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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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.
How can my small marine business push for a fair outcome after an insurance claim for losses has been denied?
If you’ve been trying to resolve a claim for losses under your marine insurance policy and just can’t come to a resolution that works for you, it’s worth reaching out to an experienced policyholder attorney to review your case. Every marine business has different needs and different coverage, and marine insurance policies can be very complicated. When you start running into additional complications like denials, delays, or insufficient offers, it’s time to bring in a legal professional who has experience with these kinds of claims and can effectively protect your interests.
While you may feel that it’s obvious that your claim is legitimate or worth more than the adjuster has offered, even legitimate claims can be a struggle to resolve successfully. A skilled policyholder attorney can lend additional leverage to your claim when the going gets complicated, and he or she can help you take the steps to maximize your claim, support your case, and reverse an unfair denial under your marine insurance coverage. The insurance company has a team of highly trained legal professionals working on your claim, and the best way to navigate challenges is to hire a highly experienced legal team that can work on the side of your marine business.
You can avoid serious mistakes, delays, denials, and traps by arming yourself with information and insider tips for handling insurance claims. Start learning more today by requesting your free copy of our book, Your Basic Guide to Marine Insurance, or contact our policyholder attorneys directly for personalized help with your questions and concerns.
What can I do after a hurricane to prevent similar marine losses in the future?
Losses in the marine industry can be unpredictable, and it’s just not possible to prevent all potential losses. However, in the months after a serious hurricane loss, it’s wise for marine policyholders to use that experience to work toward a better and more efficient experience in the future. Here are a few steps you can take to develop a better loss mitigation plan in the event of future hurricanes and weather events:
- Take a good look at past experience. How has your marine coverage worked for you historically? Are there any patterns that can be identified in previous damage claims that should be addressed? Looking at the big picture of how your marine insurance coverage has worked for you can be an eye-opening experience.
- Identify problems and coverage gaps. Are there gaps in your insurance protection? Are there things you would change about the hurricane-damage claims you recently navigated? Has the current state of your company evolved beyond prior coverage? Review your current coverage and compare it with the current needs of your marine business.
- Implement better solutions for marine insurance concerns. Once problems have been identified, there may be many solutions available. By working with an experienced policyholder attorney, you can get the best insight into building a loss mitigation and coverage plan that will offer more ideal protection in the future.
An experienced policyholder attorney can guide you through the steps needed to strengthen your marine protection. For more information about handling claims, mitigating losses, and negotiating insurance settlements, request your free copy of our important book, Your Basic Guide to Marine Insurance, or contact our office directly.
Should I sign a confidentiality agreement from the insurance company after a marine loss?
In many cases, signing a non-disclosure agreement could unnecessarily complicate your marine insurance claim. Without knowing more about the details of your insurance coverage and losses, it’s difficult to provide accurate and useful guidance on these matters. However, if you have any doubts about signing any kind of document related to a marine insurance claim, it is always appropriate to consult with an experienced policyholder attorney. An attorney can help you carefully review:
- Non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements. Before you sign a non-disclosure agreement, realize that doing so could limit your leverage later on and weaken your marine insurance claim.
- Settlement offers. Before you accept a payment from the insurance company, make sure that you know what your claim is worth, what it will take to recover fully from your marine losses, and that you are taking full advantage of your coverage.
- Any document you don’t fully understand. Marine insurance is complicated even for those in the industry, and it helps to bring in a professional legal team to review any insurance-related documents for accuracy, effectiveness, and any potential limitations of your negotiating power.
It can be difficult to work toward a full recovery after a marine loss when you face delays, complications, and mistakes with your claim. For answers to your questions and help negotiating your claim, request your free copy of our book, Your Basic Guide to Marine Insurance, or reach out to our team for immediate, one-on-one assistance with your concerns.
What documents will I need to file a marine insurance claim for damage to a vessel?
There are a number of documents and records that will be necessary for filing a marine insurance claim for damage to a vessel, and we strongly recommend that you consult with a professional legal team if you have any questions about what you will need in order to successfully file a claim. Every claim is different, and having experienced legal support at your disposal can speed up the claims process and ensure that costly mistakes are avoided.
In general, however, you should start getting prepared for your insurance claim by gathering:
- A copy of your marine insurance policy
- Copies of all paperwork related to the vessel and claim, including the Bill of Lading, the copy of protest, the certificate of survey, and the letter of subrogation
- Photographs of damage to the vessel or equipment
- Photographs of damaged or incomplete cargo
- Copies of any other communication regarding the incident and losses
- Photographs, evidence, and other documentation
Once you’ve gathered this information, share it with the attorney who is handling your claim for offshore losses. An experienced legal professional can help you organize your documentation, rectify any missing documentation, and navigate the process of filing your marine insurance claim.
For more information from our legal team, request your free copy of our book, Your Basic Guide to Marine Insurance Claims, which is designed to help you understand and navigate your marine insurance coverage and avoid common mistakes and delays.
What is general average as it pertains to maritime law?
General average is a long-time maritime law concept that splits the losses of a vessel between all invested parties equally—under certain circumstances.
More specifically, if a captain must jettison or destroy some of the cargo aboard his or her ship in order to secure the safety of the vessel, the crew, and the remaining cargo, it does not matter who the damaged or destroyed cargo belonged to specifically. Instead, everyone involved with the ship would pay for the losses equally.
For example, if a vessel must jettison cargo to prevent capsizing, it is important that the crew works immediately and quickly to throw cargo overboard in order to protect the ship, save the crew, and save the remaining cargo. They should not need to stop and consider whose cargo they are jettisoning. Because the jettisoned cargo saved the remaining cargo as well as the ship, it is sensible that all cargo owners make up for the lost cargo equally.
Is there ever a time when general average is not used?
