Should I Get a Lawyer After a House Fire?
A house fire is a devastating event, one that can leave a homeowner in emotional turmoil. Even worse, after a valid fire damage insurance claim is submitted, the homeowner’s insurer can deny it. In such cases, it is helpful to consult a fire damage insurance claim dispute attorney.
Homeowner’s insurance premiums are pricey. The average premium is $1200, but costs vary from state to state and among different properties. Homeowners expect that in the event of fire damage, any legitimate claims submitted for compensation will receive a fair evaluation.
Unfortunately, insurers are capable of denying valid fire damage claims without explanation. Insurance companies may resort to employing a wide variety of tactics to avoid compensating the policy holder. In some cases, the insurer will grossly underpay a fire damage insurance claim.
What are the hazards of fire?
House fires of any size are highly destructive. Small flames can spread quickly, engulfing the property within seconds. Besides the hazards of the actual fire, its byproducts, like soot and smoke, can cause further, and oftentimes permanent, ruin to household goods.
In the US, residential fires are the most common types of fires that necessitate property damage claims. Cooking, electrical problems and appliance malfunctions are the leading causes of home fires. Billions of dollars in total losses occur each year as a result of property fires.
Once the flames are extinguished, repairing the damaged home is a critical step. In the aftermath of a serious fire, homeowners will need to secure compensation from the homeowner’s insurance company in order to proceed with repairs, replacement and, if necessary, relocation costs.
Why may an insurer deny a fire damage claim?
A homeowner who submits a fire damage claim to the insurer typically is given a state-mandated time frame within which to receive payments for covered losses. Depending on the state, this window of time can range from 14 to 90 days.
Prior to submitting the fire damage insurance claim, it is important for the homeowner to review the insurance policy and determine what losses are covered. The insurance company can deny the claim if the fire damage losses are not covered under the insurance policy.
Plus, the homeowner is advised to check that limits on existing coverage have not been exceeded and that any deductibles are met before filing the claim. An insurance company may have reasons to deny the claim, but decisions may be reversed if errors or false allegations of fraud are made.
An insurer may deny a claim when premium payments are late or missed, there is a lack of evidence for losses, the homeowner files for losses that are not covered, a claim is filed beyond the time frame stated in the policy or the coverage limits have been exceeded.
Insurance companies are also known to wrongfully deny or underpay claims. When either occurs, a homeowner should request a second review of the claim to determine whether or not adjuster errors were made. If the insurer refuses an additional review, the homeowner has legal recourse.
Delayed insurance payouts are also reasons to seek out a fire damage lawyer. A homeowner can take legal action against the insurer, holding the company accountable for the compensation of insured losses. Not all insurance companies work in good faith or may mishandle claims.
Mishandling claims is unlawful. Examples of ways an insurer can mishandle claims include undervaluing property damage, delaying payments or refusing to review a claim. Failing to provide the homeowner with an explanation for a denied claim is also an act of mishandling.
An insurance company may even allow inadequately trained adjusters to handle a claim, ignore evidence of property damage or falsely allege fraud or arson. In such instances, the insurer is acting unjustly. A fire damage lawyer can be useful in disputing a mishandled claim.
In what ways does a lawyer help after a fire damage claim?
An attorney can help the homeowner navigate the complex fire damage insurance claims process. Specific ways a skilled lawyer can assist the homeowner include compiling evidence, explaining the policyholder’s legal rights, and arriving at an estimated value for the insured losses.
While it is known that insurance adjusters work on behalf of the insurance company and may provide inaccurate assessments of the extent of fire damage, a lawyer can step in to determine what the insurer overlooked. An attorney can also provide cost estimates for needed repairs.
A homeowner distressed by a house fire may accept any meager settlement offered by the insurer. An experienced lawyer, however, will ensure that the homeowner receives the full amount of compensation. Negotiations with insurers are also handled professionally by a lawyer.
Fire Damage Restoration Services
Fire damage can cause severe damage to not only the home but to its occupants. Once the safety of others has been secured after a house fire, it is important to rebuild. ServiceMaster EMT provides immediate smoke and fire damage restoration services to affected property owners.
Swift action is crucial once flames have swept through a home. Fire damage spreads rapidly, causing secondary damage, like etching and discoloring. Our technicians arrive promptly to stabilize the building and reduce the risk of further structural damage. Fire damage cleanup is our next step.
ServiceMaster EMT technicians conduct emergency pre-cleaning and pack-out services. We thoroughly clean the walls, ceilings, carpets, and upholstery. All traces of soot and smoke are eliminated. The foul smells left by the fire are removed via our odor removal process.
Our experienced technicians are also skilled in water damage restoration. A property can quickly undergo water damage after the fire officials extinguish the blaze with hoses. Property owners can turn to ServiceMaster EMT for comprehensive water and fire damage restoration services.
As a local fire restoration company based in California, Nevada and Arizona, our specialists arrive at your fire-damaged home or business quickly. We are available 24 hours a day to respond to fire damage emergencies.
When you are faced with fire damage, call ServiceMaster EMT at (800) 376-6678 for quality restoration.