Natural Disaster Insurance Disputes
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What Qualifies as a ?Natural Disaster??
A natural disaster is an event that causes property damage due to natural causes beyond one’s control. These usually involve extreme conditions such as abnormal weather patterns or earthquakes. Because natural disasters are unpredictable and difficult to measure, it can be somewhat challenging to recover losses for property damage. Natural disasters are also known as “Acts of God”.
The following types of events and occurrences are usually classified as “natural disasters” in most insurance policies:
- Severe storms
- Lightning strikes
- Tornados and hurricanes
What Types of Losses can I Claim for Damages Caused by Natural Disasters?
Depending on your coverage, you may be able to recover losses associated with the following aspects of property:
- Walls and Insulation: Damage to walls caused by winds or earthquakes is sometimes covered.
- Power and electricity: It is sometimes possible to recover costs associated with electrical repairs.
- Carpets: Floods and other water-related events can cause serious damage to carpets.
- Asbestos: Natural disasters may agitate existing asbestos in ceilings and walls. You may be able to recover costs associated with asbestos removal.
- Mold damage: Mold commonly results from many natural disasters; you may be able to recover expenses for mold removal treatments.
- Additional Expenses: If the disaster required you to move out of your home, you may be able to recover temporary expenses such as hotel lodging.
Again, the extent of damages you can recover will depend largely on the type of agreement you have with your insurance provider. Many policies don’t cover all of the damages and costs listed above.
What is a “Bad Faith” Insurance Lawsuit?
You can’t really sue your insurance company simply because they don’t cover losses caused by natural disasters. As with any contract, parties enter into insurance policies with the full understanding of the coverage terms, and must consent to these terms in the policy agreement.
On the other hand, it may be possible to sue your insurance company through a “bad faith” lawsuit. A bad faith insurance claim can be filed when the insurance company denies you policy benefits without just cause.
All insurance companies have a basic duty to act in good faith when dealing with clients. For example, if the insurance company acts fraudulently in response to your natural disaster claim, it could form the basis for a bad faith insurance lawsuit.
If you can prove that an insurance company acted in bad faith when processing your natural disaster claim, you may be able to recover the amount that should have been paid to you in the claim. You may also be able to recover attorney’s fees and court costs.
Should I Hire an Attorney for a Dispute over Natural Disaster Insurance?
When dealing with the effects of a natural disaster, you may wish to hire a lawyer for advice and assistance. It can be especially complicated when working with an insurance company; however, an attorney can help you file a claim and ensure that your rights are not being violated. Also, if a lawsuit becomes necessary, a lawyer can help support your claim in a court of law.
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Last Modified: 01-28-2014 12:25 PM PST
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