The February winter storm caused significant damage and heartache throughout the State of Texas. The recovery process has not been easy for many. The winter storm left many homes and businesses substantially damaged and insurers have failed to pick up the void.
If you have still not received the insurance settlement you deserve, call the attorneys at Johns Law Group at (866) 970-0977 for a free claim review.
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH WINTER STORM CLAIMS
The Texas winter storm came as a surprise. Although Texas does experience winter weather, the February winter storm impacted the entire state and caused significant stress on an electrical grid not prepared for such an extensive freeze. Many parts of the state experienced rolling blackouts and significant power outages. Sadly, there were a number of fatalities throughout the state as a result of the weather.
Property damage caused by the winter storm has been estimated to exceed $130 billion dollars. The most common property damage sustained from the winter storm was burst pipes and subsequent water and ice damage.
Burst water pipes can cause extensive damage. Many of our clients have had significant problems with mold damage that impacted large sections of the property. Unfortunately, many insurance adjusters have fought to pay fair compensation to fully repair the water and mold damage that impacted so many Texan’s homes and businesses.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIM?
There are two potential deadlines you need to be aware of related to your claim. The first is the deadline to submit your property damage claim to your insurance company. This includes any supplemental claims that you need to make. It is not uncommon for property owners to receive a partial payment from their insurance company to only realize the amount did not cover the true cost to repair your damage. If you have additional amounts to claim, do it as quickly as possible. Do not wait and review your insurance policy to understand the timelines for seeking a supplemental claim.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A LAWSUIT?
In Texas, you have up to two years from the date the damage to file a lawsuit against your insurance company. This is to claim damage for money owed for damage covered by your insurance policy as well as any interest, bad faith, or attorney’s fees claims. If you miss this deadline, and file your lawsuit late, it will probably be dismissed by the court.
Sometimes people will hold off on calling an attorney because they think their claim will eventually settle. Don’t be a victim of delay. If your insurance company has refused to pay fair value on your claim, or has wrongfully delayed, denied, or underpaid your claim, contact us for a free consultation. We would be more than happy to discuss your legal options.
COMMON INSURANCE COMPANY TACTICS
Insurance companies are in a conflicted position with their customers. On the one hand, they hold a position of public trust in that they are paid premiums with the expectation to pay valid claims promptly in accordance with the law. The law requires that undisputed amounts owed by an insurance company to be paid promptly. On the other hand, insurance companies are responsible to their shareholders who they have a legal obligation to maximize profits for. While we have laws that try to minimize harm to policyholders, the reality is most people do not fight back when they have been underpaid by the insurance company.
Some of the common business practices used by big insurance companies to gain leverage on its customers include:
- Shuffling customers between many adjusters.
- Refusing to send qualified personnel out to inspect the property.
- Neglecting to return phone calls, emails, and letters.
- Informing policyholders that an exclusion or limitation applies when it does not.
- Refusing to respond to new information provided by the policyholder.
- Refusing to reinspect or reconsider a past denial.
- Significantly underpaying or denying valid claims.
- Raising exclusions or limited endorsements improperly.
The insurance industry understands that most people will not fight back. They take advantage of this reality by engaging in business practices that often frustrate or intimidate policyholders.
How To Address Delayed, Denied, and Underpaid Claims?
If your claim has been denied, demand that the insurance company provide you with a written explanation that informs you have the specific part of the policy that was used for the denial. When you communicate with the insurance company about the denial, be very specific. Ask for the specific reasoning for the denial. If the adjuster does not answer your question, keep asking. You have to be persistent. If the adjuster refuses, that is a fact you can use in a lawsuit down the line.
It is important to remember that an insurance company may sometimes only deny a portion of the claim. For example, the insurance company may believe that certain work that your contractor believes is necessary is not related to your claim. It is important to read the insurance company’s estimate thoroughly. If you do not understand if everything that you claimed is covered, get a detailed written explanation from the adjuster.
In addition, do not accept the reasoning for the insurance company’s partial denial as being true. Insurance companies often apply exlcusions and endorsements improperly. If any part of claim is denied, consult with an attorney.
Another common problem is underpaid insurance claims. It is more common for an insurance adjuster to low ball your insurance claim then it is to deny it completely. Insurance adjusters will often omit damaged items from their report, underprice the cost of repair, and underscope legitimate damage. All of these together may result in you being paid a small fraction of the amount owed to you.
It is not uncommon for us to recover multiple times more than the insurance company’s original offer. You need to make the law work on your side and work with experts who understand how to present a disputed insurance claim.
Insurance adjusters often delay claims. True, you may receive an initial check following your loss. Too often, the initial payment is nowhere near the cost to make repairs. However, once you demand a supplemental payment, the adjusting process can often creep along for months with little to show. Insurance companies are notorious for being understaffed and unable to adequately handle the volume of claims given to an adjuster. They also often will not promptly reinspect properties and delay sending suitable experts to a property to estimate damages. All of this is calculated to frustrating the policyholder so he or she will accept less.
SHOULD I HIRE AN ATTORNEY?
The decision to hire an attorney is personal. While most property and business owners are capable of initiating the claim process, legal assistance may be necessary if your claim has been denied, delayed, or underpaid.
Too many people simply refuse to fight back when their claim has not been handled properly. However, the law is on your side. Insurance companies that have acted in bad faith may be subject to pentalties and owe you attorney’s fees.
The attorneys at MyInsuranceCase focus on representing policyholders and have assisted hundreds of clients in recovering additional compensation on their denied, delayed, or underpaid insurance claims.
Call us today at (866) 970-0977 for a free claim review with one of our winter storm property damage attorneys.