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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How can I make home improvements that will lower my insurance premium?
Making some simple home improvements is a great way to lower your homeowners insurance premium – and a great way to reduce your chances of property damage. From replacing your garage door to changing your locks to retrofitting your entire home, changes of all sizes can lower your insurance bill and make your house a safer place to live. Below, we've listed just a few common projects that can protect your home and save you money:
- Reinforce your roof.
- Buy better shingles or roof protection.
- Add earthquake retrofitting.
- Install cripple wall bracing.
- Install holddown brackets.
- Install foundation bolting.
- Modernize your heating system.
- Modernize your electrical system.
- Modernize your plumbing system.
- Add an alarm system.
- Add deadbolt locks.
- Add smoke detectors.
- Add a sprinkler system.
- Fence your yard, swimming pool, or trampoline.
- Eliminate your swimming pool or trampoline.
- Eliminate your diving board or pool slide.
- Install shatterproof windows and glass.
- Install motion-activated exterior lights.
- Buy a reinforced garage door.
Before making these improvements, be sure to check with your isnurance company to verify that there will be a discount associated with your home project. Also, make sure that you choose home improvement projects that make sense for your region; for example, don't retrofit your home for earthquakes if you live in an area that doesn't often experience big quakes. Also consider the initial cost of your home improvement – and whether that cost will be worth the added protection and insurance savings in the long run.
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Can I file an insurance claim if my vacant home was vandalized?
While most standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage resulting from vandalism, there are some important exceptions to the rule that you should understand when filing your claim.
First and foremost, in most policies, your home must not be vacant at the time that the vandalism occurred. Usually, this means that the house was been occupied within the last 60 days. How is “occupied” defined? If your family left for a 61-day vacation and was planning on returning to your home, which was furnished and lived in, your insurance company would likely cover any vandalism damage. If you moved out of your home with no plan on returning in the near future, your home is considered unoccupied and vandalism damage would not be covered by your insurance policy.
You should also note that most insurance companies do not consider homes that are under construction to be vacant. Therefore, if your new home is under construction, it is covered by your insurance company in the case of vandalism, even if no one is currently living in it and even if it is not furnished. Likewise, if your vandalized home is being renovated and has not been lived in for over 60 days, your insurance company may have to cover the damage according to your policy.
Remember: All homeowners insurance policies are different. The best way to understand when your home is covered in the case of vandalism is to read your contract with the insurance company carefully.
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Who is at fault if a tree or limb falls on my home? Can I get compensated for damages?
A tree or large limb comes crashing down on your residential property, causing significant damage and requiring significant repairs. Before you can file a homeowners’ insurance claim and get money for repairs, you have to understand exactly who was at fault for the tree – and whether it should have been prevented.
In most cases, there are three different options.
- Your neighbor might be at fault. If the tree was fully located on your neighbor’s property, and if it was badly neglected, they may be at fault for the damage incurred on your property. However, it is important that evidence exists that your neighbor was aware of the tree’s danger and did nothing to prevent the tree from falling. If your neighbor is clearly at fault, you should still file a claim with your insurance company. Your insurance company may try to collect claim money from your neighbor’s insurance company.
- The weather might be at fault. In many cases, perfectly healthy and robust trees are knocked down in severe weather: sometimes high winds can bend and break trees, while in other cases heavy snow and ice can bring down even the largest trees. In the majority of these instances, general homeowners insurance policies will cover the cost of repairs. In rare cases, an insurance company may claim that the falling tree was an “Act of God” and deny your claim.
- You might be at fault. Insurance companies may not cover your claim if they discover that the tree on your property fell due to your negligence. Were you aware that the tree was a danger, due to broken branches or a rotting trunk? Did you do something to the tree that led to its fall? To a reasonable extent, a homeowner is required to maintain their property and keep it safe.
Does my homeowners’ insurance policy cover mold damage?
Your homeowners’ insurance policy may cover some types of mold damage and not others. When it comes to insurance, whether or not you are covered often depends on why your property was damaged, not how it was damaged.
If your mold was caused by a maintenance problem…
Your insurance policy doesn’t likely cover eliminating your mold. You have a responsibility to maintain your home, fix leaks, and make regular repairs.
