Fire losses can be tricky. The claims process can often feel like an uphill battle. Then there is the problem of time constraints. In some cases, it can take well over a year to complete the claims process. This means homeowners are left without compensation for their losses for a year or longer.
For many insurance companies, it also means you are approaching or past the time limit the insurance company offers for you to file a suit against them. Most companies have a policy allowing you a year from the date of the fire to file a suit against them.
Before you do anything else, whether you believe you will need to file a lawsuit over your claim or not, you need to protect your right to do so. Some states offer legal protection from this provision. They do this by automatically providing you with a specific number of days, once the file is settled and the claim is closed by the insurance company, in which to file suit.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an across the board case and varies from state to state. This places the responsibility to protect yourself on your shoulders. If your state does not offer this important protection, you may be out of luck for a long claims process unless you take preventative action.
How Can You Protect Your Right to File a Lawsuit on Long Claims?
Obviously you can’t file a lawsuit if you haven’t received word from the insurance company about your loss. So, how do you protect your legal right to protest an unfair judgment?
As you approach the one year anniversary of a fire and the insurance company is still finalizing decisions, you need to write a letter to the insurance company stating the following:
- Your confidence the insurance company will offer a fair and just judgment.
- Your assurances you will continue to cooperate with their requests.
- Your acknowledgment of the time constraints established in the policy for filing a lawsuit and your certainty the insurance company will not enforce these constraints since the claim remains open and you have nothing, as of yet, to protest.
- A formal request that the insurance company notify you in writing once the adjustment process is complete and they have paid all they will be paying you.
End the letter with a note that if you do not hear back from them you will assume their understanding of the points you’ve mentioned. Send the letter via certified mail with a return receipt and keep a copy of the letter and the postal documents in a safe place.
Why Would You Need to File a Fire Insurance Lawsuit?
While we’d all like to believe that insurance companies have this benevolent desire to protect families and help them recover in the aftermath of unexpected fire losses to their homes, this isn’t always the case. In fact, insurance companies are businesses with a primary goal of making money.
Fire insurance applies to homes and businesses. Many mistakes can be made in the claims process that will cost home or business owners a great deal of money – money the insurance policy should cover according to the terms of the policy. Home and business owners are often in emotional states at the time of the fire, and for a long period of time afterwards. It may take a while to fully process the wrongdoing or honest mistakes the insurance company makes.
These mistakes can include:
- Disputes over the cause of the fire.
- Disputes over loss of business claims.
- Disputes over personal property coverage or values.
- Bad faith on behalf of the insurance company.
- Attempts by insurance companies to deny coverage completely.
- Unfair delays in the claims process or of paying home and business owners claims.
- Ignoring inventory documents.
- Applying depreciation to policies for replacement value coverage.
Fire insurance lawsuits are rarely a first choice when dealing with tricky insurance situations. They become necessary, however, when insurance companies go out of their way to make things difficult for home and business owners or engage in deceptive, dishonest, or simply unfair practices.
It’s important that you protect your right to not only file a fire insurance lawsuit when treated improperly by insurance companies, but also to get the compensation your policy allows in the aftermath of a fire.
We can help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today to learn more about your case and the next steps you can take.