There are two types of fires; the good fire like the one in your fireplace to warm your home when it’s cold or bad fire like a wildfire. During extended periods of drought and heat, wildfires often start and may spread from one property to another, causing significant damage. Fires may also occur due to an accident or arson attack. Inadequate wiring, cooking accidents, careless smoking, candles, and grease fires are just a few of the numerous reasons why fires start.
Wildfires tend to cause fatal and non-fatal injuries as well as significant damage to property. Most high-risk areas experience a total burn down. This often leads to victims filing billions of dollars in fire claims. Nonetheless, insurance policies are usually written in ambiguous language and drafted by a team of attorneys with vast experience in fire claims. Insurers know they have an upper hand when it comes to dealing with claimants. They unreasonably delay payments, force policyholders to jump through endless hoops to get paid, put up expensive red tape, and many are the times when they flat out refuse to pay. This can make it hard for one to obtain a fair settlement if all their property was lost in the fire. Moreover, with this kind of widespread destruction, it can take longer to resolve an insurance claim. And with wildfires increasingly becoming a prevalent threat, insurers are constantly coming up with tactics and techniques that will help them cut corners and save money. Contractors may also charge more than the amount your insurer will reimburse to rebuild what you lost.
Losing a loved one to a wildfire is like losing a part of you and losing your property is like losing your legacy. It’s all devastating and the last thing you want to deal with is your insurer giving you a hard time and denied your claim. While we can’t bring back what you lost, our attorneys may help you recover the compensation you need to move forward. We can help identify what caused the wildfire and appeal your denial so you get a satisfactory settlement.
Liability for Wildfires
Liability for a wildfire is typically determined by how it began. Though a wildfire may seem like a natural catastrophe, there is usually an individual or organization to blame for starting the fire. In California for instance, one of the leading causes of wildfires is downed power lines. Poor maintenance is likely to be a contributor to the downed power lines that start the blaze. If a power line accidentally falls and starts a destructive wildfire, there’s a probability that the local municipality shares the responsibility. Furthermore, some cities and counties refuse to shut down grids in the event of a fire, which is likely to fuel the length of the blaze.
Also, arson and general negligence may contribute to devastating fires. An individual may deliberately start a blaze for the purpose of vandalism or insurance fraud. In other instances, a property manager may fail to incorporate fire-resistant materials on a property. While identifying liability in some of these cases may be easier, some insurance claims are more abstract. Affected residents in some areas are usually left debating over whom to hold liable for housing built in fire-risk locations, with some arguing that bad planning is to blame. As such, irresponsible planning or construction of homes and apartments may create new risks.
It takes creative thinking and broad experience to successfully handle this type of claims because of the significant damage that a wildfire can cause. Stop Insurance Denial Law Firm attorneys have vast experience and knowledge necessary to investigate these types of cases. If you got injured or lost your property in a wildfire, we can help you understand the law and gather evidence to support your claim. And if you already filed a claim but it has been denied, we can help you appeal the insurance company’s decision and get the coverage you need. With years of experience and dedication, you can be confident that we will explore all the options you have.
Filing a Wildfire and Loss Insurance Claim
Fire insurance is basically meant to protect you and your property in the event of a fire. The details of insurance policies vary based on the person, injury, asset, geographical location, and fire type. Typically, insurance companies use a variety of factors to rank different locations as low to high risk of wildfire. The higher the risk, the higher the premium you pay and the more the chances of having your claim denied.
Also, when there are many wildfire catastrophes experienced, fire insurance tends to constantly change. This leads to situations where insurance companies take a hard look at fire claims. They will try to lower your claim and to add insult to the injury; they will unjustly deny your claim.
Tactics that insurance companies use to lower settlements include:
Insurance companies purposely draft their policies in confusing language and many people are deterred from reading through their entire insurance agreement. Out of pocket costs, deductibles, coverage, and other items may be miscalculated due to complex and unnecessary narratives.
Your insurer may alter the terms and conditions of your policy without your knowledge, especially during insurance policy renewals. Some insurance companies are so aggressive with this technique that many states have laws to limit the changes.