If your mold was caused by flood damage…
Your insurance policy won’t likely pay for you to fix your mold damage. Many basic homeowners’ policies do not cover flood damage, so any damage related to floodwaters would also not be covered.
If you have a separate flood insurance policy…
If your mold damage was caused by floodwaters, you may have a valid insurance claim. Read your flood insurance policy carefully to find out more.
If your mold damage was caused by issues with your home construction…
The damage may not be covered by your insurance policy, but you may be able to get your construction company or contractor to make repairs.
Remember, the single best way to determine whether your mold damage is covered by your insurance policy or your builder warranty is to read your contracts carefully. It is also important to regularly look for signs of mold in your home. If you find mold, understanding the source of the mold is vital to stomping out the problem and understanding who should pay for repairs.
Want to read more? Read about what to do if you find mold in your new construction home.
What should I do if I think my insurance claim was underpaid?
Underpaid insurance claims are much more common than wrongfully denied insurance claims. Insurance companies have learned that underpaying claims—even by five or ten percent—can save them millions of dollars and that their policyholders often don’t take the effort to fight back.
If you believe you aren’t being offered enough for your insurance claim, you can and should fight back. When you bought your policy, and when you pay your premiums, you are holding up your half of the contract with the insurance company. When they pay your claim, they are holding up their half of the deal. If they underpay your claim, they are acting in bad faith and breaking the law.
If you think that your insurance claim has been underpaid, closely read your insurance policy and review your coverage closely. After that, contact your insurance company, and ask for a detailed explanation of how they calculated the amount. Be sure to keep a record of what they say and any paperwork they send you. Next, consider getting an independent adjuster to assess your damage and estimate repair costs. Finally, if your insurance company is still attempting to underpay (or delay) your claim, consider contacting an insurance claims attorney to review your case and fight for your cause.
When your insurance company underpays your claim, you are not getting enough funds to fix or replace your damaged property. In addition, when you do not fight the underpaid claim, you are allowing the insurance company to get away with cheating its customers—and showing them that their appalling tactics work.
How is hail size and hail damage measured?
Hurricanes, tornados, and tropical storms are measured primarily by wind. But how are hailstorms measured? Although many factors contribute to the severity of a hailstorm—including hail size, hail texture, wind speed, hail density, and hail number—meteorologists measure hailstorms in two major ways:
- Hail size. Hail varies in size from the width of a pea to the width of a soccer ball. The size of hail is an obviously major factor in hail damage. According to the National Weather Service, any thunder storm with one-inch diameter hail (about the size of a quarter) results in a severe weather warning. It is also around this size that hail can potentially harm crops, structures, and people without shelter.
- Hail intensity. The Tornado and Storm Research Organization (TORRO) developed the TORRO Hailstorm Intensity Scale in 1986 in order to differintate between mild and severe hailstorms. An H0 storm involved no hail damage, an H5 storm produced roof damage and possible human injuries, and an H10 storm produced widespread damage and possible fatalities.
The largest hailstone ever recovered was found in 2003 in Aurora, Nebraska. It measured seven inches in diameter.
If your home, property, or business has been damaged in a hailstorm, the intensity of the storm or the size of the hail is not pertinent, but getting the money you deserve to cover the cost of repairs is. If you need assistance with your hailstorm damage insurance claim, call the Voss Law Firm today to schedule a confidential, complimentary case evaluation with a Texas insurance claim attorney: 888-614-7730.
If I have business interruption coverage, what is the point in protecting against business interruptions? Related Links:
Paying for business interruption insurance is not a free pass to stop protecting against business interruptions. It is in your best interest to protect your business from stalls and disturbances. Not to mention that your business interruption insurance company will investigate your business for safeguards before and during your interruption. If you are not protecting against business interruptions properly, the cost of your business interruption insurance may be high. Or, the insurance company may not choose to insure you at all.
Before quoting your business interruption insurance, the insurance company may examine a number of aspects of your business, including:
- Security systems
- Sprinkler systems
- Warning systems
- Back-up computer servers
- Building structure
- Smoke alarms
- Evacuation plans
- Contingency plans
You should also note that business interruption insurance does not cover all expenses and all instances of business interruption. For example, business interruption insurance often does not include the first few days of business interruption and only lasts a limited time after your business interruption incident.
