Unfortunately, there are times when a homeowner will submit a claim for legitimate and covered damages and their insurance company will deny the claim unjustifiably. When this happens, the homeowner must be persistent to ensure that they receive a fair claim settlement.
Most consumers assume that their first decision about their claim is final. But, it is only final if you accept it. If your homeowners insurance company denies your claim or only allows for a disproportionately small settlement, you do not have to accept this outcome.
The first thing you should do is submit for a re-inspection. During a re-inspection, your insurance company will take another look at your property damage situation. A re-inspection will often be performed by a different person than that who performed the original inspection. Hopefully, the re-inspector will render a more fair decision.
But, even if your insurance company refuses to handle your claim appropriately after a re-inspection, you can proceed further by taking your claim to the next level. This next level is often called "appraisal" or "arbitration." The procedure may be slightly different depending on the state from which the claim originates, but the goal is to reach a final and fair outcome.
The appraisal procedure often will involve several third party officials, one to represent each side and another to be the "umpire." The decision rendered from this procedure is generally considered final, but there still may be other avenues worth your exploration such as hiring a lawyer.
One important thing to remember is that your insurance company spends more money the longer your claim drags on. If they know that they owe you more than they initially allowed for, they are likely to be much more fair the second time around. After all, if they know that they are on the hook for the claim, they don't want to spend a lot of money trying to be unfair and then also pay for the claim. That would be like paying for a claim twice.
Still, if the insurance company believes that their claim decision is fair and consistent with policy, they may be willing to spend as much money as necessary to defend this decision. So, the most important question to ask yourself is, "Should my claim be covered?" If it should be covered and yet it is not being covered or not being covered enough, you should proceed. If not, don't.
Of course, these types of questions should be answered before you ever file for a claim. Because of this, you may want to consult with an experienced insurance restoration contractor before doing so. A contractor that specializes in your damage recovery will likely be able to make better sense out of your situation and help you throughout the entire claims process.