Homeowners Insurance is a necessity if you want to own a home. But when it’s time to call upon it, it’s a migraine headache. Everyday, homeowners file claims to their insurance companies, hoping that the premiums they’ve been paying will afford them the coverage they need. All too often, insurance companies employ bad faith insurance claim settlement tactics that will withhold or greatly reduce payments to policy holders. It seems that insurance companies are not hoping to help people as much as they are hoping to make a buck.
And it’s a shame that most will not find out about this until tragedy befalls their home, and it’s time to file that claim. Below are nine secrets of homeowner’s insurance companies that will help if you ever have to call upon yours. In some of these instances, an insurance claims attorney will be necessary to make sure you are not being “ripped off” by your insurance company, and that you are indeed being compensated appropriately.
1. A claim for a total loss can cost less than rebuilding a damaged house. Just like a car, why pay more to fix it when you could pay less to get it new?
2. If you have a mortgage, checks will be made out to both you and your mortgage bank. You’ll have to endorse the check and hand it over to your lien holder. The money sits in escrow (money limbo), until repairs are made. Typically, they’ll release the money to you in installments over the course of reconstruction. It’s a way for mortgage companies to protect their investments. You’ll have to front the money for repairs, and then be reimbursed.
3. Don’t sign a release on your home insurance claim. Insurance companies will try to have you have sign a release as quickly as possible to close the claim and relieve them of any future responsibilities to you regarding this particular claim. It would be a good idea to have an insurance claims attorney review the release, to make sure you are not being cheated. When dealing with insurance companies, you want someone on your side. The quicker they ask you to sign, the likelier it is you’re dealing with a bad faith insurer.
4. Don’t cash any checks marked “full and final settlement.” Endorsing and cashing this check is the same as signing a release. Again, it would be intelligent to have an insurance claims attorney review the payout. Very often, an insurance claims attorney can fight to get you more money!
5. Don’t let your insurance company replace your Pottery Barn stuff with Wal-Mart stuff. You want to keep good records of everything you own. Keeping receipts with your tax information is an excellent idea. When your insurance company tells you they’ll give you $25 for a $150 table, you want the receipt proving what you paid. You are entitled to payment for exactly what you owned, not something that looks like it. (Attempting to do this is also a sign of a bad faith insurer).
6. Condo owners need coverage! It’s a wide misbelief that the condo association’s insurance will cover property damage or liability, but that’s only true for common areas. If you want your space and your things insured, you will need your own policy.
7. If you are forced to leave your home, don’t sleep at a shelter. Meridian insurance company is required to cover your “additional living expenses.” Stay at a hotel! In many cases, you’ll have to front the money and be reimbursed later. But if this is something you are not monetarily capable of, an insurance claims attorney will fight to get you that money immediately.
8. After a widespread disaster, insurance companies will bring in out of state claims adjusters to assess damages. An adjuster from the southern United States will not be accustomed to local building costs in New York City. You have every right to have a public claims adjuster come out to assess your damages if you feel you are not being compensated rightly. An insurance claims attorney will help you if your insurance company is not willing to comply.
9. Many times, people will settle for less than the total cost of damages because of the length of time the process can take. Insurance companies know this! They will issue checks for actual cash value of your belongings rather than replacement costs. DO NOT SETTLE FOR LESS THAN WHAT YOUR PROPERTY IS WORTH! An insurance claims attorney will help you receive the money you are due.
Filing an insurance claim and collecting payment can be a lengthy, tiresome process. Typically, you should be ready for a fight. All too often, insurance companies employing bad faith insurance claim settlement practices are looking to pay out the least amount possible, regardless of what you need and deserve. That is why an insurance claims attorney is an excellent resource to have on your side.
If you are currently in a battle with your insurance company because of an accident that has befallen your home, the team at Mininno Law Firm wants to help you. Contact us or call at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.