Most people have insurance policies to protect themselves should something go wrong, then when something does, they’re afraid to use it!
That sounds crazy at first. You have insurance. Something went wrong. Why not use it?
The fear is that by making a claim, rates will go up or you will be cancelled. That is possible if you make a high-risk claim (e.g. dog bite) or if you have too many claims for incidents that are within your control (e.g. bathtub overflowing), but not for naturally occurring incidents like a roof insurance claim. For more info, check out our blog What Causes Insurance Premiums to go Up?
“Acts of God” are claims that are a result of a wind storm, hurricane, hail damage, or tornado and are beyond your control. Therefore, you are not punished for making a claim due to their damage.
We are pleased to assist clients with select services on a contingent fee basis, meaning that if the firm does not obtain a recovery, or if the amount recovered does not exceed the amount of costs and expenses, then the firm is not entitled to any fees.
Homeowner’s insurance is for significant events like a fire, hail or wind storm, or a fallen tree on your home – not for minor expenses like the theft of a bicycle or a single broken window. So, while a claim may be valid, it may not always be wise to file it.
Take a look at your policy. Most contain a 1% or 2% deductible. The amount of the claim needs to be considerably more than the deductible to make it worth making the claim.
Start by looking around your home – do you see:
If you don’t see much damage, aren’t sure what you’re looking for, or don’t want to get on your roof, have a good roofing contractor perform a free inspection. You can also hire an Independent Insurance Adjuster (not a Public Adjuster – See Mistake #4).
If you’re receiving multiple solicitations from roofers and/or your neighbors are getting roofs put on, chances are you have enough damage to go ahead and a claim.
Large-scale storms with wide-spread damage attract contractors who know that reputable businesses are overwhelmed. That’s when these vultures show up at your door making promises and telling lies.
Storm chasers do what their name describes – they chase storms around hawking their roofing services. While some companies are legitimate and may do great work, how responsive will out-of-town roofers be if you have a problem later? Look for a local phone number and address on business cards, truck signs, and on their website.
Many of these storm chasers are unscrupulous. Preying on the elderly or uninformed with aggressive sales tactics and inflated charges. Some ask for cash up front and disappear, while others create fake damage in hopes of getting insurance to approve. Stay away from these companies!
Make sure to check out any contractor before signing an agreement. Check the Better Business Bureau for complaints. Ask for recommendations on neighborhood chat rooms or through social networking. Check references. Look at consumer reviews on Google and Yelp.
Failing to pay your deductible is probably the most common mistake homeowners make – often without knowing the consequences.
Storm chasers and shady roofers promise to put on your roof for whatever insurance pays. While the thought of a “free roof” sounds great, failing to pay the deductible is illegal and going along with this scheme means you may be committing insurance fraud.
Disreputable roofers will tell you they can get around this requirement by paying you an “advertising fee” for putting a sign in your yard. Or they will conveniently forget to collect the final payment at the end of the job.
Insurance fraud costs consumers and average of almost $700 per family in additional premiums per year. But more importantly, insurance fraud carries a penalty up to $10,000 and up to 2 years in state prison, depending on the dollar value of the fraudulent claim. See Tex. Penal Code § 35.02(a).
The average homeowner only makes one claim per decade, so being unfamiliar with the process is normal. So, with such an important decision on the line, it can be tempting to let a public adjuster file a claim on your behalf.
Public Adjusters are specially trained and can submit comprehensive information to support your claim as well as will follow up until a decision is made. But public adjusters have no special ability to expedite a decision and can’t do much to improve the odds of an approval.
If the claim is approved, you’ll owe the public adjuster about 10% of the proceeds. If denied, you still owe the public adjuster even though they couldn’t get the claim paid! They can’t provide legal advice on how to proceed; all they can do is refer you to an attorney.
Homeowner’s Insurance is a $95-billion-dollar business, with less than half of that being paid out annually to cover losses. With so much money at stake, many insurance companies routinely deny or underpay claims that should otherwise be paid.
Why? Simply put – GREED.
Insurers know that only about 20% of denied claims will be challenged. Even if they eventually pay most disputed claims – plus extra attorney’s fees, they still come out millions of dollars ahead. So, despite all the rhetoric about “being in good hands,” insurance is big business, and they’re out to win – at your expense.
Sometimes a denial or underpayment isn’t intentional, and it certainly isn’t final. You pay your premiums, and if you have a legitimate claim, you deserve to be paid!
If you receive a denial in writing, start asking questions. Perhaps a mistake was made during the process. The denial could have been made for the wrong reason, or because of inaccurate information, so be persistent.
We hope you’ve found this guide to be beneficial. For more information on how to file an insurance claim, check out our blog “You’ve Experienced a Loss, Now What?” Additional helpful resources are found on our website and blog.
If you have questions, schedule an appointment with Ron Glaser, our insurance claims specialist, or call him at 877-408-3328.
In the event a client should choose bankruptcy and seek our help to file under the United States Bankruptcy Code, The Lane Law Firm would be considered a debt relief firm. We are not licensed by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Use of this website does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. None of this content may be used without express written consent. Images are not intended to portray actual clients; they are for navigational purposes only. Principal Office Houston, Texas