Melbourne Insurance Claims Lawyers
If you own a home or business property you undoubtedly purchased insurance to protect your financial investment from losses due to theft, natural disasters, and a variety of other potential losses. You paid your premiums as required with the expectation that a claim would be paid in full should the need arise to file one. As you may have discovered, that does not always happen. In fact, it is all too common for a policyholder to have problems getting an insurance claim paid in a reasonable amount of time.
Fortunately, we can help if you are having trouble with an insurance claim. The experienced Melbourne insurance claim lawyers at Layman Law Firm, P.L. are familiar with the tactics insurance companies use to try and avoid paying claims in full and without delay. We will advocate—and litigate when necessary — on your behalf with the insurance company to ensure that you are fully compensated for your losses.
Why Might I Need to File an Insurance Claim?
Your home or property could suffer damage or loss for an almost infinite number of reasons, not all of which are covered by a basic insurance policy. There are, however, several common reasons why you might need to file an insurance claim that you likely would expect to be covered under your insurance policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute (iii), the most common homeowner’s insurance claims include losses for:
- Wind and hail
- Water damage and freezing
- Fire and lightning
- All other property damages
Steps to Take When Filing an Insurance Claim
If your home or property has been damaged, or you have suffered another type of loss that you believe is covered by your insurance policy, there are some steps you should take to increase the likelihood of your claim being paid in a timely manner and in full, such as:
- Document the damage or loss. Before taking steps to re-enter or secure the property, document the damage or loss. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the property and the surrounding area. If the interior was damaged, or personal property destroyed, take pictures of that when you can safely re-enter.
- Do not make the situation worse. Depending on the type and severity of the damage, you may need to contact the police and/or other authorities (electric, water, fire department) and wait for them to tell you it is safe to re-enter the property. Only then should you do what you can to prevent additional damage by doing things such as turning off the electric and/or water supply to the property, putting temporary covers over leaks or holes, and cleaning up water or debris.
- Contact your insurance company to file a claim. Make a formal claim with your insurance company as soon as possible. They may send out an adjuster to see the damage in person, or they may ask you to submit photographs of the damage.
- Gather evidence supporting your claim. The value of an insurance claim often becomes a contested issue after a claim is filed. With that in mind, start documenting the value of your claim by putting together receipts and other documents showing what you paid for damaged items. It is also wise to get your own independent estimates for the cost to repair or replace damaged property.
- Consult with an insurance claim lawyer. While some insurance claims are paid in full and in short order, many are not. The moment you start to think you may have a problem getting your claim paid in full, you should consult with an insurance claim lawyer. The earlier you bring an experienced attorney on board the sooner your claim can be resolved.
What Problems Might I Face Getting My Claim Paid?
When you purchased your insurance policy you probably did not read through the entire policy. Instead, you trusted that the policy covered what you needed it to cover and that you would be quickly reimbursed for any losses you suffered. What you may not have considered is that like any business, your insurance company needs to make a profit to stay in business. That means they have a vested interest in not paying a claim and/or paying as little as possible when a claim is approved. To limit what they pay out in claims, insurance companies will use some popular tactics, including:
- Inundating you with requests for forms and documents. A common way to delay, if not completely avoid, paying an insurance claim is to require the claimant to submit a seemingly endless number of supporting documents and forms. Failing to submit a single one of these documents is used as a reason not to pay the claim.
- Claiming that an exclusion applies. This is common in Florida when wind or water caused the damage. Water damage may be excluded if you did not have separate flood insurance. Hurricane damage caused by wind or water may be excluded, or a higher deductible may apply. Insurance companies, however, will often falsely claim that covered damage falls under an exclusion.
- Underestimating the cost of repairs/replacement. Not surprisingly, insurance adjusters are notorious for providing estimates that grossly underestimate what it will cost to repair or replace damaged/destroyed property. Therefore, you should always get at least two independent estimates yourself.
- Misclassification of damages or losses. An insurance company may classify damages under a category that allows them to exclude the damages or that justifies paying out less on the claim. For example, while flood water damage may legitimately be excluded from a homeowner’s insurance policy, mold resulting from floodwater likely is covered.
- Claiming you failed to mitigate damages. Your insurance policy probably has a provision in it that requires you to take reasonable steps to mitigate damages following a loss. In other words, do what you can to prevent the situation from getting worse. This does not require you to take risks or extraordinary steps to prevent additional damage. Your insurance company, however, may claim that you failed to adequately mitigate damages.
Contact the Experienced Melbourne Insurance Claim Lawyers at Layman Law Firm, P.L.
If your Melbourne home or property was damaged or destroyed, and you are having problems getting your insurance claim paid, contact the experienced Melbourne insurance claim lawyers at Layman Law Firm, P.L. to discuss your legal options. We are committed to making sure that policyholders who submit a valid claim to their insurance company are paid in full and without unreasonable delay. Contact the team today for your free initial consultation by calling 321-773-2111 or by filling out our convenient Intake Evaluation Form online.