Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About The Insurance Claim Process
Do you have questions about commercial and business insurance litigation, business claims law, bad faith insurance litigation, industrial insurance claims litigation, condominium insurance claims, church claims, apartment claims, first party bad faith insurance claims, and marine insurance claims? To discuss your case, contact The Voss Law Firm, P.C. toll free at 888-614-7730.
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Can’t I just tell the insurance company how much it will cost me to fix the hail damage to my boat myself?
While you can generally choose where you get hail repairs done, or even choose to do them yourself, you might want to make sure that you’re aren’t accidentally “guessing” yourself out of money you deserve. While you may have the skill and equipment to perform the necessary repairs, you’ll want to make sure you get a full and accurate assessment of the damage done by the hailstorm—preferably by a professional of your own choosing.
Hail damage can be especially tricky for boat owners, and it isn’t easy to spot the full-extent of damage to a boat. Minor issues can be overlooked, only to become major issues later on. Leaks can be missed in the initial walk-through, and you could end up with a much more expensive repair later on. The more you try to guess at the total costs of hail damage, the more likely it is that you’ll guess wrong and resolve a claim for far less than it’s really worth.
To add to the problem, insurance companies often attempt to minimize marine hail claims, and marine policyholders can be convinced that doing repairs themselves may be the only way to afford recovery from a major hailstorm.
Before you wreck your marine hail-damage claim, get informed about your rights as a policyholder. Learn more about handling boat insurance claims by reaching out to our legal team directly or requesting a free copy of our book, Your Basic Guide to Marine Insurance.
What can I do if the insurance company says I’ve misunderstood my tornado insurance coverage?
When you read your insurance policy after a tornado, it may seem clear to you that the property losses you suffered in the storm will be covered. However, when your insurance company reads the same policy, it says that you’re not covered. How can there be so much confusion over a single policy when the words you’re looking at are the same?
Unfortunately, these kinds of misunderstandings happen more than you might think. Differing interpretations of policy wording, unexpected exclusions, and even subtle gaps in coverage can mean that many seemingly legitimate tornado claims are instead denied outright. Here are some things you should know.
Common Misunderstandings About Insurance Coverage After a Tornado
Many property owners misunderstand the coverage their insurance policies really provide. Despite efforts to make policy terms easier for consumers to understand, these documents are often still filled with confusing industry terms and unusual definitions. While many people have read their basic declarations page, they often haven’t read deeper into their policies—and they may not be aware of important exceptions to their coverage. For example, although most standard policies will include some coverage for tornado losses, they don’t always cover:
- Inflation adjustments. Inflation can mean that the cost of repairs or replacement has increased significantly compared to when you first purchased your insurance policy. However, insurance companies don’t always account for the most recent fluctuations in price.
- Changes in building codes. Building codes and regulations change over time, but insurance companies won’t always cover the costs of bringing a property up to new codes. This can particularly be a challenge in areas that have suffered very heavy damages from tornados and may need to completely rebuild properties.
- Access for repairs. Although your insurance policy may cover the repair of tornado damages, it doesn’t always cover the cost of getting in to do the job. While the costs of access lines and drywall patches may not necessarily add a lot to the final cost of a repair, they can add up quickly and come as surprise when payment is due.
- Losses caused by flooding. Although floods often accompany tornados, the damages they cause aren’t usually covered in standard property insurance policies. Instead, most home and business owners have to submit these claims through their separate flood insurance policies. There can also be confusing exclusions or gray areas when it comes to coverage for losses due to sewer backup and overwhelmed drains in heavy rains. Insurance claims for water damage are often complicated, so make sure you understand how your coverage works.
Another common source of misunderstanding is that insurance coverage can also vary depending on where you live. For example, in some tornado-prone regions of the Midwest, insurance coverage for tornado losses may be much more limited than in other areas of the United States.
Clearing Up Misunderstandings About Tornado Insurance Policy Terms
To avoid misunderstandings, the best thing you can do is make sure you carefully read through and understand your insurance policies. You should ask questions about what might be covered, and pay attention to deductibles, coverage limits, and exclusions. Don’t be afraid to ask the insurance company for help if there are sections or exclusions you don’t understand. You should also make sure to check your insurance coverage regularly and notify the company any time you’ve made major changes to your property. All of this helps you avoid surprising claim denials when you need help the most.
