Why Would You Go It Alone?
In an ideal world, when a policyholder suffers damage to their property they will:
- file a claim
- work with their insurer to figure out the cost of repairs
- get paid a fair settlement amount as specified by their policy so they can fix their property.
In the real world, this is not always the way things go. Often times policyholders are offered a settlement which is a fraction of what it will take to properly fix the damage, and in many cases are told by their insurer that they will not cover the damage.
When a policyholder has exhausted the other avenues available to resolve this dispute but is still not satisfied, they have one last line of defense. They can retain an insurance claim attorney to fight for their rights and attempt to obtain a full and fair settlement.
Why would a homeowner want to retain an attorney rather than fighting the insurance company themselves? The short answer is that going up against an insurer is akin to taking the role of the Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae. It is a romantic notion to imagine that one lone homeowner can defeat the multi-headed hydra that is their insurer. But the reality is that going it alone puts you in unfamiliar waters where the deck is stacked against you.
No matter what the reason is for the dispute, it is never easy for any single person to take on an institution, especially one which is well funded and has a zealous legal team on retainer. You will need to deal with a mountain of paperwork containing an untold number of instances of insurance industry jargon such as subrogation (defined here, in case you are curious ), and will have to spend a vast amount of your time and effort if you have any hope of prevailing.
This long and lonely road a homeowner would have to walk alone, and without the guidance of an attorney. Contrast this with the insurance company, who has one or more offices chock full of experienced staff backed with ample resources and support. Unless you have a working and in depth knowledge of the insurance industry, you could be fighting a losing battle.
Your insurance attorney can help you with:
- Expediting the process: Insurance companies might knowingly delay the processing of your claim to get you impatient, in the hopes that this will make you more likely to agree to take a lowball-settlement amount, or even drop the claim entirely. If you have an attorney, then they can use countermeasures to compel the insurer to act in a more timely fashion. You would be surprised how often the threat of litigation will cause stalled cases to be processed and sometimes even expedited.
- Appealing denials: Regardless of how valid a claim might be, we have seen cases where an insurance company denied valid claims just because they felt they could get away with it. As a homeowner, it would be hard to even know whether your claim is even valid, as you are probably not a risk and insurance expert. As attorneys, when we work with clients in this position we are able to step in and launch a legal challenge to the denial through the appeals process or a lawsuit.
- Negotiating settlements: Saul Alinsky, a political theorist, said, “No issue can be negotiated unless you first have the clout to compel negotiation.” If you believe you have the skills, knowledge, or clout necessary then all we can say is good luck. But for those people who place value on having an experienced advocate fighting for their rights during the negotiation process, an attorney is an invaluable asset. They will work to make sure you avoid agreeing to a lowball settlement and will fight tooth and nail to get you the amount you really deserve.
While handling your insurance claim dispute yourself is definitely an option, there is really no situation where a policyholder gains an advantage by not taking advantage of professional advice from an attorney versed in insurance law.
When we have asked clients who had previously been trying to fight their claims by themselves why they did not retain an attorney, almost all of them responded by saying that they thought it would be too expensive and that they did not have the money to hire a lawyer.
Our attorneys will take on an insurance claim dispute on a contingency basis. This means that a policyholder can hire an attorney, have them work to get them a full and fair settlement, and never have to pay that attorney a dime out of pocket until the case is resolved. If you are having a dispute with your insurer, or feel that the offer you receive is less than what you deserve, contact our firm for a free claim consultation.