You’ve filed a fire insurance claim, dealt with the claims adjuster, and received an offer from your insurer. The problem is, the offer is lower than you think it should be, and you’re worried about how much you will have to pay out of pocket to rebuild your home and replace your belongings.
What are your options moving forward? There may be a lot of pressure to accept the first offer the insurer provides. Your family is living in an apartment or condo, you’re eager to get started with repair work, and you want to start replacing lost belongings so that you can start feeling normal again. Every day you delay is another day you have to wait before you can move back into your home, an important milestone in the recovery process.
However, it’s important that you receive enough money to complete the recovery process. If you believe that you are entitled to more under your fire insurance coverage, you can negotiate. These are some of the steps you can take to make sure the negotiation process goes well.
1) Hire an Insurance Lawyer
You don’t need to start a legal dispute to hire an insurance lawyer. In fact, it’s often a much better idea to hire someone to assist early on in the process and avoid a dispute altogether.
Legal action can be time-consuming and costly at a time when you want things to be resolved as soon as possible. An effective insurance lawyer will help you with the appraisal process and communications with the insurance adjuster.
You may not even want to wait until you get an offer to hire a lawyer. They can help you avoid common claims mistakes and get a better settlement from the start.
2) Do Your Own Appraisal
Your next step is to prepare a counter-offer for the insurance company. The best place to start is with a second inspection and appraisal from your own experts, such as contractors or engineers. They will look at the structural damage and provide a comprehensive review of the work that has to be done.
One of the reasons the insurer’s offer may seem low is that they deemed some repairs unnecessary. For example, if one side of your home was damaged by fire, but not the other half, you may want to replace the siding all around. The insurer may only want to replace the damaged half.
3) Review Your Proof of Loss
Another area of disagreement tends to be your personal belongings, which are listed on a Proof of Loss. In a total loss, listing all of your belongings can be a difficult process. It’s not easy to remember everything.
Unless you have signed off on a final Proof of Loss, you can still make additions. Pay attention to whether you’re signing off on an interim Proof of Loss or a final one. Once you’ve signed a final version, you cannot revise it.
You don’t have to accept a first offer from the insurer. Get help before you start negotiating, and you can make sure you get a fair offer. An insurance lawyer can guide you through the process and improve the settlement that you receive.