However, keep in mind that there are also situations where the insurance isn’t playing fair, so don’t automatically assume that a denial or delay is your fault. There are many tricks insurance companies use to avoid paying the maximum amount for tornado claims, and there are times when insurance companies unfairly interpret policy terms to their benefit. It’s worth taking the time to talk over any major surprises in your coverage with an experienced professional.
Insurance companies deny tornado claims for a number of reasons, and it’s not always the policyholder who is wrong. If you’ve read over your existing policies and just can’t seem to spot the problem, the next step is to take your concerns to an experienced policyholder attorney. With professional legal help on your side, you can work through your policy—word by word, if necessary—to dig out the truth about your coverage and make sure the insurance company is treating you fairly and acting in “good faith.” If you have questions, reach out to the Voss Law Firm at 1-888-614-7730 for a one-on-one review of your situation and real answers about moving forward.
What can I do to make sure my business property is covered for losses in a windstorm?
There are a lot of details involved in commercial insurance, and it may not always be clear how your business property might be covered if you’re hit by a major windstorm. Here are three tips that can help you understand your current coverage and make sure your business is prepared:
- Read your commercial insurance policies. Depending on the coverage you currently carry, windstorm losses may be covered under a general policy or a separate policy. In some cases, you may even submit windstorm-related claims under two or more policies—for example, if there was water damage in addition to direct wind damage. The better you understand how your business is covered in case of loss, the better prepared you will be when a storm does strike.
- Look for any gaps in coverage. Businesses evolve, change, and grow over time, and so should your commercial insurance coverage. Think about any major changes to your business properties, and make sure the policies your carry fully protect your business and suit your needs.
- Perform regular maintenance and inspections. A little bit of attention can go a long way toward preventing wind damage. Regular inspections of the grounds and buildings, as well as prompt repairs when needed, can help you spot potential problems and even avoid having to file later wind-damage claims.
For more help understanding commercial insurance coverage after a loss event, request your free copy of our book, Commercial Insurance Claims: The Basics, or contact our law office directly by phone.
Why does fire insurance coverage vary so much from farm to farm?
Most farms carry some kind of insurance against fire-related losses—or they at least think they do. The problem is that the policies that protect agricultural policyholders can be very different depending on the circumstances, even when the agricultural operations affected seem very similar on the surface. This is because:
- Farm coverage may be a mix of home and business policies. Unlike most other businesses, farms may need to be prepared for commercial losses and damages to a family home or residence on the property. Fire coverage, in particular, can be complicated because separate policies and coverage for specific property losses may be necessary to fill gaps.
- Different farms have different needs. The insurance needs and industry risks for a small horse ranch are very different from those involved in a large-scale grain operation or a vineyard that welcomes tourists. Fire insurance policies for farms reflect these kinds of differences in coverage needs.
- Different insurance companies offer different options. Depending on the type of policies chosen and the company providing coverage, even very similar-sounding fire policies can involve coverage surprises and differences in interpretation.
Aside from these variances from farm to farm, there can also be surprises for policyholders who haven’t checked up on their coverage in a while or assumed certain losses were covered under their general policies. Farms often change over time, and the policies that protect them may already be very complex. It’s not unusual for policyholders to assume that their fire claims will have a similar outcome to past claims for losses or similar claims from neighbors—when nothing could be further from the truth.
Take the time today to get informed about maximizing your recovery after a farm fire. You can learn more about negotiating insurance claims after agricultural losses by reading our free book, Understanding Agricultural Insurance Claims.
How do tornados damage industrial buildings so quickly?
Tornados can cause sudden and shocking destruction, sometimes wiping out individual buildings—or entire industrial parks—in only a moment’s time. When industrial policyholders are able to start surveying and assessing the extensive and costly damage done, one of the biggest questions is, “How did it all happen so fast?”
Industrial Buildings Take Extensive Damage From Combined Factors in a Tornado
It’s not unusual for industrial buildings—whether metal, brick, or more temporary building materials—to take significant damage in a tornado, and some structures may even be completely destroyed. This destructive power is usually due to a combination of:
- Debris. High winds can toss debris across long distances with great force, whether that debris is made of loose branches and roofing material or large trees and twisted steel.
- Wind. Once debris has broken windows or punctured a building, high winds rapidly rush into the structure. This causes a kind of “inflation” effect that can cause roofs to lift, ripple, and even collapse entirely. Industrial buildings may also have features, like large bay doors or specialized roofing, which can also allow tornadic winds to rush into the building and cause significant damage.
