Whether you purchased and insurance policy for your home, your vehicle, or your business, you did so to protect your investment in the event of damage or loss. After paying your premiums as required, you expect your insurance company to compensate you according to the terms of your policy if you file a claim. Unfortunately, delays, denials, and underpayments of insurance claims are all too common.
At Malik Law, we understand how stressful it can be to try and navigate the insurance claims process while also dealing with the practical ramifications of the damage or loss that prompted that claim. A better understanding of the steps you should take before and after filing an insurance claim can greatly increase the likelihood of your claim being paid in full and within a reasonable time frame.
What to Do Prior to Filing Your Insurance Claim
Filing an insurance claim should be an easy process; however, insurance companies often integrate hurdles and obstacles into the claims process to try and prevent paying out what the claim is actually worth. Regardless of the type of damage or loss you have suffered, there are some steps you should take before you officially file an insurance claim, such as:
Assess the damage/loss. Always make an immediate and cursory assessment of the damage before proceeding. If your home was damaged by a storm, for example, make sure the structure is safe before entering. Likewise, if your vehicle was damaged in a collision, seek a thorough examination before worrying about anything else.
Mitigate further damage. Preventing further damage is not only a potential requirement under the terms of your insurance policy, but it is also in your best interest. Mitigating damages might require you to do things such as board up windows in your home, put a tarp over a damaged roof on your business, or simply move your vehicle out of traffic.
Document the damage/loss. Start documenting your damages/loss as soon as you are safely able to do so. Take pictures with your cell phone, gather documentation of the value of damaged or destroyed property, and keep copies of medical bills and other expenses related to your claim.
Report the damage/loss. Contact your insurance company at your earliest convenience to report the damage/loss. If your insurance company wants to take an official statement from you, however, consider consulting with an attorney first.
Steps You May Need to Take After Filing Your Insurance Claim
Frequently, the reason given for an insurance claim being denied, delayed, or underpaid is related to follow-up after the claim is originally filed. To prevent that from happening to your claim, you may need to take the following additional steps after filing the initial claim:
Schedule a time for an adjuster to come out. Sometimes a claim can be filed entirely over an app or on your computer; however, for larger and/or more complex claims, your insurance company may want to send an adjuster to view the damage. Make sure you schedule that appointment if you are required to do so.
Submit required documents. Your insurance company may inundate you with forms and document requests. Failing to submit even one of these forms or documents can result in a delay or denial of your claim.
Obtain independent estimates. People often mistakenly assume that they must accept the insurance company’s valuation of damages or a loss. To avoid making that mistake, obtain your own independent estimates for the cost to repair or replace items or property. Ideally, you should procure at two or three estimates, especially if the damage is extensive.
Contact your insurance agent. Do not file a claim and then simply wait for your insurance company to pay it. Once you believe you have submitted everything required to pay your claim, contact your insurance agent and follow-up to find out if anything is missing or incomplete.
Consult with an insurance claims attorney. If it appears that your insurance claim is not being processed in a reasonable amount of time or if your claim has been denied or underpaid, contact an experienced insurance claims attorney right away.
Get Help from Experienced Insurance Claims Attorneys
If you need to file an insurance claim, and you are concerned that the claim may not be paid in full within a reasonable time, an insurance claims attorney can help. The same is true if your insurance claim has already been denied or underpaid. The Florida insurance claim attorneys at Malik Law P.A. are committed to helping you navigate the insurance claims process and to advocating on your behalf to make sure you are fully and fairly compensated for the damage and/or loss you have suffered.
Call us at 407-500-1000 or submit our online form today. One of our experienced Florida insurance claims attorneys will explain your rights to you and discuss your legal options at no cost.
Imran Malik, rated AV® Preeminent, by Martindale-Hubbell, is the founding member of Malik Law P.A. An AV® Rating signifies that a lawyer has reached the heights of professional excellence. He has practiced law for a number of years, and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity by fellow attorneys in his area of practice. Martindale-Hubbell is the oldest and most trusted lawyer information service in America.