How to Dispute an Insurance Claim Denial or Settlement Offer
When your property is damaged or destroyed, it can feel as though your safe place, your home, is no longer safe. You may feel angry, upset, helpless, and overwhelmed. And when you file a claim against your homeowners insurance policy and your insurance company denies your claim or offers significantly less than the cost of the repairs or replacement, it can feel like they’re working against you rather than supporting you.
Good news: you’re still in control. You do not have to accept the insurance company’s response. As a policyholder, you have the right to dispute your insurer over a denial or underpayment of your insurance claim.
Save time and aggravation by following these simple steps:
Step 1: Know Why Your Insurance Claim Was Denied or Underpaid
If you don’t understand why your claim was denied or underpaid, talk to your insurance adjuster or representative directly. If the denial cites an exclusion or uses specific language that you don’t understand, ask the person to point out the section in your policy and explain in clear language what it means.
The same holds true for underpayment. Sometimes an adjuster will undervalue a replacement or repair. In other cases, the dispute is over the extent of the damage. Once you understand the reason for the underpayment you can then submit additional estimates or request an independent appraisal.
As mentioned in, “9 Insider Tips for Filing an Insurance Claim After a Disaster”, document all communications. If there is no record, it didn’t happen. Keep a log of every conversation you have with your insurance representative, desk adjuster, field adjuster, etc.; include dates, times of day, names and what was said.
Step 2: Appeal Your Denied or Underpaid Settlement
You have the right to appeal an insurance claim denial or settlement offer. And, your insurance company has a responsibility to pay – after your deductible has been met – an amount that will allow you to restore your home to its original condition.
Be sure to submit your detailed letter along with pictures and any additional estimates and/or documentation within the timeline specified.
Step 3: When to Cash Insurance Checks
Clients worry that if they cash any insurance checks they are agreeing to settle for that amount. As long as you did not sign a release, you are free to cash the check, even when there is language on the back of the check warning you that cashing the check acts as a full and final settlement of the claim.
Step 4: Contact an Insurance Attorney
An insurance attorney can help you with all aspects of your appeal. And, if need be, The Desir Insurance Law Firm can even file a lawsuit to get you the settlement you deserve.
Florida law allows for the recovery of attorney’s fees and costs from your insurance company, if you prevail in a lawsuit. At Desir Law Firm, even if we do not prevail, you will not owe money to an attorney since our cases are taken on a contingency basis. It is truly a win-win situation to hire an insurance attorney to dispute a partial or complete insurance denial or partial payments.
The information provided here is intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal advice.