Fire Damage Insurance Attorney in Colorado
Losing your belongings or even your entire home to a fire is a devastating event. While your last thought may be on the insurance process, it is imperative that you start your claim as soon as possible. Doing so will allow you to settle more quickly and obtain the funds necessary to replace and repair your home.
Should I Get a Lawyer After a House Fire?
The first thing you should do after a house fire is contact your insurance company and start the claims process. However, there are certain instances when you may consider hiring an attorney to help with the process:
Your Fire Damage Claim is Taking Too Long
In the event that your claim appears delayed, despite your cooperation and complete documentation, it may be time to hire an attorney.
Insurance companies have a duty to their policyholders to process claims in a timely manner. Slow or confusing communication, lost paperwork, or other general signs of an adjuster mishandling a claim should be addressed through litigation.
Your fire Damage Claim Was Unfairly Denied
If you feel your claim was unfairly denied, this is another reason to seek legal counsel. In the event that the fire was an accident and you have submitted all your paperwork on time, at least part of the damages should be covered. It is a good idea to talk to an experienced insurance attorney to discuss your claim and review options to appeal the denial.
Your Settlement is Lower Than Expected
If you have received a settlement that is significantly lower than the amount you submitted on your Proof of Loss form, you should seek help from an insurance attorney. Your adjuster has a duty to thoroughly go over your specific policy with you and discuss expectations for settlement. If you feel blindsided by your settlement, it may signal other issues with how your claim was handled.
Reasons Fire Insurance Companies Deny Fire Claims
Sadly, there are legitimate circumstances when an insurance company may deny your fire damage claim. These include the following:
- You are Underinsured
In many cases, coverage limits are determined by the resale value of your home and not the amount needed to repair or rebuild it. This means that all costs associated with clearing debris and construction would fall on you, not your insurance company.Fortunately, there is something called Ordinance or Law Coverage, which pays for the difference between resale value and the costs of renovation/construction. Ordinance or Law Coverage can be purchased on top of regular homeowners insurance.While this may be unhelpful for those already afflicted by a fire, it is good to keep in mind the next time you are buying insurance for your home.
- The Home was Vacant
Most policies do not cover fire damage that occurred in an unoccupied home. If it was determined that the house was abandoned or had not been lived in prior to the fire, the claim is likely to be denied. In certain circumstances, owners of unoccupied housing can purchase specialty vacant home insurance policies.
- Suspicion of Arson/Legal Activities in the Home
If there is any reason to believe the fire was started on purpose, the insurance company will open a criminal investigation and you can expect the claim to be denied. Likewise, if there is evidence of criminal activity, such as the manufacture of drugs, your claim will be denied.
- Electrical Work Performed Without Permits
Electrical work should be performed and regularly inspected only by licensed individuals. Keep all records stored with your other insurance documents to prove new work and upgrades was done with a permit and according to local building codes.
- Your Home Uses an FPE Panel
While these are not terribly common anymore, the Federal Pacific Electrical company installed millions of these panels in homes between the 1950s and 1980s. If your home was built between these years, you will want to make sure the panel has been replaced. These FPE panels were ultimately found to be faulty in handling the electrical grid, posing fire risk.
- Policy is in Arrears or Deadlines Not Met
Your insurance company is not legally obligated to pay any claims made if your policy is in arrears-that is, you have fallen behind on your premium payments. Likewise, they may stipulate in their contract with you that they can deny all or part of a claim when you fail to submit paperwork by certain deadlines.
- You Have Inflated or Over-Estimated Damages
It is important to be as thorough and honest as possible when you submit your initial Proof of Loss statement. Padding the amount requested is a red flag to insurance companies, who are well aware of reasonable value and will take the time to cross reference documentation with reported losses. If it is found that you have inflated the cost of property damage, the company may deny or reduce your settlement.
How Much Will It Cost to Hire an Insurance Attorney?
At The Roth Group, we operate on a contingency fee basis. We will not accept any payment from you until we have won your case. Then we will charge a percentage of the settlement amount. We will, of course, have discussed this percentage with you ahead of time.
How Do I Find a Fire Insurance Attorney?
A good insurance attorney should have plenty of experience dealing with similar claims and have a great track record for success. He or she should be compassionate and sympathetic to your loss. Your lawyer should also be willing to go to court for you, if necessary. The insurance attorney at the Roth Group has years of experience helping hundreds of clients reach fair claims settlements. Call our office or go online to schedule your first consultation, which is completely free.