It has been said that good pictures can make or break a case! One of the first things we ask for when a policyholder contacts us regarding a possible denied, underpaid, or delayed insurance claim, are pictures of the damages. This is true whether it is a frozen pipe claim, hurricane or tornado damage claim, hail damage claim, fire loss claim, flood or earthquake claim, as well as personal injury/auto accident claims.
These days much of our society carries a smartphone equipped with a camera. Cameras are more readily available today than any other time in our modern history. Yet with this increased camera availability, people still neglect to take pictures of their damages from an insurance claim. It is also equally important to take “before pictures” as well, as to document property condition prior to a loss. Every quarter it is a smart idea to take pictures of the interior and exterior of your property. It is also a good idea to have a roofer, or qualified property inspector take pictures of your roof condition as well.
When the roofer takes pictures of your roof, make sure they take some broad pictures of the general condition of the roof, as well as any closeup pictures of storm related damages found (ie: wind/hail damage). Twenty to twenty-five pictures is a good amount, when documenting roof damages. Also, make sure your inspector/roofer documents the condition of peripheral items around the exterior of the property as well: window screens, soft metals, garage doors, signs/awnings, edge metal, parapet walls, and skylights. Don’t forget about Interior pictures as well! Interior pictures should document any water spots or stains on ceilings and walls, as well as stains next to any fire sprinklers and hot water heaters. Don’t forget a good attic inspection as well, especially if the hot water heater is located in the attic.
Related to the attic, one should also notate where the water and AC lines are located, and how close these lines are to the decking. These lines are supposed to be installed per building code. This is not always the case- resulting in nails impacting the lines during a reroof, and thus causing interior damages.
Video is equally as important as a good photo. Thank goodness smartphones these days are also equipped with a video camera as well. It is a good idea to video any storm damage - even while it is occurring! This is especially true of hail storms occurring at the property. One can argue all day long that there was no hail that fell at the property. However, it is hard to argue with a good video that has a date and time stamp, showing the hail fell on property. With the video make sure you include the house or commercial property itself, so as to demonstrate the authenticity of the video. Note: video clips should be kept to under 30 seconds.
Pictures should also be used to document an auto accident, or personal injury case as well. When either of these events occur, take as many pictures of the damages as possible, as well as any surrounding conditions that might be important to the case (ie: traffic lights, stop signs, road conditions, machinery that caused and accident, etc..). These days, dash cams are also becoming more readily available and should also be considered as way to document these events. One should also take pictures of the other driver’s vehicle, as well as their insurance information.
Insurance companies and adjusters will also have their own set of pictures. Although their pictures sometimes do not tell the entire story, and can be taken in such a manner as to omit certain things (depending on the agenda). This is why it is imperative to have your own set of pictures. To that end, always have your cloud storage turned on, in case your phone is lost or stolen.
Finally- hammering this important point home again- always, always, always, take pictures, and have your roofer/contractor take pictures before and after any repairs are completed. Make sure these pictures have dates and times on them as well. It would be a good idea as to place these pictures in a labeled folder. These pictures are imperative when proving to your insurance company that previous repairs have been completed when new claims arise. Note: an insurance company will not pay out on new damages if the old damages (that have been paid for by a previous claim in the same area of the property) have not been repaired per the insurance scope of repairs. As a side note it is also a good idea to place in this same folder your receipts/invoices for these repairs.
Help Us Help You!
By having a good set of pictures/video documenting your property condition prior to a loss, your damages caused by a loss, and other times relative to the claim, you are arming us with good ammunition for your case. A good policyholder attorney is the final part of the equation. A good policyholder attorney will hold the carrier’s feet to the fire when claims arise. It is well documented that insurance carriers can sometimes implement various tactics when trying to lessen their financial exposure to claims, including: underpayment, denial, and the delay of claims. This is no surprise, given the record number of increasing weather events in the last several years (as documented in earlier VLF blogs).
This is why it is important to consult with a reputable policyholder attorney when filing a claim, and especially if your claim has been denied, delayed, or underpaid.
The Voss Law Firm, P.C. has been protecting policyholder’s rights for the past sixteen years, recovering billions of dollars in settlements for our clients.
Feel free to call, or email today for a free consultation on your file.
We are 100% contingency fee based. No recovery, no fee.
Todd Farr - Director of Client Relations