If you've been a Victim of Fire or Water Damage
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Severe damage to your home or business turns your life upside down. For businesses, it can mean diminished productivity or even force a shut down. For homeowners, it can destroy the value of their largest investment or even leave them with no place to live. Most home and business owners lack the resources to recover from these events. Without benefits from their property insurance carriers, they are wiped out.
Property insurance was invented to prevent households and businesses from being severely burdened or ruined by fires, water leaks, burglaries, vandalism, storm damage, and any other disasters that wreck properties. Property owners pay their premiums faithfully in order to protect their families and livelihoods. If the insurance company lives up to its end of the bargain, they are glad they paid those premiums.
What if the insurance company refuses to live up to its end of the bargain? In some cases, homes are destroyed and businesses remain closed while insurance adjusters dither and nitpick. In some cases, good claims and delayed or denied all together with devastating effect on the policyholder. Claimants are told to accept a low settlement or nothing. When insurance companies employ these unscrupulous tactics, they act in bad faith. If you are the victim of an insurance company’s bad faith, you have rights under the law that allow you to recover not just the full value of your claim, but damages for inconvenience, stress, emotional distress, legal fees and, in some cases, punitive damages.
It seems shocking to those unfamiliar with the inner workings of the insurance industry. Aren’t property insurance companies in business to help property owners in their times of need? The answer is no.
Insurance companies are in business to generate profits for their investors. The way they generate these profits is based on a very simple business model: collect the most premium and pay the least claims. The more an insurance company succeeds in that goal, the higher its profits and value.
Because of this, insurance adjusters are trained to look for ways to deny and devalue claims. They rarely settle for the full value of the claim right away. This pits you against your insurance company.
The insurance company has a legal obligation to fulfill the terms of the policy and act fairly toward policyholders. When it fails to do so, it commits bad faith and creates a legal claim for the policyholder.
Insurance companies engage in bad faith in property claims by a variety of actions. One of the most common and severely damaging is denying a claim without reasonable grounds. When this happens, the insurance company often misconstrues facts in order to justify its denial. A property insurance attorney can unravel the insurance company’s false arguments, expose the bad faith, and reverse the denial or take the insurance company to court.
When insurance carriers intentionally delay claims or ignore them, this also constitutes bad faith. If your home or business is severely damaged and you are made to suffer while the insurance company takes no action, your carrier has treated you in bad faith. A property insurance attorney can force the insurance company to take action or bring it to court.
When insurance companies offer insufficient claims payment, they act in bad faith. These payments fail to make the claimant whole and are often forced on the claimants after many delays. Putting policyholders in this position always constitutes bad faith. When the insurance company engages in these tactics in order to gain advantage for itself at the expense of policyholders, the policyholder has a claim for punitive damages.
Bad faith actions on the part of property insurance companies causes policyholder’s damages to increase. Because the insurance company refused to act right, the policyholder suffered more than the original claim amount. The policyholder’s increased stress, lost time, lost income, inconvenience, and all legal fees become the responsibility of the insurance company. Because the insurance company hurt the policyholder for its own benefit, it also owes punitive damages.
If your insurance carrier is acting in bad faith on your claim, contact a bad faith property claims attorney as soon as possible. By getting an attorney involved right away, you put the insurance company on notice that you are prepared to fight back. Your attorney can evaluate your legal position and determine how much your claim is worth in court.
Often, insurance companies realize that fighting you and your attorney in court will only result in paying out an even higher amount. Because of this, they will often settle. If they don’t, your attorney can recover damages in court far beyond the original claim.
When your home or business suffers devastating damage, you have the right to the insurance benefits your premiums bought. Don’t let the insurance company’s bad faith leave you in the hole. If your insurance company isn’t treating you fairly and honoring its obligations, contact a property claims lawyer right away.