Homeowners and property owners who suffered damage are likely in the process of filing a claim with their insurer. Ben Stewart, attorney at Stewart Law PLLC, says it is vital that policyholders know their rights when they file a claim.
"Insurers often do not advise claimants of all covered items in their policy," Stewart says. "Also, your insurer cannot apply a 'hurricane' or 'named storm' deductible to your policy. The insurer must evaluate, adjust and pay out your claim expeditiously in accordance with your insurance policy."
This means insurers should not use tactics to unreasonably delay paying out your claim. Tactics some insurance companies are accused of using include requesting paperwork that has already been sent, claiming paperwork has gone missing or been filled out improperly, or claiming that damage was caused by factors not covered in the policy.
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Business owners may file claims for property damage and, where it is covered in their policy, loss of business. Business owners may still have to wait to have their claim assessed, however, which could further delay reopening their business.
If an insurance company refuses to pay a legitimate claim or unreasonably delays payment of that claim, policyholders still have legal recourse. "You have a right to have a lawyer sue or arbitrate on your behalf against your insurance company if necessary," Stewart says. It might not be ideal, but if your insurance company fails to honor your policy, it may be necessary.
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