Property insurance pays for financial losses related to the insured property. For example, if you purchase a property insurance policy to protect your house, and a tree falls on your house, your insurance company will pay for the damages (if this type of damage is covered under your policy).
What is Homeowner's Insurance?
The most common form of property insurance is homeowner's insurance. If you have a mortgage on your house you are usually required to carry homeowner's insurance. If you own your home and don't have a mortgage, you still should consider homeowner's insurance as it can protect you from property damage and liability.
Protection under a Homeowner's Insurance Policy
Homeowner's insurance offers two types of protection:
- Casualty: This protects the house itself and sometimes the property inside (personal belongings).
- Liability: This protects you from liability in case someone is injured on your property. Liability coverage is particularly important because the financial loss can be enormous. If somebody slips and falls on your property, you could be held liable for all of that person's medical bills and pain and suffering.
Does My Policy Protect against Fire, Storm, or Flood Damage?
There are many homeowner's insurance companies and they offer different types of coverage. You should research how much coverage you need and which company is best for you, because your coverage will vary based on the policy you purchase. Some policies will cover things like falling trees, rain or storm damage, fire, and other disasters. Some policies won't cover them. You should know exactly what your policy covers before you purchase it.
My Homeowner's Insurance Company Denied My Claim, What Should I Do?
The first thing you should do is making sure that your homeowner's insurance policy covers the type of damage claimed. If it doesn't, then there is nothing you can do. If you think that your policy does cover your property claim and your insurance company refuses to pay, then you should consider taking legal action against your property insurance company. Any lawsuit against your property insurance company may include a claim of bad faith.
What Can I Do if There is a Conflict with My Provider over the Interpretation of the Policy as to What Items Are Covered?
If you have a difference in opinion with your provider over certain provisions of your policy, you may have to go to court to resolve the dispute. In this case, the court has what are called rules of construction for reading insurance policies. These rules tend to favor the insured over the insurer since the insurer wrote the policy and has an advantage.
Where there is more than one reasonable way to interpret whether a provision grants coverage of a certain property interest, the court will choose the interpretation that most favors coverage rather than denial of coverage.
Where there is more than one way to interpret a provision talking about coverage exclusion, the court will choose the interpretation that most narrowly defines that exclusion.
Is There Any Regulatory Agency I Can Complain to if I Do Not Think a Claim Was Handled Fairly by My Provider?
Yes. State law regulates insurance company practices, and as such every state has a Department of Insurance to make sure providers are following the requirements the Department has created. If you feel your provider did not handle your claim properly, you can complain to your local Department of Insurance, who should then launch an investigation of the matter.
What is Property Insurance Discrimination?
Property insurance discrimination is the unequal treatment of people in obtaining property insurance without regard to legal rights or ability.
Insurance discrimination is manifested in two ways:
- Discrimination based on race, sex, or religion
- Redlining: which is a practice where insurance companies limit the availability of coverage to people in particular neighborhoods, usually to the detriment of minorities
What Rights Do I Have?
The federal law that protects you from being discriminated against when you apply for property insurance is the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The FHA prohibits discrimination in residential real-estate transactions based on national origin, race, sex, religion, handicaps, and familial status.
What Can I Do if I Have Been Discriminated Against?
A victim of property insurance discrimination has a number of options including:
- Reporting violations to the Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Consulting with an attorney about filing a claim under the FHA
- Legal enforcement by the Department of Justice
How Do I Prove that I Have Been Discriminated Against?
In order to state a claim under the Fair Housing Act, discrimination can be shown by one of two ways:
- By showing that the insurance company employed a policy that created affected people of different race, sex or religion differently
- By showing that the insurance company purposefully discriminated against the individual on account of his race, sex or religion
Do I Need an Attorney to Help Me with My Homeowner's Insurance Problem?
A dispute over property insurance or a casualty claim can sometime be complex. The dispute may involve a number of different legal concepts and conflicts. You will need to hire a business lawyer if you need assistance with an insurance claim or dispute