September 20, 2016

Today’s video is about fire losses and dealing with the insurance company.

Fire Damage Insurance Claims

Of all of the cases that I work on where I am helping my client deal with an insurance company, the toughest one to deal with is fire damage insurance claims. It’s the most personal… I mean think about it when people come to you and they tell you that an insurance company isn’t paying for their roof claim. It’s not that that’s not important, but it’s not personal. When people come to me after having gone through a fire, most of the time they are suffering from PTSD.

They have likely faced their own mortality, or the mortality of their family members. Insurance companies are bureaucracies. As much as the claims representatives try and be sensitive to the difficultly of dealing with an individual who has just been through a fire, they tend to be unsympathetic.

When you deal with fire damage insurance claims you’re really dealing with three different issues. You’re dealing with the people, the property and the future.

  1. The People

Let’s talk about the people. The reason you’re dealing with the people isn’t because you’re probably dealing with an insurance company over an injury. It’s more about the fact that there are people involved, which means that the insurance company is trying to investigate to determine what the cause of the damage was or they’re attempting to determine the extent of the damage and how to repair it. But the problem is that they forget that these are people that we’re dealing with.

I recently tried a case where most of the negative statements made by the insurance company during their closing argument came from a conversation that the claim representative had with my client within hours of the fire. When he didn’t testify exactly as he had said in his written statement at the time that they interviewed him. They tried to argue that his inconsistencies suggested deceit. We had to understand the human side of what had happened in order to be able to explain those inconsistencies to the jury.

2. The Property

The second issue you deal with is the property and that’s seems generally easy, but it isn’t. You can imagine smoke damage, water damage, fire damage – affects everything in a structure. It’s like living in a barbecue grill. And the insurance company’s claims representatives tend to have the idea that there is some way to clean something or to re-use something after it has been exposed to fire, but that’s rarely the case. You can’t clean drywall after it’s been exposed to fire, smoke and water. You can’t. They do it anyway.

Then there’s the issue of managing the property itself in terms of an inventory. Someone says to you, “you have a damaged computer. Okay, bring me the receipt to show me that you did in fact pay what you claim you did for that particular piece of property.” I don’t have receipts for those kinds of things in my house. In fact, what I tell people to do is once a year a camera -video camera- walk around your house and inventory the things that are in your home. You never know when a fire could come along and destroy not only the structure itself, but take every single piece of your personal property. And a video like that, saved somewhere else, gives you the evidence- the information you need in order to get an insurance company to pay you for that property.

3. The Future

The third issue we deal with is the future. What are we going to be doing with this particular house? Is this a building? If it’s a business, is this a building that can, in fact, be rebuilt? Can it? Maybe not? And that Is when insurance companies can bring in vendors who are looking to do anything and everything possible to save their money rather than rebuild your home or your business and put it back into the place it was before that fire occurred.

If you ever have a problem with a fire, you should understand that more than 90 percent of fire claims end up in litigation. Meaning that there are so many different things that we can fight about, or that we have problems with that insurance companies and insureds routinely end up in litigation over those kinds of cases and we bring our resources to deal with those type of problems.

You take care of your family and we’ll take care of the insurance company. Call us today!