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How to Handle an Underpaid Wind Damage Claim on Your Home?

Experiencing wind damage to your home can be daunting and even more stressful if your insurance claim is underpaid. Insurance is designed to provide you peace of mind by protecting your financial security when calamity hits. However, dealing with an underpaid claim may feel like a breach of that commitment.

This guide explores navigating this situation and what actions to take when your wind damage claim is underpaid.

Understanding Your Policy and Coverage

The first step in handling an underpaid wind damage claim is understanding your homeowner’s insurance policy. After this, you can hire attorneys for insurance claims if you still feel your policy covers more and you were underpaid. Policies vary widely, and knowing the specifics of your coverage can help you determine whether the insurance company’s assessment is accurate.

Review the sections on wind damage and become acquainted with the terms, restrictions, and exclusions. Pay special attention to deductibles, limits, and the scope of coverage.

Documenting the Damage

In 2024, around 18.1% of US properties worth $7.7 trillion are under severe or great danger of hurricane wind damage. As stated in a Realtor survey, Miami, FL, has the largest total value of properties in severe or extreme danger of wind. At the same time, homes in 15 major metros across different states are at risk of severe or extreme wind.

While properties worth $7.7 trillion are in danger, insurers won’t pay this significant amount for damages. They will try to reduce the payable amount to keep themselves in profit. This makes accurate documentation vital in disputing an underpaid claim.

Document the damage thoroughly immediately after the wind event. Take clear, detailed images and videos of the impacted locations. Take note of the date and time of the occurrence, and if feasible, get meteorological reports to back up your claim. Detailed records of damaged property and any temporary repairs you make to prevent further damage will also support your case.

Seeking Professional Assessments

Damages caused by natural disasters like storms and hurricanes can be significant and very costly. According to Reuters, insurance claims from hurricanes and floods totaled $120 billion in 2022. The insured losses amount was similar to that in 2021, although the total damage caused that year was more.

However, insurance companies try to reduce the high amounts to pay you less than you deserve. Often, the insurance company’s adjuster may undervalue the damage. Hiring an independent professional, such as a public adjuster or a contractor specializing in wind damage, can provide an impartial assessment.

These experts can offer a detailed estimate of repair costs, which can be crucial in challenging the insurer’s valuation. While employing these specialists might be costly, their experience can considerably improve the chances of a fair settlement.

Negotiating a Settlement

Negotiation is a key part of resolving an underpaid claim. Armed with your independent assessment and documentation, request a meeting with your insurance adjuster to discuss the discrepancies.

During the negotiation, remain calm and assertive. Present your evidence methodically and be prepared to counter any arguments from the insurer. Sometimes, showing a willingness to settle for a reasonable amount can expedite the process. However, you should not hesitate to stand firm on what you believe is a fair settlement.

Considering Legal Action

When all else fails, legal action may be necessary. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in insurance claims might shed light on the feasibility of your case. Legal processes can be costly, but the fear of a lawsuit may push the insurance company to give a reasonable settlement.

As VandenBout Law points out, an attorney in this field can help with delayed, denied, or underpaid insurance claims. They can guide you through the process, ensuring your rights are protected and you have the best chance of receiving adequate compensation. Moreover, these lawyers also have trial experiences so that they can handle things in a courtroom if things escalate.

Preventative Measures for the Future

A Fox Weather article noted that around 40 million American homes were at risk of hurricane and storm damage in 2024. It also mentioned that properties in New York City, Miami, and Houston had the highest risk. Such early estimations can help residents take preventive measures to minimize damages.

Regularly evaluating and updating your insurance policy can guarantee that you have enough coverage. If you reside in a wind-prone location, consider expanding your coverage limitations. Documenting the present state of your property with images and videos might also help with future claims.

Furthermore, taking precautions to prevent wind damage can preserve your house and lessen the probability of disagreements. Roof reinforcement, storm shutter installation, and outside item security can all help to reduce damage from windstorms. Some insurance companies offer discounts for these preventative measures, potentially reducing your premiums.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I think my wind damage claim was underpaid?

If you suspect your wind damage claim was underpaid, begin by evaluating your insurance policy and claim settlement offer. Compare the settlement amount to your repair estimates. Contact your insurance adjuster to explain the differences and provide further paperwork as needed.

How can I know whether my wind damage claim was underpaid?

To evaluate whether your wind damage claim was underpaid, get a thorough repair estimate from a competent contractor. Compare this estimate to what your insurance company supplied. Check whether all damaged areas were included and if the labor and material charges are acceptable and in line with industry norms.

Can I contest the settlement amount proposed by my insurance company?

Yes, you can dispute the settlement amount. Give your insurance company extra documentation, such as images, repair estimates, and professional evaluations. Request a reassessment from the insurance adjuster. If the disagreement remains unresolved, you can seek help from a public adjuster, mediation, or legal action.

What is a public adjuster, and how can they assist me with an underpaid claim?

A public adjuster is a qualified practitioner who helps policyholders settle insurance disputes. They may assist you by analyzing your claim, documenting the losses, and negotiating with the insurance company to achieve a fair payout.

To sum up, handling an underpaid wind damage claim requires diligence, persistence, and a thorough understanding of your insurance policy. Every step, from documenting the damage to negotiating with your insurance, is critical to receiving the money you deserve. Being proactive and knowledgeable allows you to manage the complexity of the claims process while protecting your financial interests.