How to Prepare & Present Your Property Damage Claim
The best way to resolve a dispute with your insurance company is to avoid having one arise in the first place. By taking the time to prepare and present a solid property damage claim, you will have the greatest likelihood of getting your claim paid promptly and in full. If a dispute does arise, you will be well-positioned to argue the merits of your claim in court.
The insurance claims process can be complicated, and it can be hard to know what to do if you have not been through the process once or twice before. The attorneys at Geyer · Fuxa · Tyler have guided policy holders in Fort Lauderdale and Broward County through the process countless times. Below are some tips to help you prepare and present your property damage claim. For further advice or expert legal assistance, call our Sunrise office at 954-990-5251 to speak with an attorney.
Prompt Notification – Your insurance company may require you to notify them of a potential claim, whether a first-party claim for benefits or a liability claim that may be brought by a third party, within a relatively short amount of time. Check your policy if you are unsure of the amount of time you have to provide notice, but assume that it must be done as soon as is practicable after the loss. Think days, not months.
Proof of Loss – Your policy likely requires you to submit a formal statement of your claim with enough facts and details for the carrier to be able to determine whether the claim is covered and the extent of its liability. The proof of loss statement must generally be signed by you, and it is not uncommon for the insurer to require that it be notarized as well.
Submit Documentation – The insurer may require you to submit all documents and records in support of your claim. This may be done independently or in preparation for an examination under oath (see below). Be sure to keep your own copies of all records and documents.
Examination Under Oath – Although not required in every instance, your policy may include a provision giving the insurance company the right to demand an examination under oath. This proceeding requires you to submit to questioning by the insurance company, which uses your answers in deciding issues such as coverage, liability and damages. As the name implies, you are sworn under oath to tell the truth in the presence of a court reporter who records the proceedings. Contacting an attorney before an examination under oath can be very helpful in preparing for the examination, and you will likely want your attorney present during the proceeding.
Be ready for insurance company defenses
You may have done everything right in submitting your claim. That doesn’t mean the insurance company won’t still try to find ways to deny or disclaim coverage. Many of these insurance company defenses are highly technical in nature and in order to refute them, you need the help of experienced insurance law attorneys who understand the technical aspects of complicated insurance policies that can argue the correct result to a judge or jury.
Policy Exclusions – One of the most difficult defenses to challenge occurs when the insurance company claims that one or more policy exclusions apply to the claim. Litigation in this area can be complex, focusing on complicated legal distinctions between policy exclusions versus policy limitations, and their effect on your claim.
Wear and Tear – If the carrier argues that your damage is due to normal wear and tear and not the event you are submitting your claim for, it may be necessary to hire experts in a particular field to examine the damage and present a written opinion or testify in court about the true cause of the damage.
Pre-Existing Damage – A favorite claim of the insurer is that your damage was caused by some earlier incident. The assistance of experts may be necessary here too. If there are records or documentation relating to any prior damage or repairs, be sure and share this knowledge with your attorney at the outset, so that you will be prepared to meet this defense.
Unpaid Premium or Rescission – Perhaps the least technical of all insurance company defenses is that your policy is not in effect because of an unpaid premium. Also, when you submit a claim, this is often the time when the insurance company goes back and pores over your initial application to determine whether any information may be inaccurate or incomplete. Florida law allows the carrier to rescind the policy based on an application that contains false or missing information. But when should a company review your application for accuracy? Before it approves you and accepts your premiums, or only after when you finally make a claim. A policy rescission motivated solely by a desire to avoid paying a valid claim may well be an example of insurance bad faith, and our attorneys will work to hold insurers accountable for such improper practices.
Prepare and Present a Strong Insurance Claim with Help from Geyer · Fuxa · Tyler
The insurance company would love to deny your claim because you did not fulfill your obligations under the policy. To make sure that doesn’t happen, or to be ready to challenge an insurance company denial, contact Geyer · Fuxa · Tyler as soon as possible when you have an insurance claim. We can guide you through the process and represent you in any dispute. In Fort Lauderdale or anywhere in Florida, call 954-990-5251.