Unfortunately, receiving the compensation you are due after your property has been damaged or destroyed is not always a simple process. Instead, the insurance company will often refuse to pay what the claim is worth. Because of this, when your property has been damaged or destroyed, and you file a claim under your insurance policy, there are certain things our Miami property insurance lawyer states you should refrain from doing to prevent having a negative impact on the results of your claim.
#1 Do Not Delay Reporting Your Damage
All insurance policies state in their terms a time limit for reporting damage to your property. To ensure you do not miss any deadlines, you should report the damage as soon as possible after it occurs.
#2 Do Not Forget to Include All Damages In Your Proof of Loss
The Proof of Loss is a document that you, the policyholder, complete and turn into the insurance agency. Typically, once the insurance requests the Proof of Loss, you have up to 60 days to complete it. It will be used by your insurance company in calculating the amount you are owed under your claim. You should take care while filling out this form to ensure it is truthful, accurate, timely filed, and contains accurate estimates.
#3 Do Not Do Your Own Repairs
It is tempting when your property is damaged to have it repaired as quickly as possible. In some cases, policyholders make the repairs on their own and expect reimbursement from the insurance company. In other cases, the policyholder hires a contractor to make the repairs without first consulting with the insurance company, then expects the insurance company to pay the contractor. This is not how the process works, and the insurance company is under no obligation to pay for unauthorized repairs. Always reach a written agreement with the insurance company before repairs are made. An exception to this rule is when it is necessary to make repairs to prevent further damage, or injuries to others, from occurring. This is known as “loss mitigation” and may be required by the terms of your policy. Save all receipts of any necessary work that must be completed so you may be reimbursed.
#4 Do Not Forget About the “ALE” Portion of Your Policy
Most insurance policies contain an Additional Living Expense (ALE) provision. ALE comes into play when a policyholder’s property has been damaged to the point they are no longer able to use the property for its intended purpose. For example, if your home was flooded and is no longer habitable, you may be able to exercise the ALE part of your policy which allows you to seek reimbursement for expenses you have incurred due to the damage. To be clear from the beginning regarding what is covered under your ALE, refer to your policy or ask your insurance company for a list of items that are covered. Typically, a policyholder may seek reimbursement for the following:
- Rent or hotel expenses
- Laundromat expenses
- Extra mileage put on your vehicle due to having to drive further to work, school, etc..
- Fees incurred setting up house in your rental home, such as having the electricity turned on
- Costs associated with having your pet boarded
- Costs associated with moving from rental property to repaired (or new) home
#5 Do Not Throw Away Anything
Often after property has been damaged, there is debris and other items that you may wish to dispose of. Instead, it is in your best interest to hold onto these items, even when they appear to be damaged beyond repair. They may be needed at a later date by your Miami property insurance lawyer to prove the amount of damage your property sustained.
#6 Do Not Accept the First Settlement Offer
Many insurance companies will try to lowball you with a low initial offer of settlement. Do not agree to this amount as you have the right to negotiate for a fair settlement.
#7 Do Not Be Afraid of Hiring Your Own Contractors
Do not assume you must use the contractors or other experts the insurance company suggests. You have the right to hire any licensed, bonded contractor or other experts to work on your property.
#8 Do Not Post About Your Damages or Claim on Social Media
Social media can be a very useful tool in our daily lives, but it can also be used against us. Representatives from the insurance company have been known to seek out policyholders’ social media accounts to find out if they contain any information that conflicts with the claim they have filed. In particular, they are looking for:
- An admittance of fault
- Old photographs that show pre-existing damage
- Proof that you failed to mitigate your loss
- Proof that your property is not a complete loss
- Proof that the damage to your property is not as bad as you claim
#9 Do Not Give a Statement to the Insurance Company Representative
At some point after filing your claim, it is typical that a representative from the insurance company or their attorney will contact you and request that you make a statement about the damage. It is in your best interest to decline to make any statement, and instead, refer them to your Miami property insurance attorney.
#10 Do Not Represent Yourself – Hire a Miami Property Insurance Lawyer
Remember that the insurance company has scores of attorneys in its employ whose purpose it is to keep the amount the insurance pays out for claims as low as possible. To ensure that your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you are owed under your claim, you will likely need the help of an experienced Miami property insurance lawyer. At Ver Ploeg & Marino, our attorneys focus their practice on assisting policyholders in obtaining the monies they are due, and we have decades of experience. Contact our firm to schedule a consultation.Share