If you own your home or condo, or even run a brick-and-mortar business, you likely pay premiums every month for property insurance. This is so that in the event your property is damaged or goes missing after something like a natural disaster, accident, or theft, you aren’t left paying for all those repairs and replacements entirely out of your own pocket.
But like with nearly any type of binding contract between two parties, caveats, exclusions, loopholes, and misunderstandings tend to exist. And when it comes to your home, the worst time to find out about any of those is when the damage has already been done and your claim is being denied. That’s why it’s so important to understand your insurance policy and what it may or may not cover well before the time comes when you need to use it.
Know What Types of Insurance Exist
Your coverage largely depends on what your insurance provider is able to offer, but most heavily relies on what kind of contract you have with them. So if your provider is refusing to cover certain damages or missing items after an accident, it could very well be because that coverage simply isn’t included in your plan. That’s why it’s so important to not only make sure you keep your insurance plans updated to meet your home and your family’s needs, but to also make sure you understand your policy and what you’re actually entitled to under it.
There are generally two types of insurance policies that exist: one for coverage of only the items directly named in your contract, and one that offers coverage in much broader strokes. Coverage specifically for named items tends to be more common because it leaves less liability on the provider to cover the loss, and also tends to be cheaper for the customer every month. In these cases, the home is insured for something called “named perils,” whereby nothing is covered unless it’s specifically listed in your policy. The “perils” that homeowners are most concerned about are usually covered under these plans, like fire damage, water damage, and theft.
With a broader coverage plan, “risk of direct physical loss” is the phrasing used to describe what’s covered, and that essentially means that all losses and damages to your home are covered except for those specifically written into your policy as excluded. In many ways, it works opposite to a named perils plan. So for example, if you’re repainting your living room and drop your paint bucket all over the floor, getting your floors cleaned and replaced may actually be covered under this plan if this specific scenario of spilled paint causing the damage was not listed as excluded.
Know What Insurance May Still Not Cover
Under either a broad or more defined plan, many insurance providers may still require addendums or add-ons to your standard plan if you want to guarantee coverage for those items. That can even be the case for coverage listed in broader terms. And adding these additions or addendums, unfortunately, will often require higher monthly premiums.
These types of additional coverage items most often include:
- Flood damage (which is different from generic water damage)
- Earthquake or sinkhole damage
- Sewer backups (often caused by tree roots)
- Normal wear and tear (rather than damage by a sudden or unexpected accident)
- Poor workmanship on behalf of the original builders or contractors
- Burst pipes specifically caused by negligence on the homeowner’s part
- Pest infestations
- Acts by the U.S. government or war damage
- Nuclear accidents
- Intentional or illegal acts by the homeowner
- Injuries caused by certain high-risk dog breeds (like Doberman Pinchers, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Pit Bulls, to name a few)
- Home construction or renovation damage
- Expensive items (usually anything worth more than $2,500 unless you have a separate addendum for that item specifically)
- High-risk items (like swimming pools and trampolines)
- Home business assets (because you’re expected to have separate or added insurance for your business)
When it comes to the above items, it never hurts to find out more. Talk to a representative from your provider (preferably before the time comes when you need insurance for one of these items) to see if it’s something their company offers, and how much it would cost for you to add it to your plan. If it’s available and affordable, weigh the costs of paying extra for it every month against the likelihood of it happening in order to determine if it makes sense to add to your plan.
For example, many parts of the state of Florida experience hurricanes every year that can be unpredictable with their scales of damage. For that reason, it absolutely makes sense for homeowners—at least in more hurricane-prone areas—to add specific flood damage addendums to their plans. They may even want to double check what kind of coverage the “wind damage” portion of their policy really provides.
Know When to Seek Legal Help for Your Claim
There are generally two paths you can take in an effort to try and get your property insurance claim paid out by your insurance provider: by either working with them directly on resolving all the issues yourself, or enlisting the help of an experienced property claims attorney to step in on your behalf.
It’s entirely possible to have a good working relationship with your assigned claims adjuster and get all the coverage you need in a timely manner. But if there’s a lack of understanding about what kind of damage your policy covers, miscommunication between yourself and the adjuster, or there’s some type of bad faith on behalf of your insurance company to fulfill the duties required by them per your contractual agreement, then it’s much harder to get the repairs you need without a little extra help.
If you’ve read through your coverage policy and have a clear understanding of what it consists of, are certain that your policy covers the damages suffered, and have followed all the required steps of documenting the damage to your home and filing your claim in a timely manner, your insurance provider should be ready and willing to help. But if you’ve been unable to get your insurance provider to agree to cover the damages your home is entitled to, it may be time to seek the help of an expert.
When you contact a property insurance lawyer, you should first expect to receive a free consultation with someone from their team. That way they have a chance to review your insurance policy, learn about the damage your home has suffered, how you’ve been treated by the insurance company, and can then let you know if they believe you would benefit from a lawyer. There may be some cases in which an attorney will understand the legalese of your contract better than you do, and can point out why the insurance company might be denying coverage. In that case, the attorney may be able to advise you on your next best steps to take, which may not always be to continue pursuing your claim.
But if the attorney believes you are being wrongfully denied coverage you’re entitled to, it’s likely they will want to step in and help you seek it out. When this happens, they’ll liaison with your insurance adjuster on your behalf to point out where the company has gone wrong and what they should be doing to make up for it.
The Whisler Law Firm is one such legal expert who is eager to fight for the coverage you deserve. We’ll work with you to help you better understand your insurance policy, why your provider may or may not be wiling to cover certain damages, and what your options are. And we always start that process with a free consultation. Call our office at 833-529-5677 or fill out our easy online form to schedule yours today.