Denied Insurance Claims – Homeowners Insurance Tips and News Fri, 28 Jun 2013 15:01:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Insurance Companies Hang Customers Out to Dry Fri, 15 Jan 2010 16:03:25 +0000 clotheslineDealing with your insurance company can be something of a crap shoot. You never really know ahead of time how things are going to go. You might get lucky, and not have the homeowners insurance company make too big a fuss about your claim and just award you the damages you’re entitled to. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.

Dragging Chains Across the Roof

Take, for example, the Sherrills of Gainseville, Georgia. Back in June of 2008, their home underwent a violent storm that produced hail the size of golf balls. The roof to the home was damaged, and they immediately called their insurance company.

The insurance company adjuster disagreed with what happened. The adjuster claimed that the damage had occurred “where somebody dragged chains” across the roof. Allstate, the couple’s homeowners insurance provider, initially paid just $70.53 on the claim.

The Sherrills, of course, didn’t take the matter lying down. They filed a complaint with the authorities in their state. It took nearly a year, plus damage estimates, photographs and even hiring of an independent inspector to get the insurance company to relent. Eventually, 11 months after the initial storm the Sherrills were paid $11,882 by the homeowners insurance company.

The Sherrills weren’t alone, however. Sticking in the same state, Georgia, statistics show that complaints to the Department of Insurance nearly doubled between the years 2007 and 2009. Specifically, complaints where the insurance company claimed that the damage to a home was caused by something other than what it was went up by as much as four times.

A Disturbing Trend

All across the country, homeowners insurance companies are tending toward being more adversarial with their customers, which is obviously not a positive trend. Insurance adjusters are following stricter standards than they have in the past.

In some cases, customers have been loyal to an insurance company for decades, only to find that their first and only claim with the company is denied.

For some folks, unforeseeable problems, like the recent issues involving insurance claims for Chinese drywall used in the construction of their homes has even led to cancellation of their insurance policies.

Consumer Tenacity is Key

The key to resolving this kind of insurance issue seems to be tenacity. For customers that follow up with their state departments of insurance and continue to press the insurance company for a satisfactory answer, the chances that things will work out all right exponentially grows.

Photo via Number Six (bill lapp)

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How to Beat Denied Insurance Claims Thu, 10 Dec 2009 18:08:49 +0000 CantBeBeatOne of the most frustrating things about homeowners insurance is that it just doesn’t, and can’t, cover every possible contingency. There are all sorts of problems – from the Chinese drywall issue that’s been in the news so often lately to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina – that your homeowners insurance company may use to try to deny a claim.

Fortunately, you have recourse. There are some specific things you can do to maximize your chances of success and try to get the company to honor your claim:

  1. Don’t assume a denial is the final answer. Most people don’t even follow up on a denied claim. Yet, more than half of people that do follow up actually get results. Following up dramatically increases the odds the company will cover your claim. The worst that can happen is that they’ll say “no,” which they’ve already done anyways.
  2. Get everything in writing. Insist that the insurance company do a review of the case. Ask for a comprehensive, written explanation as to why your claim was denied. In some places, it is even required by law that the company provide you with written reasons why the claim was denied.
  3. Double-check your policy. Look for anything in the denial that doesn’t seem to mesh with the policy. Follow up by querying the company in writing, quoting the policy as necessary.
  4. Watch for process errors. There is a process that the insurer has to follow, and sometimes the insurer may deny a claim based on a form that wasn’t filled out correctly or didn’t happen within a certain amount of time. In most places, a company can’t refuse to pay a valid claim because of such process errors.
  5. Talk to an agent. In some cases, your local insurance agent may be able to help you advocate with the insurance company. It can’t hurt to try.
  6. Consider an attorney. An insurance company will often pay more attention once a lawyer is brought in. On the other hand, using an attorney can be time consuming and costly.
  7. Be persistent. The squeaky wheel really does get the grease. Contact the insurance company on a regular basis. Be polite and persistent. If you don’t get the response you want, keep asking to talk to the next level up. Keep a record of all of your phone calls, including date, time, and the name of the representative you spoke with.
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