Extensive Industrial Tornado Losses Can Be Followed by Frustrating Insurance Claims
No matter how carefully industrial policyholders prepare their tornado-loss claims or how extensive their losses, they still run into problems with unfair delays, mysterious denials, and disputes over the cost of recovery. If you are having trouble negotiating a fair resolution for damage to your industrial property and need help, connect with our experienced team today.
Should I be present when a marine fire is investigated and assessed?
While you don’t strictly have to be there for every investigation and assessment of fire-damaged marine property, you may actually want to be. The success of your insurance claim depends on the accuracy of these documents and the care put into them. By making sure that you’re on site when all of the initial inspections, investigations, assessments, and estimates are done, you can be certain that:
- You’re there to answer questions about what happened. It can be helpful to be there to clarify what happened and answer any questions that come up. Without your input, it’s easy for investigators to come to inaccurate conclusions or miss important factors.
- You can make sure that details aren’t missed. The damage from fires on boats, docks, and large vessels can go deeper than the surface, and an inspection that is rushed could miss costly losses. If you’re on site at the same time, you can make sure that everything is thoroughly documented.
- You can make arrangements to get copies of the documentation. Policyholders don’t always automatically receive the reports from investigators and contractors. Meeting with them personally during the inspection gives you a chance to make sure you know what’s being reported and get hard copies for your records.
Private and commercial marine claims can be more complicated than claims on shore. For more answers to common questions about boat and marine property losses, take a look at our free and easy-to-understand book, Your Basic Guide to Marine Insurance Claims.
What kinds of problems should we expect when filing a hail damage claim for church buildings?
While you may not run into problems every time you file a hail claim for your church, problems are more common than most policyholders realize—and it makes sense to plan ahead and understand what to look for. Here are some examples of the kinds of problems our clients have had with their hail claims:
- Delays. The most common problems policyholders run into with their hail claims is not knowing what’s going on. Churches can wait weeks or months without progress, and a lot of phone calls, emails, and letters to the insurer might be ignored.
- Denials. Denials are common, but churches may not have to accept a denied claim. Whether the insurance company is arguing that the damage didn’t come from hail or that the terms of your policy won’t cover the losses, you may be able to fight for the coverage you deserve.
- Repair versus replacement. Hail-damaged churches end up settling for repair costs from the insurance company instead of needed replacements far too often, and it’s important that you make a strong case for replacement when necessary—even if the insurance company doesn’t see it that way.
- Incomplete assessments. Another common problem has to do with how careful and thorough hail-damage assessments are. If the assessment is incomplete or rushed, a great deal of damage can go unreported and cause problems down the road.
- Undervalued claims. Insurance companies are keen on saving money, and they often undervalue even small hail claims to protect their own bottom line. If your church has suffered losses in a hailstorm, it’s worth the extra effort to maximize your claim and make sure the offer you receive is fair.
Find out more about the problems policyholders run into when filing claims and what to do if it happens to you. Visit our other Frequently Asked Questions or connect with our legal team on Facebook today.
What can I do if I disagree with the insurance company over fair settlement of a claim for flood damages to my dairy farm?
Dairy farms can be decimated by serious flooding, especially when it is unexpected or outside of the usual flood regions. Losses of livestock, milking equipment, farm tools, and more add up to a costly recovery, and farmers trust their flood insurance companies to be ready to compensate them fairly when a loss event takes place. However, sometimes farm insurance companies don’t treat their policyholders fairly, and farms need to take action to protect their rights.
If you have been unable to negotiate a fair resolution on a flood insurance claim, here are some options for working through the disagreement and maximizing your claim:
- Don’t accept an offer from the insurance company that you aren’t comfortable with. If you aren’t sure if the insurance company is offering a fair resolution for your flood claim, don’t accept the offer until you’ve had a chance to review it thoroughly.
- Speak to an attorney who is experienced with insurance disputes. An attorney who is familiar with similar types of agricultural claims can guide policyholders through the necessary steps to identify problems with their flood claims and demand fair treatment from insurers.
- Take independent steps to document damage and collect evidence of losses. If you are relying solely on assessments and estimates prepared by the insurance company or its contractors, talk to your attorney about bringing in a contractor you trust for another opinion. You will also want to start collecting the documentation, photographs, and other evidence needed to prove that you deserve more for your farm’s losses.
