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A Michigan homeowner insurance claim lawyer will help you with your property damage claim after a fire, natural disaster, flood, or other accident.

Insurance companies are famous for denying valid claims and refusing to pay the actual amount for a loss. They need to be held accountable.

Buckfire Law sues insurance companies that wrongfully delay, deny, and defend legitimate homeowner insurance claims.

We file lawsuits to make them pay every penny of a claim.

About Homeowner Insurance Policies

Homeowner insurance is a type of property insurance that covers losses and damages to a person’s residence. It covers damage to the interior and exterior of home and other structures on the property, as well as contents inside the home.

Homeowner insurance also provides liability coverage against personal injury accidents in the home or on the property, such as a fall on ice or a dog bite attack.

Mortgage companies require that a loan borrower have a homeowner insurance policy on the property. This protects the mortgage holder’s interest in the property in the event of a fire, flood, or other type of serious damage.

Proof of insurance is typically required on a yearly basis.

All of the major insurance companies sell homeowner coverage. This includes:

  • State Farm
  • Allstate
  • AAA
  • Progressive
  • Geico
  • Hanover Citizens
  • Auto Owners
  • USAA
  • Nationwide
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Travelers
  • Farmers
  • Farm Bureau Insurance

Many companies bundle the coverage with your auto policy. A homeowner insurance claim lawyer at Buckfire Law will deal directly with the insurance adjuster.

Property Insurance Coverage Information

All insurance policies have limits of liability for different coverage. For example, a typical homeowner insurance policy will have a limit for the value of the home, a limit for property contents, and another limit for personal injury liability.

The insurer does not have to pay more than the limit for a claim.

Every insurance policy has a list of damages covered for specific events stated in the insurance contract.

There is often a dispute whether the insurance company is required to pay a claim. When this happens, the courts look to the specific language of the policy to determine if coverage applies to a loss.

Some policies have written exclusions for certain losses. This could include floods, sewer backups, hurricanes, and earthquakes.

Many insurance companies require additional premiums those events. It is important to fully understand the types of coverage provided by your policy.

Replacement Cost Insurance vs. Actual Cash Value

The amount of money you receive for your property damage claim depends on the type of coverage.  You should check your policy to see if you have replacement cost insurance or actual cash value coverage.  The difference in the payment amount can be substantial.

Actual cash value (ACV)  is the depreciated value of an item of property at the time of the loss.  You only get paid the value of the current value of the item.  For example, if you purchased a large screen TV a few years back for $ 1,500.00, it may only be worth $500.00 when it was destroyed.  The insurance company will only reimburse you $500.00.  You basically get the depreciated value of the property and may have to pay out of pocket to purchase a similar item.

Replacement cost provides you with a payment equal to that which would be required to replace the damaged or lost items. It is much better than Actual Case Value because you get money to buy a new, replacement item even if the updated version is a superior product.

Be aware that your insurance company may try to settle your claim for Actual Cash Value, even though you have Replacement cost coverage.  If this happens, you will need the legal representation of an experienced homeowner insurance claim lawyer.

Common Homeowner Insurance Policy Claims

The pie chart below shows the distribution of damage types of property damage in 2017.

The most frequent type of property damage is wind and hail — ahead of fire and lighting.

Approximately 75% of all damage is experienced through those two types, while water damage, theft, and other damage make up the remaining 25%.

Michigan homeowners insurance lawyer - Buckfire Law

Windstorms and Hail Storms

A windstorm is generally classified as a storm with heavy winds but little or no rain. Their winds can travel more than 30 mph and cause falling trees and flying objects that damage a home.

Hailstorms can cause serious damage to a home, including broken windows and sky lights.

Windstorms and hailstorms are the No. 1 type of home insurance claim. Approximately 35 percent of all claims are filed for these weather conditions.

In addition to physical damage, they can cause power outages and electrical surges that damage electronic equipment and appliances in the home.

Many polices cover damage caused by power surges and most property owners are unaware that this is a covered event.

The insurance company should pay for the replacement or repair of items damaged by electricity and utility power.

Fire Damage Claims

Fire damage claims, including those caused by lightning, are the No. 2 most common homeowner insurance claim. They account for 35 percent of all claims.

Fire claims are often substantial because of the damage caused to both the physical structure and the contents inside the home.

The cause of the fire plays an important role in coverage issues. Most fire causes are covered unless they involve arson by the policyholder or someone at the request of the property owner.

If a fire was caused by a defective product, the insurer will often pay the claim and then sue the product manufacturer for reimbursement. This is called a “subrogation claim,” because the insurer stands in the shoes of the policyholder to demand reimbursement for monies paid on the claim.

Water Damage

Water damage from plumbing, water heater, heating or cooling system or appliance is the No. 3 claim most common property damage claim.

The source of the water often determines whether coverage will pay for the loss.

The insurance company may argue a loss was not covered because the water damage was caused by a condition that is specifically excluded under the policy.

Smoke Damage

Smoke damage from a house fire can result in the total loss of personal property.