Quick settlement offer
When your insurer is quick to offer you a settlement for wildfire damage and loss, proceed with caution. This tactic is often used by adjusters to exert pressure on policyholders pushing then to receive compensation before they even understand what the full extent of the damages is.
Refusal on renewal
Thousands of fire insurance policies in the country are denied renewal particularly if the policyholder resides in an area prone to wildfire disasters.
Many of the tactics used by insurance companies to delay, deny, or offer a lowball settlement are illegal and may require retaining the services of a season insurance denials lawyer to fight back against these unethical tactics and enforce that they honor their policies.
Why a Legitimate Wildfire Damage and Loss Claim May Be Denied
The last thing anyone who has lost their property or a loved one to a wildfire wants is to get a call or letter notifying them that their valid insurance claim has been denied. After being faithful in paying your premiums every time they’re due, policyholders expect valid claims to be fulfilled but this expectation has proven to be too high in most cases. Many people have their valid claims denied without even getting an explanation. Dealing with an uncooperative insurance company can leave a homeowner frustrated and desperate.
Just like any other business, insurance companies are there to make money, minimize expenditures and maximize profits. This is why they usually avoid payouts to clients as a way of protecting their fiscal bottom line. Nonetheless, the insurer must have a justifiable reason for denying an insurance claim. Many states have embraced, in some form, the Unfair Claims Settlement Act which focuses on protecting the insured from deceitful or wrongful actions by their insurance company. Here are some of the most common forms of unfair claims handling:
- Allegations of arson
- Undervaluing damaged assets
- Failure to carry out investigations in a timely manner
- Violation of the terms and conditions of the insurance policy
- Threatening the policyholder in an effort to lower settlement
- Denial of full insurance claim despite adequate supporting evidence
What a Denied Wildfire Damage and Loss Claim Means
When selling a product, insurers will make all kinds of promises and assurances but at the end of it all, they are businesses and their existence depends on getting a higher amount of money than they disburse. Adjusters are therefore instructed to be very particular with regards to which claims they fulfill. To harmonize the tension that exists between policy fulfillment and profitability, insurers are legally bound to act in good faith with policyholders. This means that they must acknowledge a claim and initiate investigations within 15 days of filing. As such, a policyholder should expect to receive notice of acceptance or rejection by the 15th day.
If your claim has been rejected, the insurance company has a legal duty to provide explanations. This means that your notice of rejection should also explain the reasons why your claim has been denied. There are plenty of legal reasons why your claims may be denied but sometimes insurers will unjustly deny claims.
Insurance Claims for Commercial Property Owners
Suspension of business activity:
If you can no longer accomplish your usual business’s operating expenses as a result of fire damage, these operating expenses may be covered in an insurance claim.
Cessation of operation claim:
If your business can’t run properly because some of the assets were destroyed in the fire, you may file for suspended operations to cover the expected missed revenue.
Damage Received to the Assets:
A property damage claim can be filed if your property received damage by a fire-related incident.
A business owner may be entitled to receive a claim amount of the business faces extra expenses. These may include the cost of moving to a new location, paying additional workers to keep operations open or ordering products from different locations.
Bad Faith Cases
Under the United States law, an insurance company owes a policyholder an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Being denied coverage for wildfire damage and loss may constitute a breach of contract and bad faith. Therefore, an insurer can be sued for a tort claim and contract claim. In a contract claim, the plaintiff will obtain coverage for the actual damages suffered. Conversely, in most U.S jurisdictions, a tort claim allows the policyholder to receive punitive damages. Insurance companies have to comply with a set of standards when dealing with insurance claims. This means that they must act fairly and in good faith. Insurance companies are deemed to have acted in bad faith by:
- Failing to promptly acknowledge the claim and act reasonably
- Misrepresenting to claimants’ important facts
- Failing to settle disputes quickly
- Failing to adhere to and implement reasonable standards
- Not attempting in good faith to effectuate quick, equitable, and fair settlement
- Directly advising a plaintiff not to seek legal counsel
- Misleading a plaintiff as to the appropriate statute of limitations
- Attempting to resolve a claim by the policyholder for way less than the amount covered
What Can You Recover?
