After a major storm or fire, your first view of your severely damaged property could be an overwhelming experience. How do you decide which issues to attack first? Can you expect a property insurance company to pay your claim promptly?
The attorneys at our Fort Lauderdale insurance claim law firm can attest to the fact that major claims do involve specific processes that take time. Still, policyholders have rights, and need to recognize signs that their insurers are unreasonably delaying decisions or payment.
FL Insurers Must Acknowledge Claims Quickly
The first step of the process is to make sure your claim is acknowledged in accordance with Florida Office of Insurance Regulations rules. In essence, insurers must acknowledge a claim within 14 days of notification. Unless they issue immediate payment or have other permissible reasons for extending acknowledgement beyond this deadline, acknowledgement generally includes providing the claimant with forms and other needed information to allow the claim to move forward, and scheduling an appointment to view and estimate the damage.
If you receive no claim acknowledgement within this time frame, you should directly contact the insurance company again to learn reasons for the delay. If you feel uncomfortable with their explanation, it is best to seek legal advice to help avoid unnecessary delays. Also, be sure to keep a diary to document every effort you make to contact your insurance company
Recognizing the Signs of Unreasonable Delays
Not all claim delays are unreasonable, but understand that insurance claims adjusters and other representatives can offer explanations that sound reasonable, particularly to claimants who are naturally flustered by the circumstances of their losses. The following situations can signal that the insurance company is using unfair delay tactics:
- Repetitious questioning: It is reasonable to expect your insurer to seek full information surrounding the causes and other details about your claim. When they ask the same questions repeatedly, or take the information by phone and later request it again in writing; or if they ask for copies of the same documentation multiple times, they may be unnecessarily delaying the claim.
- Pointing fingers to explain delays: Your insurance company is ultimately responsible for retaining control over every aspect of your claim. If they blame delays on third party investigative firms or even point to other offices within their companies to explain paperwork delays, it may be a sign that they are stalling on a claim.
- Reducing or denying claims without documentation: When insurance companies submit claim settlement offers, they cannot issue payment until you sign off on the paperwork. If they make that offer without clearly explaining the policy considerations or the background numbers that justify their decision, you are forced to ask questions, which, of course, delays payment of your claim.
- Purposely misinterpreting clear policy language: The language in your insurance policy can be difficult to understand, but it is generally not open to excessive interpretation. Since insurance company representatives generally understand the language quite well, obvious misinterpretations can signal unreasonable delays — or even bad faith payment practices.
Perhaps one of the biggest signs of any type of insurance bad faith is when your insurance company advises you to avoid seeking legal support. If you receive this advice or as soon as you suspect that your claim is being unreasonably delayed, you need to get in touch with an attorney who is well-versed in all insurance regulations. To help ensure that you receive fair treatment throughout the claims process, call us at (954) 767-6333 or use our convenient online contact form.