Do I Need an Attorney for a Home Insurance Claim?
Situations may arise where you and your insurance carrier may find yourselves at a standstill over a home insurance claim settlement.
The reasons could range from a claim denial, a low settlement value, or a conflict on policy coverage. Finding yourself in this type of precarious situation and unable to agree on a home insurance settlement may warrant a discussion with a home insurance lawyer that knows property insurance law.
When To File a Home Insurance Lawsuit
File a home insurance lawsuit before your claim is Settled.
If you agree to a settlement with your home insurance insurer, then you cannot file a lawsuit after the settlement.
Typically, as part of the claim settlement process, your insurance carrier will want you to sign a home insurance settlement agreement that prevents you from suing them for the settled claim and frees them from making any additional payments on that claim.
This condition does not apply to future claims that are an entirely separate situation from the current, settled claim.
In a few distinct situations, you could bring legal action against your insurer after a settlement has been reached, but those situations are directly related to errors or misinterpretations of the settlement language or claims process itself.
There are instances where the settlement document is written incorrectly and doesn’t put limitations on your legal options, but this is highly unlikely.
Settlement language may also limit your legal options to arbitration. If you find yourself at an impasse with the insurance company, it would be to your benefit to have an attorney review any settlement documents and discuss what options, if any are available to you.
Why Move Forward with a Home Insurance Lawsuit
Finding yourself in the midst of a home insurance claim with no signs of a settlement discussion, the possibility of legal action is still an option for you.
The following situations where you feel you are not being treated fairly may be reasons to file a lawsuit:
- Maybe your insurance carrier denied coverage completely, advising you that no damages will be paid under your home insurance policy. This is why it is essential to understand what your policy covers before purchasing.
- Perhaps you and the insurance adjuster are so far apart on what you feel the home insurance settlement should be, that the possibility of an agreement seems unimaginable.
- Maybe it is a policy limit situation where you have reached your limits on your home insurance coverage, and you find there was an additional coverage option to extend your limits available through the insurance company, but your agent did not offer it.
Please keep in mind that we think that hiring an attorney should be a last resort. If you feel that you are having difficulties resolving a claim situation, give us a call we will be happy to offer advice on what options are available to you.
I Contacted a Home Insurance Attorney: Now what?
Every claim situation is different, but one thing remains the same. Coverage issues and negotiating a claim’s value with the insurance company is usually beyond the average homeowner’s skill set. This is where hiring an attorney that has experience in property insurance law can prove beneficial. Coverage issues and policy language can be complicated to understand.
The tiniest portion of your home insurance claim may make the entire claim excluded from coverage. You may choose to contact an attorney if you do not understand why your claim was not covered or if you do not agree on the value of the claim. During your home insurance claim process, taking the following steps will help with any discrepancies or disagreements:
- Take good notes– always note whom you talked to and the time. Summarize what was discussed in your notes.
- Have good picture documentation-Be sure to take pictures of the damage and all repairs in progress. Any and all documentation will help your attorney with his case when filing a lawsuit.
- After hiring an attorney let them communicate with the insurance company-Make sure once you have retained the assistance of an attorney that you discontinue all communications with any insurance company representative. The prevents you from saying anything that may jeopardize your lawsuit.
Your lawsuit will be filed by your attorney based on the homeowner’s insurance laws in your state. Filing a lawsuit can put pressure on your home insurance carrier to agree to a home insurance settlement.
In some situations your home insurance carrier may see that you are serious about your claim, have attorney representation, and a strong case against them, thus prompting them to be more inclined to work towards a fair settlement.
Remember contacting a lawyer should be a last resort after all other options are exhausted. A lawsuit is a huge undertaking, costs a lot of money, and should be taken seriously. You should not file willy-nilly because you are upset with your adjuster or you have no real evidence to substantiate your claim against your home insurer.
However, if you do find yourself in a legitimate dispute over a home insurance settlement, be sure to consult with a home insurance lawyer that knows the property insurance law for your state.
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Last Updated on July 9, 2021 by Veronica Moss