You’ve just filed a claim with your insurance company in the wake of a loss. Your home has been significantly damaged, and the costs will be extensive. It can feel like a lot of pressure coming at a time when you’re already raw and vulnerable. You want to do everything you can to make sure your settlement covers all the costs, but it can all be overwhelming.
It can be a huge weight off your shoulders to get help moving forward with your claim. While an insurance adjuster will be assigned to help you work through your claim, keep in mind that at the end of the day, they’re paid by the insurer and they keep the interests of the insurer in mind. You can hire a public insurance adjuster or an insurance lawyer who will keep your interests in mind and help you negotiate with the other side and assist with the entire claims process.
There are a lot of concerns homeowners have when they file a major claim. Here are some of the things that an insurance lawyer or independent insurance adjuster can help you with.
As one of, if not the largest portion of your claim, Structure/Dwelling coverage is a common source of disputes between policyholders and insurers.
Delays in the process can be agonizing for homeowners. If the adjuster isn’t communicating with you or appears to be delaying the process, it may be fair to contact your own professional advocate.
Another common source of contention is the Scope of Work. The insurer creates a Scope of Work that details all of the repairs that need to be done. Then, they have their preferred contractors bid on the project. They take the lowest bid and will pay out that amount if you want to go with your own contractor. In that scenario, the settlement may be too small, and you’ll have to pay out of pocket. If you or your advocate understand construction costs, you’ll be in a better position to contest an undersized estimate.
There are a lot of emotions that come up when it comes to replacing personal belongings. One dispute that often comes up is restoring vs. replacing lost contents. An insurer may want to try to restore smoke-damaged belongings when it makes more sense to replace them.
The longer you wait before beginning restoration, the more restoration will cost, and the less likely it is to be successful. Acidic soot discolors and stains all kinds of materials, and gives it an odor that can be harmful if not fully removed. Try to talk to your insurer about replacing soot-damaged belongings instead of attempting to restore them. This is especially important if it’s not likely to work or won’t put the item to its pre-loss state since the insurer will deduct restoration costs from your settlement, potentially limiting your ability to replace the item later.
The other disagreement that can arise with contents is how much the insurer depreciates your belongings. Not everything depreciates at the same rate and you may have to push back to make sure they’re fairly valued.
Additional Living Expenses
ALE coverage is usually less contentious. The main concern homeowners often have in this area of coverage is paying out of pocket. You still have to keep up with the costs of homeownership, such as mortgage payments and property taxes, so it can feel expensive when you’re also paying for a hotel or a short-term rental. You can request an advance on your settlement to help pay for these costs.
If you have concerns about the progress of your insurance claim, consider getting help from a professional like an insurance lawyer.