Thousands if not millions of insurance claims are going to be filed on the heels of Hurricane Sandy. People returning to their homes will be confronted with huge amounts of damage, and these people will no doubt be hoping to obtain the necessary funds that they are entitled to as insurance holders. But as we in the legal community know, it can sometimes be extraordinarily difficult to gain proper compensation without the aid of an attorney.
Consumer Reports discusses this notion in detail, and backs their report up with evidence from a 2011 survey where they talked to 11,250 people who had filed some sort of home insurance claim in the previous couple years. They discovered that almost 10% of insured persons disagreed with the payment provided, but that number increased dramatically to 19% when claims were above $25,000.
How can you protect yourself when insurance companies attempt to do everything that they can to not pay the necessary claim amount? Documentation is the first step. The moment you enter your home, you should begin collecting photographic evidence of all the damage that your residence has sustained because of the disaster. With photos of all that has transpired, no one will be able to dispute what happened to your home.
If there’s a chance that not repairing something immediately would lead your house to experience even more damage, then conduct those repairs right away. However, be certain that you get detailed receipts of all the money you have had to pay out in order to fix things. Insurers should pay you back for these amounts, and having a receipt that shows exactly what you had to take care of helps settle any potential future conflicts.
When it comes time to talk to an insurance agent, be sure to mark down the details of the conversation. Keep track of what they have told you, when it happened, and what’s being offered. And when you file a claim form or submit any other documents, make copies for yourself.
With all of this documentation in hand, you protect yourself should an insurer not agree to pay out all that you deserve. If a dispute arises, you’ll have done yourself a favor when your attorney presses the point with the insurance company. We advise that everyone consult a lawyer prior to accepting any form of payment or signing anything. A qualified legal representative can offer you invaluable advice and make sure that everything is on the level. And when an insurance company refuses your claim, an attorney can collect the evidence you’ve already accumulated and use it to demonstrate the losses you’ve incurred.
You protected yourself by getting home insurance, so protect yourself just a little bit more moving forward.