Don’t Accept Claims Reports at Face Value—What You Need to Know

February 15, 2016

Don’t Accept Claims Reports at Face Value—What You Need to Know

Whether it’s property damage from a tornado or a hurricane, it’s easy to panic when disaster strikes. However, it is important to keep calm and immediately file a claim with your insurance company. To ensure your claim is paid in a fair and timely manner, however, you must carefully track the reporting process. Here’s what you need to know to do so.

The Engineering Report: Once you’ve filed a claim, your insurance company will send a third-party engineer to assess your property and will then write a report detailing the estimated cost to repair the damage. Ultimately, your insurance company will reference this engineering report when determining your settlement.

Fraudulent Reports: In recent years, unfortunately, many homeowners have fallen victim to fraudulent engineering reports. These reports frequently cited preexisting conditions, rather than the natural disaster, as the cause of property damage. The result: claims were wrongly denied.

“There’s no easier way for insurance companies to avoid paying claims than to argue that a storm didn’t cause the damage in the first place,” said Steve Mostyn, founder of Mostyn Law, a Houston-based law firm that specializes in hurricane insurance litigation. “Homeowners have to be very careful about ensuring they get an accurate, fair report.”

Protecting Yourself:

If you think the engineer’s estimate or your insurance’s claim decision does not fairly represent the amount or the extent of your property damage, it may be time get a another opinion.

“Always do you own homework, no matter whom they send out to assess the damage,” said Caroline Maida, lead attorney at Mostyn Law. “If you disagree with the report, hire your own person. The best choice is someone you know from your community, someone trusted, and someone licensed.”

Below you’ll find a few helpful tips to get you started on the right path during the property evaluation process.