Your Legal Options for Hurricane Maria Damage Claims

Hurricane Maria Early Recovery Update
December 25, 2017
Damage Claim Filing Tips
December 26, 2017

If your home or business was damaged in Hurricane Maria, but your insurance provider either denied, delayed, or low-balled your damage claim, you have rights.

When you file a claim, your insurance provider will assign an appraiser or insurance adjuster to your case. This person will visit your property, assess the damage, and complete a report that details the extent of damage and loss. Your insurance provider will base your settlement amount off this list.

However, some Puerto Rico storm victims have discovered that the insurance providers they counted on to be there after a disaster are failing them by delaying their payments, denying their claims, or offering settlement amounts that aren’t enough to cover the amount of damages sustained or allow for repairs and rebuilding.

Claim Denials

An insurance company may deny a claim for several reasons including:

  • The policy does not cover the peril that caused damage
  • The policy does not cover hurricane damages and loss
  • The claim was not filed within the deadline
  • Evidence and proof of loss documentation were not filed with the claim
  • The damages sustained were not as severe as claimed
  • Insurance coverage has lapsed, or premiums weren’t paid.

    When damage claims are unfairly denied or delayed, the policyholder suffers additional losses and expenses. But when an insurance provider acts in bad faith, the policyholder has options.

    Your Legal Options

    Did you know that an insurance policy is actually a contract that binds you and the company to specific terms and obligations? These terms include how you must handle disputes which typically involves the appraisal process, mediation, or arbitration.

    Before deciding on any specific type of dispute resolution, speak to an insurance law attorney. There are pros and cons for each type of dispute resolution and you must know these to make an informed decision.

    If you choose the appraisal process, you will need to pay an independent appraiser to represent your interests and assess the full value of your damage and losses. You will also need to pay half of the costs of an ‘umpire’ appraiser who will make the final decision on your claim.

    When arbitration or mediation are used to reach an agreement, you will need to pay half the costs of the mediator or arbitrator who will work to help you and the insurance provider reach an agreement. The decision made is binding on both parties, even if it not the resolution you wanted and needed.

    But many policyholders don’t realize the options that may be available to them and that each has certain benefits and disadvantages. But only an attorney can file a damage claims lawsuit for you so that if negotiations fail to reach an amicable decision, a court of law can make a fair and just decision. It is very important to us that you don’t pay money for an appraiser, public adjuster, or mediator unless that is your best option to resolve the dispute. Call us today for a free consultation to learn more about your options for hurricane damage insurance claims.

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