6 Mistakes That Can Absolutely Kill Your Storm Damage Claim
Just a few weeks ago, heavy rain and flooding forced families all across the Rio Grande Valley to evacuate their homes and save what they could. Communities all across the Rio Grande Valley were flooded, including neighborhoods in Weslaco, McAllen, Mission, and Edinburg.
The water flooded thousands of homes and business with up to 3-feet of water. So far, damage estimates are in the hundreds of millions of dollar. According to the National Weather Service:
- More than 3,000 residences and businesses in Weslaco, McAllen, MIssion and Hidalgo sustained some degree of flood damage.
- Several thousands vehicles were damaged from flood waters.
- More than 2,000 rescues took place, including emergency rescues from vehicles and homes.
If you suffered damage to your home because of a storm in the McAllen-metro area, you may be eligible to file a storm damage insurance claim. However, it is important to be aware of a number of mistakes and pitfalls that can lead to your claim being denied, delayed, or underpaid.
Your McAllen insurance lawyers at Millin & Millin have years of experience handling insurance companies acting in bad faith. We know how they can take a simple mistake you make and use it against you to deny a claim.
To better protect yourself, your dedicated legal team at Millin & Millin would like to offer you a brief overview of some of the most common mistakes committed by storm damage claimants.
6 Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Filing a Storm Damage Claim
It is absolutely understandable that the stress of dealing with a damaged home and property can lead to some honest mistakes, but a simple trip up when dealing with your insurer can cost you thousands of dollars. When filing a home insurance claim make sure to avoid:
1. Waiting Too Long to File
You’ll want to make a claim as soon as possible after a serious storm causes damage to your property. The longer you wait to file your paperwork, the harder it becomes to prove your claim. Some insurance companies also put a deadline on when you can file a storm damage claim. If you fail to meet this timeframe, you essentially give up any rights to recover compensation for damages.
Regardless of the deadline, you’ll want to file a claim immediately. Damages to your home will still be “fresh,” and the insurance adjuster will be able to see the evidence clearly.
2. Not Documenting the Damages Correctly
While it’s easy to assume the insurance company is on your side, the truth is much different. As a claimant, you want to collect and provide as much evidence as possible to support your claim. At the same time, you’ll want to make it as difficult as possible for your insurance company to deny or underpay it.
Take pictures and video if possible, as well as plenty of notes and documentation; this evidence can be used to contest an adjuster’s finding just in case.
3. Trusting Everything Your Insurance Company Tells You
Unfortunately, your McAllen bad faith insurance lawyers at Millin & Millin have seen time and time again insurance companies essentially lying or providing misinformation to derail clients from making a valid claim.
The insurance adjuster working your claim is trained to limit the company’s responsibility as much as possible, even if that means placing the fault on you. The bottom line remains – don’t just blindly trust your insurance company. Ask as many questions as necessary to ensure that you understand the situation.
If you find your insurer ignoring your requests, taking an unnecessary amount of time to respond to you, or denying or limiting your claim on unreasonable grounds, contact an insurance lawyer immediately.
4. Not Mitigating Damages/Making Repairs
This particular “mistake” can be a challenge to avoid as there is a very thin line mitigating damages and making too many repairs.
On one end, most homeowner policies make the homeowner responsible for mitigating storm damages. This means doing just enough – like a placing a tarp over a damaged roof – to stop additional damages from occuring. Failing to mitigate damages means you might run the risk of obtaining other damages that might not be covered.
On the other hand, making repairs – even small repairs – could result in a skewed analysis by the insurance adjuster. Your insurer could potentially blame you for damages and attempt to deny your claim.
If you aren’t positive on what exactly you can do, contact an informed insurance lawyer to give you some insight.
5. Accepting the First Offer
Insurance companies are NOT in the business of shelling out money to every single client. They are a business, and like most businesses, this means profits come first.
In an effort to avoid lowering their own profits, your insurance company will likely offer you a quick check that will only cover a small portion of the damages. If you accept this first offer, you won’t have an opportunity to obtain the full amount that is owed to you.
While you might be tempted to accept their first offering because of the pressures of having a damaged home, don’t put yourself in this position. It might take longer to get you the full amount that is due, but it will help you avoid the hassle of covering repairs out of your own pocket.
6. Not Seeking Legal Guidance
When facing major damages to your home because of a serious storm, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and underprepared. Insurance companies know this and will take advantage of the situation to underpay your claim – or even outright deny you.
But you don’t have to accept their bad faith tactics or behaviors.
It can seem scary trying to go up against a giant insurance agency, but there are qualified lawyers who have the skill, experience, and ability to protect your rights. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when filing a storm damage claim is allowing your insurer to dictate the situation, forcing you into accepting a settlement that you know isn’t right.
You don’t have to fight your insurance company alone. Trust in the experience and skill of Millin & Millin to protect you and your property.
Depend on the bad faith insurance legal team of Millin & Millin to get you the justice you deserve when seeking your compensation after a severe storm. Contact us today at (956) 631-5600 to get the legal representation you need.