Structural damage, smoke damage, water damage, damage to the building’s electrical or plumbing system, and damages to personal possession are some of the damages likely to be suffered following a fire. With the help of experienced Stop Insurance Denial Law Firm attorney, you can recover the following:
- Loss of businesses, assets, income
- Replacement value of your house and personal property
- Bodily injury to you or your loved ones, including loss of pets and wrongful death
- Cost of fire-related medical care
- Loss of use of real and own property as a result of a wildfire fire
- Cost of reinstating and reforesting your land as a result of the fire
In addition, if you’ve lost valuable heirlooms, pets, and keepsakes to the wildfire, you may be entitled compensation for emotional damages. Protecting the interests and rights of the insured so not always on the top of insurance companies’ priority list, most of the time they’re more concerned about protecting their own rights and their bottom line. But a seasoned lawyer can help review your policy in order to maximize your benefits.
Tips to Help Improve Wildfire Damage and Loss Claim
Be careful about what you say and keep track of all communication: If an insurance adjuster contacts you, it’s best if you don’t talk directly with them regarding your incident. You may give a statement that is incriminating, only for it to be used against you to deny your claim. Always let your lawyer do the talking because they’re able to speak with your insurer in a manner that won’t divulge any information that may negatively affect your claim.
Also, be sure to keep track of all communication between you and your insurer, including post office receipts of mailing and all other relevant documents. Take notes of time and date of every face to face meeting and phone conversation, and also include the name and title of the individuals you speak with. Keep original documents of everything: insurance forms, emails, permits, notes, invoices, and contacts for repair.
File your claim right away: Prompt action in the event of a fire is crucial because there are usually many other people affected. If you don’t act immediately, it’s highly likely that you will fall bottom of the list of insured individuals with wildfire insurance claims. This may extend the time it takes for an insurance adjuster to visit you.
Mitigate damages: If you were affected by smoke or the wildfire only damaged a portion of your home, be sure to take proactive measure and secure your property to prevent further damage. You can also secure it to prevent thefts and break-ins.
If you claim has been denied or your insurance is offering a lowball settlement, don’t accept it: Jumping the gun on the first offer that you get can be a costly mistake. Also, it doesn’t mean that you should give up when your insurer out rightly denies your claim. Contact a skilled wildfire damage and loss attorney who is adept in negotiating with insurers. If your insurer plays a hardball, an aggressive legal team can help file a lawsuit and take them to trial if needed. This can significantly maximize any potential compensation you’re entitled to.
Also, keep track of your medical or living expenses while you’re displaced from your damaged property and keep paying your insurance premiums. If you need help gathering the relevant documents needed to appeal a denial or negotiate a settlement with your insurer, you may benefit greatly from retaining the services of a skilled wildfire damage insurance denial attorney who’s able to explain your rights and help you take the next legal steps.
Finding a Wildfire Damage and Loss Insurance Denial Attorney Near Me
Have you sustained injury or lost a loved one in a wildfire? Has your commercial property, apartment, or home been damaged in a blaze but your insurer has negligently denied your claim? You do not have to feel that all is lost after the wildfire. The Stop Insurance Denial Law Firm team has made a career of fighting battles against large corporations on behalf of victims all over the United States. You already battled the wildfire; let us battle the uncooperative insurance company.
In the event of a wildfire, insurance companies are usually dealing with a large influx of claims all at one time, and they may try to look at their bottom line by refusing coverage. This unreasonable action usually leaves the victims with nowhere to turn to. Policyholders faithfully pay their premiums and possess a sense of security in the fact that they will be covered should a disaster happen, but some insurance carriers abuse that trust. But we can help. We know and understand how difficult it is to lose a loved one or lose your possessions and that’s why we stand ready to help you get the most financial recovery for your losses.
If your wildfire damage and loss claim has been disputed, delayed, or denied in bad faith by your insurer, contact our seasoned legal team today for a free, initial consultation. Dedicated, aggressive, and fearless wildfire damage and loss insurance claim legal representation; that’s what we offer.
Call 310-878-1771 now.