People purchase insurance to protect themselves and their assets. Sadly, following a devastating event such as a hurricane, policyholders can receive denial letters when they seek insurance benefits. If your hurricane insurance damage claim was recently denied, you have legal and contractual rights to fight for the benefits you are entitled to receive.
Work With An Experienced Insurance Law Firm
Insurance companies increase their profits by denying claims to avoid paying financial benefits. They do not care about the harm they inflict on vulnerable victims. At Tighe P.A., our top-rated property insurance lawyers routinely and successfully battle powerful insurance carriers to protect the rights of innocent homeowners affected by hurricanes in Florida as well as Texas and Louisiana. If you have a denied hurricane damage claim, contact our law firm today.
Reasons Why Insurance Companies Deny Hurricane Damage Claims
Insurance companies deny claims for hurricane damage including storm, wind, or roof damage for a variety of reasons. Their logic behind the denial could include everything from an incorrectly filed claim to unpaid premiums, lack of evidence, gaps in your coverage, or if you don’t take steps to prevent further damage. In more serious cases, insurance companies engage in bad faith practices.
Incorrectly filing your claim
Insurance companies process claims based on the documents prepared by policyholders. As such, you should have an insurance attorney review or prepare your forms before making a claim. Incorrect or improperly prepared forms are common reasons insurance companies deny claims.
Not paying your premium on time
Insurance is a contract. In exchange for coverage and benefits, you must pay monthly premiums. If you failed to pay your premium or were late with payments, your coverage may have lapsed. This lapse could give your insurance company grounds to deny your roof claim following a hurricane.
Lack of or inconsistent evidence
Another common reason hurricane damage claims are denied is due to a lack of sufficient evidence. Insurance companies sometimes argue hurricane damage is pre-existing damage. This argument can be defeated by presenting evidence such as pre- and post-storm photos demonstrating no previous damage.
Exclusions for particular types of damage
Before purchasing insurance, you should carefully review the coverage you select. Depending on the language of your insurance policy, you may have yet to purchase coverage for a particular type of damage. For example, many home insurance policies do not cover flood, wind, or hail damage, which must often be purchased separately.
Not taking reasonable steps to prevent further damage
Even if you have valid insurance, you must take steps to protect any assets you insure. Insurance companies often include this requirement in the language of the policy. If you fail to protect your assets or mitigate potential damage, it may give grounds for your insurance company to deny your claim.
Steps to Appeal Your Insurance Claim Denial
If your hurricane damage claim was denied, you do not have to file a lawsuit immediately. Insurance carriers often have an internal appeal process. An insurance lawyer can assist you with preparing an appeal by reviewing your insurance policy, examining your claim documents, and gathering additional evidence. If, however, your insurance company is acting in bad faith, your attorney can help you navigate litigation.
How to Spot When Insurance Companies Act in “Bad Faith”
Insurance carriers must act fairly and honestly when dealing with people making claims against their policies. Despite this requirement, insurance carriers sometimes act in “bad faith.” Under Florida law, for example, you can pursue a bad faith lawsuit against your insurance company.
Denying your claim outright
Insurance companies are not permitted to deny claims arbitrarily and they must have a valid reason for denying your claim. While insurance carriers often deny claims, your insurance company may be committing bad faith by unjustly denying your claim.
Insurance carriers are required to investigate and pay claims promptly. Your insurance company may be committing bad faith by engaging in unreasonable delays to make you abandon your claim.
Offering you less money
While disputes between claimants and insurance carriers regarding the financial value of a claim are common, insurance carriers can commit bad faith by making minimal settlement offers. This often occurs when insurance carriers fail to investigate claims meaningfully. A low settlement offer and an insurance company’s failure to investigate demonstrate they care more about profit versus acting in good faith.
Refusing requests for documentation
If your insurance company denies your claim, they must do so in writing and explain the basis for the denial. Insurance adjusters cannot communicate denials via telephone calls. Your insurance company may be engaged in bad faith if they refuse to provide a written explanation of their denial.
Failing to conduct a prompt investigation
It is common practice for insurance carriers to investigate claims to determine their validity and the extent of financial loss. Promptly investigating a claim provides a policyholder with certainty that the insurance company is acting in good faith. If your insurance company fails to do so, they may be liable for acting in bad faith.
Not abiding by the statute of limitations
Each state imposes a time limit on a person’s ability to file a lawsuit. This is known as a “statute of limitations.” Along with a statute of limitations, states also impose other time limits on insurance carriers to respond to claims, pay benefits, and investigate complaints.
Statute of limitations in Florida
Under Florida Law, policyholders have five years to file bad-faith lawsuits against their insurance carriers. Florida Law requires a policyholder to file a complaint with the Florida Department of Financial Services describing the insurance company’s bad-faith actions to pursue a bad-faith claim. An insurance company is presumed to be acting in bad faith if they fail to resolve the complaint within 60 days.
Statute of limitations in Louisiana
The statute of limitations to file a bad faith lawsuit in Louisiana is 10 years. Sometimes, insurance carriers mislead policyholders regarding their ability to file a lawsuit. Under Louisiana Law, an insurance carrier can be sued for bad faith if they mislead a person regarding the applicable statute of limitations.
Statute of limitations in Texas
Texas law imposes a two-year statute of limitations on bad faith claims. The statute of limitations begins to run from the date the deceptive action occurred or the date the person discovered the deception. The statute of limitations may be extended if the policyholder can prove the insurance company induced them not to file a lawsuit.
How a Hurricane Insurance Attorney Helps You
Insurance carriers prioritize profits over the people they insure. Fighting the denial of a hurricane damage claim or possibly pursuing bad faith litigation requires strong legal representation. A hurricane insurance lawyer can represent you throughout the claims process (here are tips for finding the right one) by doing the following:
Explains your rights
Insurance policies are not easy documents to read. Your hurricane insurance attorney can review your policy and advise you regarding your legal and contractual rights.
Collects evidence to prove the extent of your loss
You must prove your losses, whether you are appealing the denial of a claim for roof damage or pursuing a bad faith claim. Insurance law attorneys can help you gather evidence regarding the true cost of repairing or replacing your property. Specifically, attorneys can retain expert witnesses supporting your claim regarding the damage to your property.
Preparing a claim against your insurance company
Bad faith insurance claims are difficult matters to litigate, requiring extensive preparation and investigation. An insurance lawyer will work to gather evidence against your insurance company and prepare a formal complaint for the Department of Financial Services to pursue a bad faith claim.
Let an Experienced Hurricane Insurance Lawyer at Tighe P.A. Handle Your Case
Experienced legal representation is essential when fighting powerful insurance companies. At Tighe P.A., we have successfully handled numerous cases and obtained millions of dollars for our clients. To learn more about our legal services and how we can help you navigate the insurance claim process, contact us today!