Property insurance is often thought of in terms of natural weather events such as hurricanes. But it also protects homeowners and others from damage caused by intentional actions, like vandalism. If your property was vandalized and you’ve been a faithful policyholder, you naturally expect your insurance company to pay for the damage. But what happens if the insurer fails to uphold its end of the agreement?
It’s time to speak with Palumbo Law. We represent property owners who have dutifully paid their insurance premiums but have been denied good faith treatment by their insurance companies. We can review your claim and get to work demanding the payout you deserve.
Why Do Policyholders Have Problems With Their Insurance Companies for Vandalism Damage?
If you’ve paid your premiums on time and have otherwise complied with your obligations under the insurance policy, then you should have no problem receiving a fair payout on a vandalism claim. Of course, it doesn’t always work out this way in the real world. Insurance companies routinely put up roadblocks to make it difficult for policyholders to get the money they need to repair or replace their real and personal property.
These are some common issues property owners run into with vandalism losses:
Denied claims. Sometimes, the insurer simply denies the claim. And there are a number of reasons the insurance company could give for doing so, such as:
- The policyholder failed to pay premiums on time
- The claim was not filed on time
- The policyholder made false or misleading statements about the vandalism
- The policyholder made a material misrepresentation about the property at the time coverage was obtained
- A claim was excluded by the terms of the policy
- The policyholder was negligent in allowing the vandalism to occur
Often, these are baseless assertions that amount to nothing more than an excuse to not pay.
Underpaid claims. Your insurance company may not deny the claim, but that doesn’t mean you will receive a reasonable payout for the vandalism damage. The insurer may, for instance, only pay part of the claim, fail to conduct an adequate investigation or attempt to pay the cash value instead of the replacement cost.
Bad faith. This is a broad category of complaints against insurance companies. It essentially amounts to dishonest tactics on the part of the insurer to either underpay a vandalism claim or deny it completely. As just one example, the insurance company may intentionally drag its feet, hoping the policyholder will either give up or accept less than the claim is worth.
Alleged vacancy of the property. With respect to real property, such as a home, most insurance policies will not provide full coverage if there’s evidence the property was vacated for a certain period of time (e.g. 30 to 60 days or longer) when the loss occurred. The homeowner may have a difficult time proving the property was in regular use.
What Should You Do After Your Property Is Vandalized?
After your property has been vandalized, the steps you take could prove critical in whether you receive a fair payout from your insurance company. Here is what you should do:
Contact the police and file a police report. A police report is an essential piece of evidence in vandalism damage insurance cases. The report will help establish basic facts like the location of the vandalized property and the identity of the owner (you, your spouse, or another family member). As soon as possible, you should obtain a copy of this police report. Review it and notify the police department if there are any errors.
Take pictures and videos of the property. This is an indispensable step in documenting what exactly happened. The more pictures and videos, the better. It’s a good idea to narrate the video as you record it by describing the location (for example, which side of your house) and the date and time. Make sure you store the pictures and videos in a place where you won’t accidentally delete or lose them.
Talk to your neighbors. It’s possible that your neighbors may have witnessed the vandalism. With the prevalence of home and outdoor surveillance cameras, the incident may have even been recorded. Ask your neighbors to give you a written statement and provide a copy of any video footage or photos they may have.
Review your policy and file a claim. Next, get a copy of your insurance policy and make sure there is no exclusion language or anything else that could cause issues with coverage. Your policy should explain how to file a claim, and you should do so as soon as possible. A delay in filing could make dealing with the insurance company much more difficult.
Keep a copy of all documents and take notes. Be sure you keep a copy of any written correspondence you receive from your insurance company, including your claim number. Also, make notes of any phone conversations you have with a claims adjuster or other representative. Written documentation can establish, for instance, how quickly you filed your claim. Meanwhile, detailed notes can refresh your memory as to important facts later.
How Palumbo Law Can Help
If you run into problems with your insurance company, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney. At Palumbo Law, we have experience serving the legal needs of policyholders whose property vandalism claims were unjustly denied. We know not only the laws surrounding insurance coverage but the language that insurers use in their policies. Policies are contracts, and it’s essential to have a thorough understanding of the various terms that form the backbone of your coverage.
Our goal is to try to resolve any disputes with your insurance company outside of court. Doing so is in everyone’s best interests while saving them time and stress of litigation. But if the insurance company refuses to act in good faith, we can take your case to court. That’s the level of service you can expect from a comprehensive insurance law firm.
Don’t let the insurance company take away your right to fair treatment and payment on your property vandalism claim. Give Palumbo Law a call today.