When a natural disaster strikes, leaving your home in disarray, one of the initial steps in restoring normalcy typically involves contacting your insurance provider. Even in areas where severe weather events are a common occurrence, most homeowners opt for an insurance policy to safeguard themselves in the event of such incidents. However, it’s essential to be cautious, as there is always a risk of receiving a lowballed claim from your insurer.
The reality is that insurance companies primarily focus on their own interests. As profit-driven enterprises, they aim to minimize payouts in order to optimize their earnings. Consequently, relying solely on your insurer’s assessment for your final compensation might result in receiving less than what you deserve, and you may not realize it until it’s too late.
How can I tell if my claim has been lowballed?
A lowballed claim refers to a settlement proposal from the insurance provider that falls short of your expectations. When calamity hits your home, causing damage or destruction to your property and possessions, your insurance policy is designed to cover the necessary repair or replacement costs.
As you pay your insurance premium each month, you anticipate that the insurance company will help restore your life to its previous state. Regrettably, the actual situation often deviates from this expectation. Instead, insurers tend to provide only the bare minimum to address the damages, if they provide anything at all.
Before venturing into the insurance claims process alone, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with some tactics insurance companies employ on policyholders who may be unacquainted with the industry’s intricacies. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to sidestep any maneuvers they might use to avoid compensating you fairly.
How would my insurance company try to lowball me?
Insurance companies are often perceived as helpful while you pay your monthly premiums, but their priorities may shift when it comes to paying out settlements. Fortunately, their tactics can be easily identified when you know what to look for. Here are some common strategies insurers use to pay less than what’s required for proper restoration.
Inadequate Damage Assessments
One tactic insurance companies employ to underpay homeowners is to perform an incomplete assessment of the damages. When your home sustains damage from fire, water, or severe weather, the insurance adjuster is expected to inspect the property and document all damages. They should then calculate an amount sufficient for repairing the damages. However, this process often doesn’t go as smoothly as it should.
Instead, the adjuster may overlook some damages during their inspection. For example, if your home is damaged by a hurricane and part of the roof is torn off, the insurance company might only agree to repair the exterior and patch up the interior ceiling. To an inexperienced homeowner, this may seem reasonable, but without a licensed contractor’s expert opinion, the full extent of the damage remains unknown.
You might accept the insurance payout only to discover later that your walls have mold and mildew damage. Once the claim is closed, it’s impossible to seek additional compensation from your insurer. Insurance companies are aware of this and may intentionally omit damages that are not immediately apparent to the homeowner.
Enticing You with Immediate Payment
Insurance companies aim to close claims quickly and move on to the next one. As such, they might pressure inexperienced homeowners, especially when making lowball offers. Their initial offer might be shockingly low. When you refuse or try to negotiate, the adjuster may suggest bringing in a professional for a detailed quote.
However, this professional is often hired by the insurance company and has likely agreed to provide a specific, lower estimate. Consequently, the contractor’s offer appears much more attractive than the initial one. Believing it to be the best option, you might accept the highest settlement offered. Insurance companies capitalize on this by offering immediate payment, knowing that desperate homeowners are more likely to accept a lower settlement.
Overlooking Damaged Areas
Insurance companies’ tactics don’t end with the initial assessment. In addition to deliberately excluding damages to avoid paying for them, they might not ensure that everything is fully restored. For instance, consider a living room fireplace damaged by a natural disaster. The insurance company may offer to repair it completely but neglect the cracks in the ceiling above it, which also resulted from the original damage.
Can a lowballed claim affect my repairs?
Receiving less compensation than anticipated from your insurance provider not only creates financial strain but can also significantly impact your home repair endeavors following a natural disaster.
Navigating the aftermath of a disaster is already challenging, but typical insurance company tactics can further complicate the restoration process. Here are some obstacles you may encounter:
Challenges with Contractors
Insurance companies often outline the specific repairs to be undertaken within your home. To undervalue claims, they might propose an impractical scope of work, suggesting services that the designated professional may not actually provide. Consequently, you’ll be left searching for someone else willing to execute the project as promised.
Don’t be lured by insurance companies’ enticing yet unrealistic offers that ultimately leave you at a disadvantage.
Resorting to Inexpensive Labor
As insurers might describe an unfeasible scope of work, you could struggle to find a reputable professional to carry out the repairs. With a low settlement offer, you may be forced to hire inexpensive labor that fits within the budget provided. This might involve working with unqualified individuals or dipping into your own pocket to secure the services you need.
Settling for Basic Repairs
Exercise caution when your insurance company proposes a comprehensive repair plan for your home. Although their offer may sound appealing, they might not go the extra mile to restore your home and life to normalcy.
For example, if an exterior wall of your house is chipping, the insurer might only cover repainting the affected area, without ensuring a color match or repainting the entire house. Consequently, you’ll be left with noticeable cosmetic discrepancies.
Unaccounted Permit Expenses
Restoration efforts often entail additional permit costs. However, insurance companies usually don’t include these expenses in their settlement offers. Once you’ve cashed the check and initiated repairs, you’ll be left to cover these permit costs yourself. Over time, these expenses can accumulate, particularly if your insurer hasn’t provided the full compensation you’re entitled to.
Get an even better settlement by working with a public adjuster
Many homeowners navigating the claims process on their own often end up with undervalued settlements due to their limited knowledge of the industry and their policy’s specifics.
Lacking a clear understanding of your insurance coverage and your rights as a homeowner makes it easier for insurance companies to outmaneuver you, resulting in an inadequate claim settlement that barely covers a portion of the damages sustained.
Thankfully, there’s a solution to sidestep this frustration altogether: a public adjuster. These professionals manage the entire insurance claims process on your behalf, much like a skilled attorney. Public adjusters work tirelessly to ensure you receive what you rightfully deserve. By hiring a public adjuster, they will meticulously assess your property, document your assets, and record any damages, significantly reducing the chances of receiving an undervalued claim.
Bulldog Adjusters can help with your lowballed claim
Instead of depending on your insurance company to provide a fair settlement, having a dedicated professional in your corner ensures a smoother process. As a homeowner, you’re not expected to be fully versed in your insurance policy’s details or the tactics insurers employ during claim negotiations.
With over a decade of experience, Bulldog Adjusters comprises adjusters who are homeowners themselves, familiar with the challenges of addressing property damage with insurance companies. We specialize in securing the most substantial possible settlements for homeowners. If you have experienced property damage or loss due to a natural disaster or other events and received an undervalued claim settlement from your insurer, contact us today to discover how we can assist you!