Our Michigan fire damage lawyers help people not treated fairly by the insurance company after a fire loss.
Policyholders are often denied claims by the insurer even though they religiously paid their premiums for many years.
This causes anger, frustration, and feelings of disloyalty when the insurance company was supposed to be there to help.
Things to Do To Start Your Fire Insurance Claim
These are some tips of things to do to start a fire damage insurance claim. It is best to get started as soon as possible after the incident.
- Report the fire to your property insurance company immediately after a fire. The company will send an adjuster to the home or business immediately to begin assessing the damage.
- Make a list to identify as much property as you can that was damaged or destroyed. Try to remember to include everything possible, including clothing and personal items.
- Secure your property to protect all belongings still at the location. This includes covering holes in the walls to protect from rain, wind, or snow. Also board up the property and put up fencing to prevent looters from entering and stealing anything. Quite often, the insurance company will pay for a contractor to get this done.
- Keep track of all of your living expenses. If you relocate after a fire, your policy may pay for a hotel, meals, laundry, and other expenses.
- Hire your own private adjuster, also called a “public adjuster,” to assess the loss. This is especially important when a substantial amount of personal property is damaged or destroyed. This includes electronic equipment like computers and televisions, and home appliances. The insurance company adjuster may “low ball” the amount of your reimbursements to save the company money. If you have a private adjuster you can dispute the value of items proposed by the adjuster.
- Contact an experienced fire damage insurance claim attorney to give you advice from the start. By waiting too long, you may be stuck with what the insurance company chooses to pay you.
Was Your Fire Damage Claim Denied From the Start?
Many times, the insurance company will simply deny your claim after a brief investigation. The company may claim that you did not have a covered loss or the policy was not in effect at the time. It may also argue you violated the policy terms or that arson was the cause of the blaze.
The insurance policy language determines what is covered after a fire. A policy may only cover property caused by the fire itself. Other policies cover losses from smoke or water damage, even if caused by fire sprinklers or hoses used by firefighters.
What are Common Insurance Denials in a Fire Insurance Investigation?
Insurance companies hire their own investigators and adjusters. They often look for reasons to deny legitimate fire loss claims.
Common reasons for denying a claim include:
- The allegation of arson, either by the policyholder or someone on its behalf. The insurance company may try to prove the the insured person intentionally set fire to the property to make an insurance claim. This is a common argument that companies make to avoid paying a claim. Quite often, a trial is necessary to prove there was no arson.
- Valuation differences in the amounts claimed for building damage and personal property. The insurance company will argue that value of the items lost in the fire were much less than being claimed by the insured. There is often a battle between a private adjuster and the insurance adjuster on the value of personal items, even clothing and jewelry, damaged in the blaze.
- Disputes as to what personal items were actually destroyed in the fire. The adjuster will deny that certain things were present in the location at the time of the fire. If photographs, videos, or receipts exist to prove what specific items were damaged, this provides great evidence for reimbursement under the policy.
- Accusations of fraud in making the claim. These accusations include that insured filed fraudulent claims for property and overvalued the items lost in the fire.
Is there Coverage to Pay for Smoke and Water Damage?
Most homeowner’s and business property insurance policies pay for damage caused by smoke and water. Quite often, the property is damaged by extensive smoke even if it is not burned in the fire. Other damage is caused by water from the fire sprinkler system or from fire department hoses used to put out the blaze.
In other situations, items are damaged by water from rain or sleet that occurs during or after the fire. This causes substantial damage when the property is left exposed to the elements.
Your insurance company may deny your claims on the basis that they were not burned by the flames. In most cases, this is not a real defense and you should not accept this as a basis for not paying your claim. If this happens, you should hire an attorney to sue the insurance company in a fire damage lawsuit.
Largest Michigan Property Insurance Companies
If your property was insured in Michigan, it was likely with one of the major insurance companies. These are:
- State Farm
- Auto Owners
- Farm Bureau
- Farmers Insurance
- Citizens / Hanover Insurance Group
- Liberty Mutual
- Frankenmuth Mutual
Many commercial properties, like apartments, warehouses, and office buildings are insured through companies that specialize in business policies. These policies usually have higher coverage limits to pay larger claims. Your insurance agent will have all of the information regarding your policy, including your coverage limits.
Disputes as to the Value of Loss Claims
The biggest dispute in a fire loss claim is often the amount claimed by the policyholder. The insurance company adjuster will often grossly understate the value of the claim. The company will then attempt to make a low offer of settlement.
It is smart for the policyholder to hire a private adjusting company. The adjuster will give provide the real dollar amount of the loss. Quite often, the valuation difference between the private and insurance company adjuster provides the basis for a settlement.
What Can I Do About Insurance Denials and Delays?
In addition to denying your claim, the insurance company may also delay the payment process. It may be an attempt to induce to accept an unreasonably low amount. You should not be forced into this situation.
If your fire loss claim has been denied or delayed, you need the assistance of an experienced property damage law firm. These cases require significant legal expertise and a keen understanding of property insurance policies. They also require a lawyer skilled at fighting and negotiating with insurance companies.
It is important to get started as soon as possible before property is destroyed or removed from the scene. It must be itemized and photographed to document the loss. Video is often useful in submitting your claim.
Can I Sue the Insurance Company for a Fire Damage Claim?
You can sue the insurance company if your claim is denied or being unreasonably delayed. A lawsuit will be filed to demand full payment for the loss of the real property and personal property damaged in the fire. When the home or business property have substantial value, these cases are litigated like other large commercial lawsuits.
Most fire insurance cases settle before a trial. However, if the company refuses to be reasonable and pay your benefits, you are entitled to a jury trial on damages. Both sides present evidence and witnesses in the courtroom. The jury then decides who wins and how much should be awarded to the insured Plaintiff.
How much do Fire Insurance Lawyers Charge in Legal Fees?
Our experienced attorneys will handle your case under a contingency fee agreement. This means we do not charge any legal fees unless we recover a settlement from the insurance company.
We pay all of the case costs and expenses and it costs you nothing to get started. In fact, we only get paid at the end of the case when your settlement check is paid by the insurer.
Get the Best Michigan Fire Insurance Attorneys
You need an experienced law firm on your side. A firm that regularly battles with insurance companies and comes out on the winning side.
Contact us today and our attorneys will begin working on your case immediately. We move quickly to make the insurance company pay your claim so you can get your life back on track.
- 29000 Inkster Road
Southfield, MI 48034
- Phone: (248) 595-7544
- 19 Clifford St.
Suite 805 Merchants Row
Detroit, MI 48226
- Phone: (313) 992-8281
- 1001 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48226
- Phone: (313) 777-8482
- 343 S. Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
- Phone: (734) 888-3003
- 51424 Van Dyke Ave
Shelby Township, MI 48316
- Phone: (586) 250-2626