October 10, 2020 will mark the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Michael. Sadly, many victims are still waiting on payment in full from their insurance companies for damage Hurricane Michael caused to their home. How are insurance companies able to do this? By pulling a few tricks which we are sharing here. What can you do about it? Get help! By knowing the games they play and how to respond, we have helped many policyholders finally get paid in full. Many times we have seen insurance companies refuse to consider anything but their own self-serving, low-ball estimates. They short policyholders by sending only a fraction of what it will cost to repair. Or, they try to stall so long folks finally give in and just take whatever they can.
We don't let insurance companies get away with this.
We have been able to help many Hurricane Michael victims by bringing in experienced adjusters to prepare a much more accurate estimate. We demand payment in full or we file suit against the insurance company. Sometimes this is the only threat they will respond to, and we're not at all hesitant to take this step to make sure you are treated fairly. Even further, when the insurance company does finally pay in full, after years of mistreating their own policyholder, we file a second action against them for the bad faith manner in which they treated our client. We do not give up, and neither should you. If you feel an insurance company is using some of these under-handed strategies to short-change you, contact us for a free, no-cost, no-obligation insurance claim review.
1. Relying on Xactimate Over Reality
Xactimate is a computer software program most insurance companies use to calculate the cost to repair or rebuild damaged structures. The unit prices in Xactimate, however, are not based on any independent outside source (like exchange rates for foreign currency). They are changed and lowered internally based on whatever values Xactimate's predominant customer—insurance carriers—prefer. Often the costs in Xactimate to rebuild or repair are a far cry from reality and do not account for the well-known, often-exponential increase in construction costs that always accompanies an influx in the need for construction services after a storm. Virtually every Xactimate estimate we have received from an insurance company has been shown by experienced appraisers and public adjusters to contain numerous flaws, omit large portions of covered damages, and use values that don't comport with reality.
What do we do in response? We bring in our own experienced adjusters and experts to prepare a competing estimate that truly captures the full extent of your damage and the true cost to completely rebuild or repair. We do this at no cost to you unless and until we recover payment in full from the insurance company. If your insurance company is relying on an Xactimate estimate to determine your damages and refusing to consider anything else, contact us for a free, no-cost, no-obligation consultation so we can try to help you as we have helped many Hurricane Michael victims in the same position. The insurance company's self-serving, low-ball estimate should not be the last word. You deserve someone fighting for your full recovery.
2. Using Adjusters With No or Very Little Construction Experience
Many adjusters who adjust storm damage and hurricane claims for insurance companies have little to no actual construction experience. They may take a classes or get certifications, but their “adjuster training” is mainly designed to familiarize them with insurance terminology and concepts and policy provisions. They are not required to have any actual construction experience or any technical experience on how to determine causation (i.e., whether your roof caved due to deteriorating beams or wind from a storm). They are very poorly trained, and not incredibly motivated, to truly sift through every crack and leak in your home and determine the cause and true cost to repair which often makes their estimate highly inaccurate and unreliable.
What do we do to help? We bring in professionals who have decades of experience in the construction industry and in estimating the cost to repair. Unlike the insurance company's adjusters, they are impartial, highly-trained, and motivated to find all damage possible and fully analyze your true cost to repair. Again, we do this at no cost to you unless and until we recover payment in full from the insurance company. You deserve a team of skilled professionals making sure the insurance company treats you fairly.
3. Blaming the Policyholder for Throwing Damaged Items Away
This is one of the worst tricks we have seen insurance companies pull. In several cases, we have seen the insurance company deny coverage for personal property (think clothes, linens, kitchenware) where the policyholder—not knowing the insurance company would claim a desire to look at every item—threw all of those wet, dirty, moldy items away. Insurance companies use this as a “gotchya” to try and then claim those items weren't as damaged as you claim or were not damaged at all. They have also used this tactic to say you hindered their ability to investigate because you didn't maintain the property in the damaged condition it was in after the storm, when they also know you have a duty under the policy to mitigate your damages (meaning, tarp holes in windows or the roof, or remove items that will cause further damage, like wet carpet increasing the growth of mold). The insurance companies are creating a lose-lose situation for the policyholder where no matter what action you take, your insurance carrier will claim you hindered their investigation or you didn't fulfill your obligations under the policy. You're denied if you do, denied if you don't.
What do we do to protect you in this situation? The great news about hiring an experienced insurance law team like ours is your problems become our problems. What is the right move to make and how will the insurance company try to use your own actions against you is something you will no longer have to worry about because it becomes our obligation. We take over all communications with the insurance company on your behalf and advise you throughout the entire process what actions you should take to protect your interests and make sure the insurance company isn't setting traps you are not aware of. This leaves you free to focus on your recovery and getting your life back together while a team of skilled professionals takes on all of the work and upfront cost it requires to fight for your claim. If you are unsure what actions to take or fear an insurance company is not giving it to you straight, contact us for a free, no-cost, no-obligation consultation.
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