The only thing worse than dealing with a natural disaster or other event that seriously damages your home, is dealing with an uncooperative insurance company. Unfortunately, there are many insurance companies that will try to low-ball you into accepting less money than you deserve.
Instead of falling prey to this tactic, you need to take the time to familiarize yourself with both the value of your home and the cost of the necessary replacement materials. Once you have armed yourself with this important knowledge, it will be easier to receive a fair settlement.
Why did My Insurance Company Low-Ball Me?
Although a lot of people think of their insurance company as a group that works for them, the truth is that the entire insurance industry exists with only one goal in mind: making money. Most property insurance lawyers will tell you that it is quite common for an insurance claims adjuster to look for the least expensive way to settle a claim. If you are not up-to-date on the actual value of your home, this can cause you to agree to a settlement amount that is way too low.
In fact, many insurance companies will even attempt to rush their customers into signing for a check before they learn that they are being low-balling. This behaviour is definitely despicable, and it is indicative of a company that is willing to take advantage of a bad situation. After all, you might feel like you have no other choice if your home is currently unlivable and you cannot begin receiving any financial assistance from your insurance company until you agree to their settlement offer.
Countering their Offer
If you know that the settlement offer is really low, you should contact your insurance agent with a counter proposal. Instead of simply telling them that they need to offer you more money, though, you should provide them with evidence that they have low-balled you. For example, if you it will cost $10,000 to repair the damage and they have only offered you $5,000, you can provide them with estimates from multiple construction companies.
You can also provide them with information that proves how much all of your local hardware stores are charging for the necessary materials. Once they see that you know they are low-balling you, they might revise their offer to avoid dealing with a lawsuit.
Hiring an Attorney
In some instances, an unscrupulous insurance company will refuse to revise their settlement offer even after you prove that they have low-balled you. If this happens, you need to hire an attorney who has experience dealing with insurance settlements. Your lawyer’s first step will probably be to send a certified letter to your insurance agent that informs them that you will not be accepting their offer and advises them to make a new offer. If this does not work, though, you might have to file a lawsuit to get a fair settlement.
Although no one likes to end up in a courtroom, it is important to stand up for yourself. After all, you pay a lot for your homeowners insurance each month, and it is important for you to be able to rely on it if something damages your home. As long as you have a skilled attorney and proof of the actual repair cost, it should be relatively easy to get a satisfactory judgement.
Guest Author: Shelby Warden is a legal researcher who had to fight her insurance company to recover the money she was owed under her policy for hurricane damages to her home. The skilled property insurance lawyers at Doyle Raizner will vigorously challenge insurance companies who focus on their own profits and deny your claim, delay your payment or refuse to pay the money you are owed.