27 May 2014

Homeowners’ Insurance Disputes: Why You May Need a Lawyer to Prevent Mayhem

Your home may be the biggest investment you ever make. You spend the time to maintain, improve, and add value to that investment, and you no doubt have homeowners’ insurance to protect it. Homeowners’ insurance policies are almost always required by mortgage lenders, even though you’d likely insure your home regardless given what’s at stake.
You count on your insurance company to be there in the event tragedy befalls your home, and with good reason. You pay hefty premiums for your insurer to step up to the plate and meet their obligations. We are told in countless advertisements that we’re in “good hands,” that our “dreams are protected” against “mayhem.”
Sadly, however, the challenges of recovering after a loss caused by fire, flooding, theft or other misfortunes are often compounded by the challenges of getting your insurance company to provide the assistance they’ve promised you. When an insurer denies your claim, nickel and dimes you on the amount you are entitled to, or unreasonably delays payment, you may be facing a battle that requires the help of an experienced insurance coverage lawyer to get you the assistance you’ve paid for.

Common Coverage Disputes

Homeowners’ insurance policies can be lengthy, complicated, and full of exclusions that insurers will try to manipulate to deny your claim or reduce the amount they must pay. Though disputes can arise for any number of reasons, some of the more common are:
1.         Whether Your Claim is Covered
Not all losses are covered by the typical homeowners’ insurance policy, and as such not all denials are without a basis. However, insurers will sometimes claim a loss isn’t covered when it actually is.  They will usually assert that a specific exclusion in the policy applies to your claim.
2.         Actual vs. Replacement Cost
Some insurance policies cover the replacement cost of an item, while others cover the actual cost.  Actual cost is almost always less, sometimes significantly so, than replacement cost. Think of the actual cost of your 10 year-old TV vs. how much it would cost to get a new one.
Your insurance company may tell you it will only pay the actual value of your loss. Sometimes the insurance company says this even though your policy entitles you to the replacement value. Other times, the insurance company may underestimate the actual value.
3.         Underinsurance
Every insurance policy has an upper limit on how much damage it will cover.  Insurance companies may deny claims that exceed that limit. Most people rely on their insurance agents as experts who are qualified to tell them how much homeowners’ insurance they need. When disaster strikes, it is upsetting to discover you lack the coverage to pay for your loss. Insurers have an incentive to set policy limits low. By undervaluing the cost of repair and replacement, insurance companies can charge lower premiums, thereby attracting more customers.
4.         Failure to Comply with Policy Requirements
Insurance policies are long, complicated documents, and insurers are aware that many homeowners either do not fully understand their policy or are afraid to challenge the insurance company. In some cases, insurers deny coverage by claiming that a homeowner failed to adhere to specific requirements in the contract.
5.         Fraudulent Claims
Your insurer might also claim that you filed your claim fraudulently. When you are dealing with the loss of your home or property, this is an unnecessary blow on top of a devastating situation. If your insurance company accuses you of fraud, it is imperative to speak to a knowledgeable attorney.

How an Experienced Arkansas Insurance Coverage Lawyer Can Help You

If your home has been damaged, it is important to consult with an experience insurance dispute attorney to protect your rights. Your lawyer can:

  • Read your insurance policy and explain what items and events are covered and excluded.
  • Investigate the cause of your damage and who is responsible. If a third party is to blame, you may be able to recover additional money that you would not be entitled to collect under your own insurance policy.
  • Help you with the insurance claims process.
  • Negotiate a settlement with your insurance company or with third parties.
  • Take your case to arbitration or litigation, if necessary.

A Trusted Ally in Your Corner

When life throws curveballs, insurance can be a tremendous asset. The Central U.S. faces violent storms and flash floods. Property owners purchase insurance to protect themselves and their property against acts of nature of other disasters. When insurance companies deny coverage or underpay a claim, policy holders are left to pick up the pieces and the bill. The attorneys at Kendall Law Firm believe that our clients deserve respect and fair treatment. If you have been denied coverage or paid less than you need, call us today at (479) 464-9828 to speak to an insurance litigation attorney ready to fight for you.

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