Coming Together after Storm Damage: Insured vs. Insurer

Storms weather and can bring about the best and worst in people.  When damage occurs, the test of resilience, character, friendship and trust are all evaluated.  The process is not any easier when there is an Insurance company that one has to deal with and when there is the lurking possibility that they are handling thousands of claims at the same time.  All damages are subject to scrutiny, including the damage that takes place after storms.  Disputes arise in the context of property damage and to its extent. This firm is willing to assist as an All-American firm working for its citizens.  In the doing of so, we write and will consider assistance via phone if necessary.  Not all are easily able to navigate as emotions such as shock are still being overcome.

The competing interests that an insured and insurer have in the filing of a claim also makes it more painstakingly difficult.  Some perceive the insurance claims process as adversarial.  The insurance representative cannot guide to what is best in representation on the matter. This is since Insurance companies appear to be in a Business.  As such, the expectation to be fairly compensated is questionable.  While many pay on time and premiums it does not mean that what you give is what you will get back.  At times, adjusters may become overwhelmed in working on multiple cases that are catastrophic in nature and make mistakes or overlook damage.   That is why having an attorney best helps.   For those reasons, we have compiled a list of items that should be attended prior to discussing a case with an attorney or Insurance company.

Please ensure compliance with the following:

  1. By making a timely reporting of claim, as a failure to do so may result in its denial. This can normally be done via phone or online.  The claims process normally begins at this point: initial contact with the insurance company, an evaluation of your claim, negotiations, and a resolution/settlement.  At this point, an adjuster is normally assigned.
  2. Documentation of all video and photos of the damage, if possible.  It would even be better if those included prior and after.  Possible electronic receipts of any purchases made.
  1. The obtaining of independent quotes by contractor receipts in putting a price on the extent of the loss.  These may be challenged or questioned by the Insurance company, but are a good start and utilizing them may assist you in deciding whom you wish to use for the final repair.  Sometimes, supplements are required for damage that is hidden.  If disputed, the burden of proof can then move from the insurance company to the insured if the contractor estimate does not reflect the true damage sustained.

Please ensure that you do not:

    1. Begin repairing anything until it has been approved by the insurance company.  Everything must be on terms that are agreed and in writing.  Mere verbal assurances are not enough.
    2. Throw away items that substantiate the claim until the matter is finalized.
    3. Assume you have to use the insurance company’s vendors.  You have the right to hire your own expert and contractors.
  • Being overwhelmed by loss and if it is your first experience with a large insurance claim, recognize that it’s basically a business negotiation. At the same time, one also wants to ensure that their full rights are being given.  This is why knowledge of the policy, additional “Endorsements” or extras that may be listed on your declaration page helps.   If one is not in possession of one, ask for one (in writing) and make the adjuster is working off the same document. Since there is math involved, the process can become more complicated.  Having an attorney by your side definitely, makes the handling easier.

Common post-disaster insurance problems include:

  1. Not having enough coverage (“underinsured”)
  2. Delays
  3. Confusion over what’s covered and what’s not
  4. “Lowball” estimates and settlement offers
  5. The adjuster assigned to the claim is unpleasant or hard to work with
  6. Differences of opinion over scopes and values of losses

Your insurer will only pay if:

  1. Your policy was in effect at the time the belongings were damaged
  2. The belongings were covered by the policy
  3. The policy insured against the cause of the property damage
  4. The belongings belonged to you
  5. You followed the procedures required by the policy

If any of those factors are in dispute, you should obtain legal advice. Please feel free to call us.You have legal rights and can be represented by an attorney until a claim is satisfied.  An attorney is able to assist in preparing, filing and negotiating on the behalf of the Insured. Lawyers named Illinois commercial law trial attorney Peter Lubin a Super Lawyer and Illinois business dispute attorneys Patrick Austermuehle and Andrew Murphy Rising Stars in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Lubin Austermuehle’s Illinois business trial lawyers have over thirty years of experience in litigating complex class action, copyright, non-compete agreement, trademark and libel suits, consumer rights and many different types of business and commercial litigation disputes.  Our Aurora, Rockford and DeKalb Evanston business dispute lawyers, civil litigation lawyers and copyright attorneys handle emergency business lawsuits involving copyrights, trademarks, injunctions, and TROS, covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud. You can contact us by calling at 630-333-0333.  You can also contact us online.

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