Homeowners insurance is supposed to help you pay for property damage and injuries that occur at your home. Unfortunately, insurance companies deny many homeowners’ insurance claims. When an insurance company denies a homeowners’ insurance claim, different legal issues may arise, including breach of contract and bad faith. Your damages and compensation may vary, depending on your claim. If your claim has been denied, you should seriously consider hiring an experienced lawyer to help you appeal the insurance company’s decision.
Read Your Homeowners’ Insurance Policy
Homeowners’ insurance is a contract between you and the insurance company. Before you file a lawsuit, it is important to understand the terms of this contract. Request a copy of your complete policy, which explains:
- What losses are covered,
- Any exceptions that apply,
- How losses are compensated (replacement cost vs. actual value),
- The amount of your deductible, and
- Whether you must arbitrate disputed claims.
While most homeowners’ insurance policies include coverage for property damage and liability, they also include many exceptions and limitations. For example, most policies do not cover flood damage. If you need help understand your policy, contact an insurance claim lawyer.
Administrative Insurance Appeals
Many insurance policies allow internal or administrative appeals. In an administrative appeal, the insurance company reassesses its denial and any additional evidence you provide. Sometimes, the insurance company will reverse its initial denial and pay your claim. However, many administrative appeals are denied. Alternatively, the insurance company may offer a settlement to resolve your dispute. (Before you accept a settlement, consult with a lawyer. Once a claim is settled, it may be impossible to file a lawsuit for additional compensation.)
Filing a Homeowners’ Insurance Lawsuit
If your administrative appeal with the insurance company is denied, you can file a civil lawsuit. To initiate a lawsuit, you must file a complaint with the courts and notify the insurance company of your lawsuit. The insurance company must respond to your complaint or risk a default judgment. Next, you and the insurance company will participate in a discovery process—exchanging information and participating in depositions. If you cannot settle your dispute, a judge or jury will decide your case. This can be a lengthy and complicated process.
Insurance and contract law varies from state to state. Depending on where you live, different filing deadlines and rules will apply. If your homeowners’ insurance claim is denied, consider contacting a lawyer immediately. A lawyer can evaluate your claim and make sure that you file a timely and persuasive case against the insurance company.
Hiring an Insurance Claim Lawyer
Before you resolve a homeowners’ insurance dispute, consider speaking with a lawyer. An insurance claim requires a detailed analysis of your policy, the circumstances of your claim, and the law. Without legal representation, you may make costly mistakes or undervalue your claim. An experienced insurance claim lawyer can ensure that your rights are protected and your settlement is appropriate.
Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?
If you need to find the right business lawyer, then contact one near you to get the help you need. Be sure to bring any correspondence from the insurance company and your policy documents. This information will help the lawyer understand your claim and appeal rights.