It is important for most businesses to carry business interruption insurance. But it is equally important for these businesses to take precautions against the common causes of business interruption, ranging from faulty technology to severe weather.
Are you having difficulty filing your business interruption insurance claim, or do you simply have a question about business interruption insurance? We may be able to help. At the Voss Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping our clients navigate the world of insurance to protect themselves against unforeseen events and incidents. Call us today to schedule a private, free meeting with one of our experienced business interruption attorneys: 888-614-7730.
What are the differences between burglary, theft, and vandalism? Related Links:
Someone has broken into your business and caused damage. You may be confused by which crime was technically committed on your property and whether the damage is covered by your commercial insurance policy. In order to better understand how your business was damaged, it is important to know the differences between burglary, theft, and vandalism. Let’s take a look at their basic definitions:
- Burglary. Burglary is the act of entering a property illegally with the intent of breaking a law. Elements of burglary include trespassing, breaking, and entering. Someone who commits burglary could do so in order to steal from the property, to illegally dwell there, or to vandalize property.
- Theft. Theft or robbery is a criminal act in which a person takes someone else’s property without permission. While burglary often goes hand-in-hand with theft, theft can occur without burglary and vice versa.
- Vandalism. Vandalism is the purposeful and malicious destruction of property by someone who does not own the property. It is sometimes referred to as malicious mischief or malicious trespassing. It is common for those who commit vandalism to first commit burglary, though not everyone who commits burglary is guilty of vandalism.
When your business or commercial property has been damaged by burglars, thieves, or vandals, the damage can be significant and expensive. It is important to understand exactly how your property was damaged and exactly what your policy covers when you make an insurance claim. The commercial insurance claim attorneys at the Voss Law Firm can help. Call today to speak with one of our experienced lawyers: 888-614-7730.
What is reinsurance? Do I need that?
Whether you're filing a crop insurance claim or a homeowners insurance claim, you've got your insurance company behind you. But do you ever wonder how the companies are able to pay out so many expensive claims? Think about how much money they had to dish out after big storms like Superstorm Sandy! Here's their little secret: they have insurance, too.
Reinsurance is when an insurance company buys insurance for itself. It's a method used for distributing the risk. In the event of a huge insurance event, the insurance company is able to pay the claims without going bankrupt. Since reinsurance is for insurance companies, this is not something you would ever have to purchase for yourself. You will also probably have no idea if your insurance company is reinsured because there should never really be a time that you have to deal with the reinsurer. The reinsurer’s primary relationship is with the insurance company it is covering. It really has nothing to do with your specific policy. When you file a claim, you will only need to deal with your insurance company. If your company needs extra money, it will need to speak with the reinsurer.
Believe it or not, some reinsurance companies also get their own insurance, and this is called retrocession insurance. It can get a little confusing sometimes for all of these companies, but luckily, you shouldn't have to deal with them at all.
Are you trying to deal with a denied insurance claim? Contact a Houston insurance claim attorney at The Voss Law Firm, P.C. today for a free consultation at 888-614-7730.
How do I know if I have enough insurance so that I won’t have an insurance claim denied?
When you purchase a residential insurance policy, you could select many different coverages that will vary your settlement amount in the event of a loss. For example, an insurance claim can be reviewed based on the replacement cost.
In the event of a loss, the cost to replace your home may be more than what your insurance policy will provide, which is why it is best to know your replacement cost and to get enough insurance to cover that amount. However, keep in mind that when a major disaster occurs, such as a hurricane or wildfire, it can create a supply-and-demand situation, increasing costs to replace damaged property.
You should have your property insured to at least 80 percent of the replacement cost so that your insurance policy will cover most of your insurance claims. However, you can get additional coverage in case of a total loss. Ask your insurance company if they offer an endorsement that would provide full coverage to replace your property in the event of a total loss. If your home cost more to replace than what your limit is, your claim should be covered if you have extra coverage, such as full-replacement coverage. Also, you can purchase additional coverages like building code upgrades, earthquake insurance, and more to make sure you are totally covered.
For help making sure you have the right insurance before you need to make an insurance claim, call the Voss Law Firm to speak with a knowledgeable insurance litigation lawyer. We would be happy to review your policy and needs and give you advice in a free initial consultation today at 888-614-7730.
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.