For more information about farm losses and insurance claims, take a moment today to request your FREE copy of our easy-to-understand book, Understanding Agricultural Insurance Claims.
What can an industrial policyholder do if the insurance company refuses to return phone calls about a delayed fire claim?
You’ve sent letters, left voice mails, talked to lower-level staff, and tried to call over and over again, but you still can’t get the answers you need about a delayed claim—does this sound familiar? If you’re having trouble getting through the insurance company about a fire-damage claim, you’re definitely not alone. It’s a problem many businesses and industrial operations run into after a fire, and the sad reality is that some insurance companies will purposefully avoid communicating with policyholders about delays.
Why Won’t the Insurance Company Return Calls About an Industrial Fire Claim?
There are a number of reasons an insurance company may become unresponsive to policyholder communication, including:
- The insurance company hopes to benefit from the mystery. While recovering after a fire may be a priority for policyholders, insurance companies are often more interested in protecting their own bottom lines. By keeping a policyholder in the dark about delays and the progress of their claims, insurance companies can subtly pressure increasingly desperate policyholders.
- You’re communicating with the wrong company, department, or representative. Industrial fire policies can be very complex, and it’s easy to make mistakes. The reason you’re not getting the answers you need may simply be because you’re trying to go through the wrong avenues.
- The insurance company isn’t taking your claim seriously. Although insurance companies have some responsibility to pay claims promptly and communicate about complications, untrained staff or poor customer service can add up to frustrations for policyholders who need resolution after a fire.
Depending on what’s at the root of your communication problem with your industrial fire insurance carrier, there may be a number actions you can take to assert your rights and open the lines of communication—but it may be wise to seek legal help in moving your claim forward.
An Experienced Legal Team Can Help You Get the Answers and Responses You Need
When insurance companies choose to act in “bad faith” by unfairly prolonging claims or refusing to communicate, policyholders suffer. However, there is help available if you can’t get answers from your insurer or find yourself in a dispute. You can talk about your concerns today with an attorney who has experience in similar industrial insurance claims and start learning how to assert your rights, and it’s easy to take the first step. To get started now, call our office directly, or fill out the quick contact form on this page.
What can I do if my claim for marine wind damage has been denied due to “poor maintenance?”
Windstorms can cause a number of unpredictable damages to boats and marine property, and marine policyholders could be left to file claims for losses that range from minor cosmetic issues to extreme and costly repairs. Unfortunately, they are not always able to be successful with their claims on their own—and they may even be blamed for the damages from the storm.
Two Steps to Take If Your Lack of Maintenance Is Being Blamed for Windstorm Damage
If you’ve honestly taken poor care of the vessels and marine property you own, then your claim may be legitimately denied—but what happens when you feel certain you were vigilant in maintaining your property? While many insurance companies may be willing to play by the rules, there are some insurance companies that deny legitimate claims of wind damage and blame the policyholder for overlooking reasonable maintenance of the vessel. And, while it can be very difficult to push through these kinds of unfair tactics and get the coverage your marine business pays for, it is possible.
Here are two steps you can take if an insurance company is denying a marine property damage claim due to unfair accusations of poor maintenance:
- Get an independent assessment. Although the insurance company may have sent teams to investigate and assess your windstorm damages, it’s worth hiring a team of your own if you’ve run into disputes over the cause and extent of losses. By working with a qualified contractor of your own choosing, you can make sure that all problems and potential causes have been thoroughly investigated and documented.
- Contact an insurance litigation attorney. Running into disputes over marine insurance claims can make recovery from a windstorm more complicated than it needs to be, but you can get real answers about your policyholder rights and unfair claim denials. By getting into contact with an experienced insurance litigation attorney, you can make sure that you are maximizing your claim and protecting yourself from potential tricks and traps.
Ultimately, it is up to you to get informed and get the help you need with a claim dispute. For more information about insurance claims for boats and marine businesses, request your free copy of our book, Your Basic Guide to Marine Insurance. You can also contact our legal team directly by taking advantage of the Live Chat button on this page.
The Voss Law Firm, P.C. represents clients on a local, national and international basis. We proudly serve companies and individuals along the Gulf Coast and around the globe on a contingency fee basis. Our law firm collects nothing unless we recover on our client's behalf.