<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=799173596894770&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Property Claims BLOG

All Posts

Know How You'll Prove These 5 Things Before Deciding to Settle Your Homeowners Insurance Claim Without a Public Adjuster

stackapapas1test2

It’s easy to talk about settling a homeowners insurance claim like it’s a single event. But unless you suffered a total loss and your carrier is paying your policy limit immediately, your final settlement will be the sum of many smaller settlement payments made to you over time.

 

Whether or not your carrier will pay enough to cover your loss is a function of every choice you make about your claim. Before you accept or agree to any repair estimates, valuations, or payments from your insurance carrier — either as partial or full settlement for your damages — know how you’ll prove these 5 things.

 

Covered Cause of Loss

 

Some causes of loss are obvious: a wildfire came down the mountain and consumed the town in its path. Others causes aren’t so clear: did the roof collapse from the weight of the snow that fell or because the straight-line winds that damaged a wall?

 

Your homeowners insurance policy will tell you what is covered, what is excluded, and if there are any endorsements or amendments that change the language in your policy language. Read it carefully, keeping a keen eye out for provisions that can be interpreted more than one way: courts agree these ambiguities favor you, the policyholder.

 

Remember, in the most common type of homeowners policies — an open-perils policy — coverage is presumed for all losses that aren’t specifically excluded. This means the language of the exclusion must match your loss exactly. Exclusions that do not match cannot be used to exclude coverage.

 

Conversely, if you have a named-perils policy, the cause of your loss must be named specifically in your policy, or coverage is excluded.

 

Full Extent of Your Damages

 

Figuring out the full extent of your damages can be a challenge. For example, a severe kitchen fire can release smoke, soot, and toxic fumes throughout a house. Proving the full extent of the damages quickly becomes a question of what all is damaged, how badly, whether it can be cleaned/repaired or must be replaced, and at what cost?

 

Of course, the answers to these questions depend on whose interests are being served in the process, yours or your insurance carrier’s. If you want it to be yours, you’ll need to provide evidence of your claim, including:

  • Documentation of your loss
  • Independent assessment of the damage to your home/building(s)
  • Inventory of your personal property
  • Determination of what should be replaced vs. repaired

 

Damage hides, too. Water losses can result in mold damage. Soot can collect in ductwork, walls, flooring, etc. Even the tiniest piece of charred wood left in a wall can produce a noxious, long-lasting odor that pushes its way back into the room through the smallest of openings. If you or your contractor discover additional damage, make sure it’s documented, then provide your insurer with additional evidence of your need and cost to repair or replace the additional damaged property.

 

Compliance With Contractual Obligations

 

A homeowners insurance policy is a legally binding contract between the insurer and the insured. As such, both have a series of contractual obligations that must be met following a loss. Failure to meet these obligations can lead to claim delays and denials for the policyholder, or breach of contract and bad faith lawsuits for the insurance carrier.

 

All homeowners insurance policies require policyholders to:

  • Take reasonable steps to mitigate your damages.
  • Contact the police if you think a crime was committed.
  • Provide your insurer with prompt notification of your loss.
  • Cancel any debit or credit cards that were damaged or compromised.
  • Many more. Read your policy.

 

Valuation Reflects Scope of Damages and Cost to Repair or Replace

 

Things can get very intense when your carrier provides its first lowball valuation of your damaged home or personal property. Certainly, it will appear to be a very thorough response to your loss. It will be calculated using industry software, and you’ll likely catch a lot of insurance policy jargon — ACV, RCV, standard/recoverable/non-recoverable depreciation, and more — in the offer.

 

Do not be distracted by the display. Valuation is a highly subjective arena, and the result tells the truth about who the numbers favor.

 

You have every right, and indeed the obligation, to provide your carrier with your own documented scope of loss and valuations of your damages. Rooting your claim strategy in your homeowners insurance policy, and supporting your conclusions with abundant evidence, pave the path to a full and fair settlement for your damages.

 

Additional Expenses Incurred as a Result of Your Loss

 

Most policies provide coverage for the additional costs you incur as a result of your loss. This type of coverage goes by many names — Additional Living Expenses, Loss of Use, Additional Costs Incurred — and is restricted by either a time or monetary limit.

 

It’s important to note this coverage is for out-of-pocket expenses actually incurred in excess of your normal living expenses. For example, if your normal monthly food cost was $400, but because you’re staying in a hotel with no kitchen, your food cost jumps to $1200, your reimbursable additional food expense would be $800 for that month.

 

See our blog for more information about what is or isn’t covered by loss of use provisions. In the meantime, be sure to save all your receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses you incur related to your homeowners insurance claim.

 

Get Help Proving Your Claim

 

Property damage claims are complex. The larger your loss, the more challenging it is to prove the full extent of your damages.

 

That’s where Miller Public Adjusters comes in. Our team of dedicated claims professionals can document your damages, verify your coverage, produce fair valuations that put your interests first, and negotiate the maximum settlement available under the terms of your policy.

 

We work exclusively for you, never for the insurance companies! Click below to request a Free Claim Review.

Free Claim Review CTA

David Miller
David Miller
Thank you for visiting us. My name is David Miller, and I know what it means to have to fight with your insurance carrier just to get fair payment for your property damage claim. My family suffered a total loss house fire that took nearly two very stressful years to settle. Since, I combined my experience in construction with my expertise in contract language to create Miller Public Adjusters. We work exclusively for policyholders. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, and let us know how we can help.

Related Posts

The Hidden Damages of a Fire Loss

There’s more to fire damage than meets the eye. Fire can also cause hidden damages that can be hard to detect. The two main culprits: smoke/soot damage, and water damage. Knowing about these additional impacts on your property, and how to take care of them, helps ensure you’re reimbursed appropriately for your claim.

Building Code Compliance Adds Substantial Cost When Rebuilding After a House Fire: Who Pays the Bill?

Building codes are in a constant state of evolution. Advancements in engineering, technology, safety, building materials and methods, and changes in the physical environment all drive changes in building codes. If your fire-damaged home is 10 or more years old, complying with the current building codes may add substantial cost to your reconstruction. Will you be stuck with the bill?

Who Decides Whether You Should Rebuild or Repair Your Home After a House Fire?

There’s a long list of things to consider when it comes to deciding whether your fire-damaged home can be repaired, or if it needs to be razed and rebuilt. Your insurer is likely to push hard for the lowest-cost option, but this bare minimum may fall short of what you actually need and what your homeowners policy promises.

AdobeStock_1589186191