There are some cases in which general average is not used. For example, if someone is directly at fault for the damaged or lost cargo, they may be held fully responsible for the expenses in some cases. In addition, if an accident at sea or a delay causes an indirect loss, the law of general average is not used. Finally, general average is not used if the ship is never in direct peril or if the loss of the cargo does not save the ship from peril.
Do you have a question about a general average claim or another maritime claim involving lost or damaged cargo? Call the Voss Law Firm today to speak with one of our attorneys: 888-614-7730.
How does the issue of cargo accumulation affect marine insurance?
Cargo accumulation is a new trend in the shipping industry. Ships are getting bigger, storage facilities are getting bigger, and more containers are being moved and kept in fewer places. Although cargo accumulation can mean saving money in some ways, it is also leading to catastrophic losses when something goes wrong. A damaged ship, a fire, or a delayed shipment could mean the loss of a significant amount of cargo.
When shipping large amounts of cargo at one time, shippers are putting lots of eggs in one basket. When a loss event takes place, companies stand to lose millions in one fell swoop.
While many companies believe that their marine insurance protects them from cargo losses, not everyone understands that cargo accumulation has taken place only in recent years. Insurance coverage has not grown as quickly as the boats have. If a catastrophe takes out a large amount of cargo, it is possible that your insurance policy won’t cover 100 percent of your losses.
How can you protect against these issues? Prevention comes in two different strategies. First, be sure that you have enough insurance coverage for the business you are doing. Although it may be painful to pay higher premiums, protecting against a large loss event is vital. Secondly, consider the dangers that come with cargo accumulation: are you taking too many risks with your cargo? Are you trying to move or store too much at once?
Marine insurance is only getting more complex as the shipping industry grows and changes. Having a knowledgeable, experienced marine insurance attorney at your side could greatly help when you need to understand your policy or file a claim. To speak with a lawyer at the Voss Law Firm today, call our team and schedule a free, private meeting: 888-614-7730.
Can I use the “Act of God” COGSA defense? Related Links:
When cargo is damaged or lost during transit, it is critical to determine who was at fault for the incident. The Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, also known as COGSA, outlines 17 different reasons that the vessel owner is not liable for damaged cargo. One of those reasons is an “Act of God”—but what exactly is considered an Act of God? When can you use that defense after a lost or damaged cargo incident?
According to law, an Act of God is considered "an accident that is due directly and exclusively to natural causes without human intervention and which no amount of foresight or care reasonably exercised could have prevented. The accident must be one occasioned by the violence of nature, and all human agency is to be excluded from creating or entering into the cause."
In other words, an Act of God could be an earthquake, hurricane, or other severe storm. Extreme conditions, such as high winds and high seas may also be considered an Act of God.
However, it is important to understand that even if the cargo was destroyed, damaged, or lost in a severe storm, the vessel owner may still be liable if a shipper can prove negligence. For example, if the vessel operator steered the ship into a storm after being warned of the weather event, the vessel operator may be found negligent.
It can be difficult to know if the weather event that affected your cargo is considered an Act of God under the law. Consult with a marine insurance claim attorney at Voss Law Firm to better understand your case and your liability. Call today to schedule an appointment: 888-614-7730.
A fire broke out on our vessel and the cargo was damaged. Who is at fault according to the COGSA Act? Related Links:
The Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) is a document that carefully outlines the liability of shippers carrying goods across the ocean. It states that “neither the carrier nor the ship shall be responsible for loss or damage arising from… fire, unless caused by the actual fault or privity of the carrier.” But what does that mean in plain English?
In general, the shipper and the ship are not responsible for lost or damaged cargo in the event of a fire. However, the liability of the shipper depends on what the cause of the fire was. For example, if the fire was caused directly due to the negligent actions (or inaction) of the shipper, the shipper may be responsible for the destroyed cargo. But if the fire incident was not due to the shipper’s error, the shipper cannot be held responsible for the damage. In other words, you must investigate the cause of the fire before determining liability.
As you can see, whether or not a shipper is liable for cargo destroyed in a vessel fire varies on a case-by-case basis. Perhaps the best way to ascertain who was at fault for the loss or damage of a ship’s cargo due to fire is to speak with a marine insurance claim attorney. At the Voss Law Firm, our knowledgeable and experienced lawyers can help you better understand your shipping incident by examining evidence as well as the COGSA Act defenses. To get your questions answered today, call to schedule a free, confidential appointment: 888-614-7730.
What is a bill of lading, as it relates to marine insurance and the COGSA defenses?
If you are dealing with a marine insurance claim, the subject of a bill of lading may have come up. A bill of lading is issued by carriers who use any and all modes of transportation, not just those that transport goods by sea. It is a document that serves as a confirmation of the receipt of goods on the part of the master or owner. It is the proof of shipment that includes the details of where everything came from, where it needs to go, and who is responsible for sending and receiving. Additionally, it serves as the proof of a contractual obligation on the part of both parties. The bill of lading also gives the title of the goods to the consignee on the bill. If anything happens to the cargo during shipment, the bill of lading may be extremely helpful in proving fault, if any.
Any bill of lading for transportation of goods by sea to and from U.S. ports in foreign trade must include a “clause paramount.” The clause paramount states which country’s legislation is invoked for the shipment. Each country has its own maritime laws. When goods are shipped internationally, it is important to which laws are being followed. The clause paramount for U.S. shipments can use the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA).
One thing is for certain: dealing with a marine insurance claim is no easy task. There are many laws and regulations you may not be aware of that can result in a big headache, and even a denied claim. If you have suffered a loss at sea, contact the Texas marine insurance litigation attorneys at The Voss Law Firm, P.C. at 888-614-7730. You can also download a free copy of our book, Your Basic Guide to Marine Insurance.
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.