete, you have the right to demand another inspection. On the other hand, if your insurance company demands multiple inspections by a variety of adjusters to delay or prolong the process, this may be considered an act of bad faith.
Your insurance company will require documentation of your damaged property, but if they are demanding excessive and irrelevant documents, it may be a stall tactic, which could constitute bad faith.
If your business insurance policy includes Business Interruption Coverage, you can make a claim for business losses related to Hurricane Laura.
In Louisiana, the most common events that can trigger your Business Interruption Coverage are:
Your Business Interruption coverage is meant to protect you in the event that an unforeseen catastrophe forces your business to close and causes you to lose business or income.
It depends on your specific policy, but typically, business interruption polices provide coverage for:
Most Business Interruption policies will exclude the following:
You will need your most recent profit and loss statements and employee information to start your claim.
The insurance company will likely ask for more documentation, like your previous years' tax documents, profit and loss statements and other documentation of lost income like future appointments, bookings, etc.
It is not uncommon for insurance companies to undervalue insurance claims or deny coverage altogether claiming policy exclusions.
If this happens to you, you have the right to fight back. Contact the attorneys at Blase Inzina Injury Attorneys to review your policy and claim at no cost.
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