Did you just get your payout amount back from your insurance adjuster or insurance company? If the amount seems right and fair, you accept the payout and get your property back to pre-disaster condition and move on. If you don’t feel that the amount is correct or fair, don’t be intimidated by your insurance company or the insurance adjuster. You have rights.
You can challenge their payout amount and negotiate with your home insurance company’s adjuster. Not all, but many insurance companies offer low initial offers, because they win if you accept it. In very few cases, do they expect the insured policyholder to negotiate with them for a higher amount or expect you to hire someone to advocate for you with your insurance company. Unfortunate right! They give you a low initial offer to see where it will go. Delivering a low initial offer is a win-win situation for an insurance company. If you reject it, then they may have another, more reasonable offer lined up. If you accept that one, then the insurance company avoids a long negotiation process, while saving money from what they maybe could have or should have paid out for your type of claim.
There are two important things to remember when negotiating with your insurance company’s and/or your home insurance adjuster:
- Your Insurance Company is Legally Obligated to Act in Good Faith. When you sign and then pay for a home insurance policy from your insurance company, you’re entering into a binding agreement. In your contract, it clearly states what your insurance company must cover and the types of damages they must cover in that policy. If an insurance company is refusing to cover damages that should be covered, as per your policy (agreement), then the insurance company may be acting in bad faith. If the insurance company is intentionally stalling or failing to thoroughly investigate your claim, then the insurance company may be acting in bad faith. Insurance companies that act in bad faith are liable for lawsuits. Lawsuits can be very expensive for insurance companies, and they’ll typically do whatever they can do to avoid a lawsuit.
- You Have the Upper Hand. A home insurance adjuster usually deals with several insurance claims on a weekly basis. However, you have the upper hand because your focus is on your claim. You can be the expert of your own claim. Take advantage of expert knowledge by seeking additional insight and help from others who work with insurance companies and insurance adjusters on a regular basis, such as restoration companies, rebuild contractors, an attorney who specializes in insurance, and maybe even contact your state insurance board to better understand your rights, and then go back to negotiate with your home insurance adjuster.
Many insurance companies operate in good faith and handle your insurance claims appropriately and in a timely manner. It is sad though that there a quite a few other insurance companies that do not. Being better educated in this area and knowing your rights, you will be armed with the right information and processes to help you ensure you are getting the level of service you deserve and your contract is being honored.