When a major fire causes property damage and destruction, policyholders cling to the fact that they have insurance coverage for their businesses. However, sometimes insurers deny commercial insurance claims that are legitimate, delay claim settlements, and use unfair practices that extract the costs of recovery from the pockets of their customers. Attorney Bill Voss has helped businesses of all kinds fight unfair treatment and resolve their fire insurance claims, and he’d like to share some information about how to spot “bad faith” practices after a fire and what you can do to fight back.
How to Recognize Unfair Treatment From the Fire Insurance Company
When insurance companies don’t return phone calls, fail to communicate, take little action, and lack urgency, they may be guilty of using unjust practices. Some of the most common “bad faith” and unfair practices used by insurers include:
- Misrepresenting information in the insurance policy to their advantage.
- Failing to promptly request additional information from their customers or declining to tell them why the information is necessary in processing the claim.
- Not performing an on-site inspection of the fire damage within seven business days from the time the claim was filed.
- Failing to give a claim determination within a reasonable amount of time.
- Not providing a written denial that references specific policy provisions and that includes a comprehensive explanation of why the claim was denied.
- Failing to pay 20 percent of the claim upfront, once it’s been determined that the damages are covered under the policy.
If you suspect that your claim isn’t being treated fairly by your insurer, or if you see signs that your rights as a policyholder are being violated, then it’s time to take action.
What to Do When the Insurance Company Won’t Fairly Pay a Property Damage Claim
Businesses that have been affected by damaging fires may be told by the insurance company that their claim has been denied or that they will only receive a fraction of the amount they need to fix their property. However, it’s worth investigating unexpected denials, delays, and underpayments and determining what your rights really are. Here are some important tips for protecting yourself in this situation:
- Do not accept the insurance company’s “no” answer.
- Do not accept the insurance adjuster’s first low-ball offer.
- Do not rely on what the insurance company is telling you about the fire damage.
Instead, it is important that you have your own inspection done following a fire. Take pictures and point out the property damage to both your inspector and to the insurance adjuster. Talk with an attorney who has worked through commercial insurance claim denials similar to yours to get help determining why you’re having trouble getting results that satisfy you.
As insurance claim attorneys, we know that you purchase commercial fire insurance to protect against losses; however, sometimes insurance companies will fight you on what caused the damage or if the damage is covered. This is when we step in to help you get any coverage available under your policy and to determine if your insurance company denied your claim unfairly and is in breach of contract. An experienced attorney can help you:
- Review your policy.
- Communicate with the insurance company.
- Protect your interests.
- Appeal your claim denial.
- Negotiate with the insurance company to get a fair offer.
- File the correct paperwork to pursue your claim through a lawsuit.
- Represent you in litigation and fight for your rights.
If your commercial insurance claim was undervalued or wrongfully denied by bad faith insurers, you need to an experienced lawyer on your side to ensure you get a fair claim payout. The Voss Law Firm helps those who have been treated unfairly by their insurers, and we would be happy to speak with you today in a free case review.