Smoke can also damage the drywall, floors, and other parts of a home. Coverage is generally provided for smoke damage claims, especially if it results from a fire that is afforded coverage under the policy.

Roof Damage

Roof damage can occur due to a tornado, high winds, lightning, or a falling tree. Replacing a roof or even the shingles can be very costly.

If the damage was caused by a covered event, the insurance company must pay for the cost to repair or replace the roof.

Lightning

Lightning storms are common in the Midwest and especially in Michigan. Lightning that causes damage from a direct strike is generally a covered event.

Fire damage that results from a lightning strike is also typically covered under a property insurance claim.

Flooding Damage

A flood is often a natural event. It can occur from excessive rainfall itself, or the rain can cause an overflow of water from rivers or lakes causing property and home damage.

Many polices cover flood damage claims, but others require additional coverage. This is often based on whether the residence is located in a “flood zone,” which is a geographic area that has a history of floods.

Your insurance adjuster should tell you if you live in a “flood zone,” but many do not.

If you live in an area with a history of floods or close to a body of water, you should ask if you need to purchase a flood coverage. Without it, there may be no insurance to pay for your property loss.

Water Pipe Bursts

Water pipe bursts are a serious problem for a homeowner. Many pipes burst from freezing conditions and others occur due to old pipes.

The cause of the pipe burst or leaking plumbing will determine if it is covered under a policy. Many times, a pipe that bursts due to age or maintenance is not covered.

Theft

Theft is generally covered under most policies. This involves a burglary at the home and even property stolen away from the property.

Certain items, like laptops, may even be covered for students living away from home.

It is important to ask if more expensive items, like computers and jewelry, are covered or if you need to buy a separate policy in the event they are stolen.

Vandalism

Vandalism involves the intentional destruction of a person’s property. Many polices provide coverage caused by vandals.

If the vandals are caught by the police, the judge may require them to repay the insurance company and you for the damage caused to the property.

Personal Injury Claims

Virtually every homeowner insurance policy has coverage for a personal injury claim. This includes injuries caused by negligent acts both on and off the property.

Examples include dog bites, injuries due to a defective premises, and injuries to children resulting from dangerous objects in a home.

Most policies do not pay for intentional acts, such as assaults or libel. In addition to providing coverage, the insurance company will also pay for a lawyer to defend your claim.

It is important to properly submit a claim to your agent to guarantee that you will be defended in a case.

How Do I File a Homeowner’s Insurance Claim?

The first step is to report the claim to your insurance agent or directly to the company. Many companies now have both app and online claim submissions.

It is important to file your claims immediately because a delay can negatively affect your payment.

You should also take photographs and video all damage immediately after the event. Also, try to find receipts for all damaged items.

If items were purchased years ago, then take good photos and write down the make and model number of the item. For clothing, simply make a list of all damaged clothes.

The bar chart below shows the average homeowner claim amount for different types of losses in the United States from 2013-2017.

Fire and lighting was the most expensive loss and more than double the amount of any other kind of loss experienced by homeowners.

Michigan homeowners insurance loss severity graph - Buckfire Law

The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to call you for information. The adjuster will likely give you some preliminary instructions and arrange to visit the property for an inspection.

You may want to hire your own public adjuster to evaluate your loss instead of relying on the insurance adjuster.

The adjuster will also tell you exactly what is covered under the policy and the payment limits.

You likely have coverage for a hotel stay, food, and laundry if you must relocate while the property is being restored.

Many times, the company will give you an advance so you can purchase clothes and other necessities during the claims process.

Can I Sue the Insurance Company for Refusing to Pay?

You can sue an insurance company for refusing to pay or underpaying your claim. It is important to have an experienced homeowner insurance claim lawyer review your policy and the denial letter by the adjuster.

Many times, a claim is denied for an unlawful or improper reason. When this happens, your only recourse is to file an insurance lawsuit to demand full payment of your benefits.

There are also occasions to file a bad faith claim. This arises when the company acted unlawfully in handling your claim.

Our property damage attorneys will evaluate your loss and your claim and help you pursue all possible legal actions against the insurance company.

How Do I File a Property Damage Insurance Lawsuit?

A property damage insurance lawsuit is like all other breach of contract lawsuits. The legal basis of the lawsuit is the interpretation of the contract language and how it applies to your claim.

Our lawyers draft a legal pleading, called the Complaint, and file it in the county courthouse. We then serve it on the insurance company and the litigation process begins.

If the case cannot be settled, a judge or jury will decide who wins and render a verdict for the prevailing party.

If you win, the insurer may be liable for interest and attorney fees in addition to paying the claim.

Get Help from our Michigan Homeowner Insurance Claim Lawyers

You need an award-winning law firm that fights insurance companies on a daily basis.

Buckfire Law has battled insurance companies in Michigan for more than 50 years. Put our homeowner insurance claim lawyers to work for you.

We will represent you under our No-Fee Promise. This means you there are no legal fees unless you receive a settlement. And, we do not get paid until you get your settlement check.

Time is of the essence in winning your case so do not delay. Call us now to get started on your case.

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