A major home insurance claim can quickly become one of the most important financial events in your life. When the structure of your home has been damaged by a severe event such as a fire or flood, when you can’t remain in your home while repairs are made, and when you’ve lost extensive personal belongings, you depend on your home insurance policy to help you rebuild and recover without depleting your savings or going into debt.
Should You Hire an Insurance Lawyer?
Some of the most common problems with house insurance claims can have major consequences for your financial situation after a loss. An insurance lawyer can help resolve many of these common issues. Whether or not you should consider hiring one depends on several factors, such as:
- The value of the claim. Smaller claims may not be worth it, but legal assistance can be significant for major claims.
- The complexity of the claim. If a third party is involved, the process can become much more complicated.
- Problems with the insurance claims adjuster. There are cases where the insurance claims adjuster starts to disagree with the homeowner early or often, which can be a sign of an uphill battle.
Common Problems with Insurance Claims
An insurance lawyer can often help smooth over some of the most common problems that arise during a home insurance claim.
Frequent and positive communications with the insurance company and the insurance adjuster are key to a quick and painless insurance claim. If you find yourself waiting extended periods of time without hearing anything from the insurer or without any action being taken, it may be an early warning sign.
There are certain things you will want the insurance company to handle quickly, such as securing the property to prevent further loss or vandalism, or providing a cash advance so that you can pay for immediate expenses until your claim is sorted out.
#2 Depreciation on Personal Belongings
Once you start to see dollar amounts from the insurance company, things can start to look concerning. The insurance adjuster will evaluate your lost belongings based on the type of coverage you have. Under some types of coverage (Actual Cash Value), you’re only paid out based on the depreciated value of your assets.
That can quickly lead to disagreements. How depreciation is calculated is not always straightforward. There are also assets that depreciate rapidly, such as electronics or clothes, while others may appreciate over time. An insurance lawyer can assist with negotiating a settlement that uses a much lower rate of depreciation.
#3 Disagreements Over Structural Damage
There can also be disagreements about the scope of the repairs that need to be made. There is no industry standard for how an insurance adjuster puts together a list of necessary repairs. This can result in a list that the homeowner feels is incomplete. If those repairs are not included in the estimate from the insurance company, they will wind up having to pay for it themselves.
An insurance lawyer understands how to negotiate with insurance adjusters and insurance companies so that they live up to the expectations set out in the insurance policy.
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