Are You Unsure of What You Should Do If You Are The Victim of Unfair Claim Practices?
You purchase an insurance policy and make payments each month. With that, you have the security and peace of mind to know you, your loved ones and your property will be protected in the event of a mishap or accident. Unfortunately, sometimes people encounter problems when they file a claim. An insurance company may resist paying the full claim or avoid paying altogether. These tactics are known as unfair claim practices. How do you combat them? Craig Harrell, your independent public adjuster in Florida, explains how in this article.
Unfair claim practices are illegal
Your insurance policy represents a signed legal agreement with your provider. The policy requires your insurance company to cover certain damages when they occur under any of the stipulated circumstances. Unfortunately, some insurers try to reduce their costs by denying or limiting claims—even if those claims are valid.
Examples of unfair claim practices:
Delays – When you file a valid claim, you expect prompt payment. An insurance company may use tactics to drag out this process.
- This may include:
- Failing to respond to communications from the policyholder
- Failing to confirm or deny coverage within a reasonable time frame after the claim has been investigated
- Failing to provide required forms within a specified period of time
- Requiring excessive proof before paying a claim
- Saying they never received the needed documentation.
These are all different methods of delay and are illegal practices of insurance companies.
Misrepresentation – An insurance company may claim certain circumstances are not covered in a policy when they are. Insurance policies are complicated documents; you may not understand all the terms and therefore may not fight for payment on a claim for something that genuinely should be covered under the tenets of your policy. Hiring a public adjuster can help. An adjuster is an experienced insurance professional who can read through the lingo and double-speak that is sometimes used in policy documents.
Unapproved changes – Sometimes, an insurance company tries to make significant alterations to a policy without the consent of the customer or without providing notification. For example, your insurer may claim you have a $50,000 limit on your policy when you requested a $75,000 coverage limit.
False advertising — Let’s say an insurer brings in new business by advertising flood damage insurance policies with extremely low premiums. Then, when a flood occurs, the customer learns that an additional premium was needed to get the coverage that was advertised. Sound unfair? It is.
Underpaying – Here is a scenario that sadly is all too common. You purchase coverage and file a claim. Your insurer may offer a settlement amount that you think is not enough or maybe even incredibly low. The only way to get full compensation is to pursue the matter in the courts, but when you’re already dealing with a major event like losing your home or business, the costs of suing an insurer may force you to settle for what you can get.
Unfair acts – These acts may include denying a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation of the incident, denying the incident that caused the damage ever happened, refusing to send a representative to inspect damages, or failing to provide prompt and fair settlement on a valid claim.
Fighting unfair claim settlement practices
Unfair claim practices are illegal in every state in the United States. If this happens to you, you’ll have to fight for your rights to get the settlement you deserve. Florida has its own version of the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, which is intended to protect customers from bad behavior by insurance providers.
Remember that an insurance company is like any other type of company; it’s a for-profit business. Insurers lose money when policyholders file claims, and therefore, unfortunately they sometimes deny claims or lowball policyholders in an attempt to improve their bottom line.
You’ve paid on your insurance policy and worked hard to protect your property. Don’t become a victim of unfair claim practices. If you’ve experienced any of the tactics above, a public adjuster can help. Unlike the adjusters who work for insurers, a public adjuster is there to represent and fight for your interests. An adjuster can understand your policy, identify if you’re a victim of unfair claim practices, and be your first line of defense to fight for yourself.
Craig Harrell and his team at Harrell Adjusting Services is proud to serve as your public adjuster throughout the state of Florida. They’re ready to fight for you against insurers who use unfair practices. Schedule an appointment today by calling the Harrell Adjusting at (863) 559-3405 or inquiring online.