If you have ever filed a claim with your homeowners insurance company and believed that you were not adequately compensated—or, if you’ve filed a claim and had it outright denied—you are not alone. Many policyholders struggle to get the level of compensation they hope for from their insurance company and many are caught by surprise when their claim is denied altogether.
Given that you pay your premiums each month, you naturally expect your claims to be paid, and for your insurance company to be there for you during your hour of need. However, from the standpoint of the insurance company, whose ultimate goal is to make money, paying as little as possible is in their best interests.
That does not mean you are automatically lowballed every time you submit a claim. It just means that you may have to negotiate for some time with your insurance company to get the best possible outcome. Indeed, just because your claim is denied or you feel like it has been undervalued, that does not mean it is the end of the line. For instance, you can hire a lawyer and dispute a denial to get the needed compensation.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
If you are not satisfied with how your claim was handled, reach out to the insurance company and ask them to explain their offer or why they denied your claim. It is important to ask the company to show you the policy language upon which they base their denial. After that, you can ask them to reconsider their decision or even request a new insurance adjuster. Before you do that, review the initial claim you submitted and look for ways to improve it.
Basically, the more evidence of damage you can provide, the better. Did you file your initial claim with just a single photo of the damaged area? Some additional photos and/or videos may help strengthen your claim, allowing the insurance company a better sense of the damage done. Also, if you have received repair or replacement estimates or have receipts from work already completed, include those in your updated claim.
Once you have gathered this new evidence, contact your insurance representative and let them know that you want to dispute the denial. Remember that it was an adjuster—not the agent you are talking to—who made the decision to underpay or deny your claim. Be polite, kind, and simply ask them to walk you through the process of disputing the claim denial.
CONSIDER AN APPRAISAL
If you are still not satisfied with where things stand, another option you have available to you is contacting an independent appraiser. This professional is unbiased, not affiliated with the insurance company, and can review your claim and provide you with an estimate of what it is going to cost to get everything repaired.
There are basically two outcomes possible here. One is that the independent appraisal confirms what your insurance company told you; if that’s the case, you may need to admit that your insurance company handled things fairly. The other is that the appraiser confirms your instinct, and you can use that as leverage in your claim denial dispute.
HIRING AN ATTORNEY
If the dispute process fails you, you can always hire an attorney and file a lawsuit. Seek a local firm with ample experience in insurance law. If you are in the Houston area, you can contact McLaurin Law. We have substantial experience helping homeowners succeed on their insurance claims. We can consult with you on any issues you are having with your homeowners insurance carrier, and we can represent you in a lawsuit if need be. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.
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Jason McLaurin is a founding member of McLaurin Law. He has over a decade of experience representing clients at trial, arbitration, and mediation in matters concerning insurance policyholder recovery disputes, complex commercial litigation, and catastrophic personal injury claims. He also represents businesses as outside general counsel for clients in a variety of industries including construction, oil and gas, maritime, technology, and professional services. He is licensed and handles matters in both Texas and Louisiana.