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Prevent Your Homeowner Claim From Getting Denied

posted Feb 27, 2014, 12:04 PM by Dottrio LLC   [ updated Mar 26, 2014, 9:50 AM ]
There are times when it may seem that your homeowners insurance company is not handling your claim properly. You may think that your claims adjuster is investigating your claim in a biased manner. It may appear that your insurance company made their decision about your claim before your home was ever even inspected. Well, the sad truth is that you might be right.
Insurance companies are businesses. They are in business to make money and increase profits. Paying claims does not help with increasing profits. If paying claims threatens an insurance company's business viability, they may start handling claims with bias.

Some homeowners have had terrible experiences with their legitimate homeowners claim. They are treated rudely from the very beginning of the claims process, as soon as they submit their claim. They may be made to feel as if they are somehow doing something wrong. The tone of the insurance claims receptionist can be far from polite, to say the least.

And then the adjuster calls you and asks you several questions, giving little or no response to your answers. His questions may seem to be leading or insinuating. He may try to verbally bully you and you may feel as if you are being interrogated.

Next, the adjuster inspects for the damages. But, first, an appointment for the inspection must be set. Sometimes, the adjuster will go out of his way to "fake you out" about the time frame of the inspection. He may tell you one time while planning to be there earlier. Or he may try to schedule an appointment with you for the same day that he first contacts you, claiming that he can't do it any other time or stressing how "busy" he is.

This is all an effort to inspect for the damages while no one is present, or catching you, the homeowner, off guard. The inspection itself may seem like little more than a dog and pony show with the adjuster obviously simply going through the motions and performing a less than thorough inspection.

During the inspection, the adjuster, who once was so inquisitive about your claim over the phone, suddenly doesn't have any questions for you. He wants to know as little as possible about your damage situation and if he asks you questions, it may only be in an attempt to steer the focus from what actually matters bout your claim.

Questions like, "Why didn't you report this claim sooner?" or "What is this OTHER damage from?" are among some of the common questions you might hear from an adjuster during a biased inspection. The only two things that truly matter about your homeowner claim is (1) if you have damage and (2) if that damaged is covered. Damage unrelated to your claim that you did not submit a claim for and the exact nature of your submitting of the claim are merely distractions.

Another strategy that insurance companies use is dragging the claims process out. They may voluntarily send several different inspectors before rendering a decision. This way, they can claim that they thoroughly inspected it and they can try to sell you on the idea that their decision is final. They try to ware you down over time with hopes that you will get so frustrated that you will simply give up.

Their final decision will either be a complete denial or something similar and though the insurance company may never have overtly broken the law, it would seem that the final decision regarding your claim was an inevitability, a foregone conclusion. And when this is the case, it is not fair, not right and, if nothing else, unethical.

As the homeowner, you are left with un-repaired damage and with what may seem like limited options at your disposal. In actuality, however, you can take your claim to the highest levels of the court systems. You can submit for re-inspections to your insurance company and make sure that you tell them that you do not pan on going away until you are satisfied that your claim has been handled and decided properly and fairly.

If your insurance company refuses to honer any more re-inspection requests, you can take your claim to appraisal. There may be a small upfront fee for this, but appraisal is a state mandated process where an agreement must be reached and is basically final.

Writing a letter to your insurance company can be powerful as well. You may not think that they will take your letter seriously, but a letter is a physical, verifiable piece of evidence. Send it certified and state your case concisely. Make sure you focus your letter on what transpired in your claim (a documentation of how things occurred), and the damage that your house has suffered.

Don't reference your neighbor's claims or other unrelated items. Also, don't concentrate much on the fact that you think you were treated rudely. Again, make your argument about the damage. The damage and whatever storm or other sudden event that caused it is what our claim decision should be based on.

Because of potential negative homeowner claims situations, it is recommended that you use an experienced insurance restoration contractor. You may want to contact such a contractor before you submit your claim. This way, you can get educated about your situation and your damage and what it will take to repair the damage.

Plus, your restoration specialist can meet with your claims adjuster and provide an appropriate estimate for the repairs. Having a knowledgeable contractor on your side can make a huge difference in your final claim outcome. An insurance company may try to dupe you but probably not you and a qualified contractor that is familiar with the claims process.

By: Joseph Dylan
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