High winds can cause major destruction to homes and businesses. While you work to repair and clean up the mess, your home life or business operations will be seriously disrupted. Property insurance is there to cover the wind damage so you can get things back to normal. But what happens when your insurer refuses to pay on a legitimate claim? Who’s there to help if your insurance company decides to pay less than the claim is worth, or subjects you to unreasonable delays?
The attorneys of Palumbo Law understand the frustration you’re feeling. That’s why we exclusively represent policyholders and demand insurance companies treat them fairly. If your Rhode Island wind damage claim has been denied, delayed, or underpaid, turn to us.
Understanding Wind Damage
Many policyholders equate wind damage with hurricanes and tornadoes. While these can certainly be destructive, less severe storms can bring high winds and harm to your property. Even relatively minor storms can trigger sudden gusts that damage or destroy physical structures at your home or business.
High winds can rip away shutters and shingles, break windows, and cause structural damage. Wind can also cause secondary issues by blowing branches onto your roof, knocking trees into the side of your house, or hurling debris through your windows. Other items on your property like vehicles, tools, equipment, and lawn furniture could also suffer the brunt of high winds.
Structural damage comes in different forms. For example, high winds might remove shingles and thereby expose the exterior of the roof to the effects of rain and moisture. This sort of damage can lead to numerous other problems like mold or leaks.
If your insurance policy covers wind damage, and you’ve made all your premium payments, then your insurer should uphold its end of the bargain and cover the cost of repairing your home or business. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.
Examples Of Bad Faith Insurance Practices
Insurance policies are contracts. The policyholder pays, and the insurance company covers what’s included in the policy in return. That sounds straightforward enough, but far too many insurers find ways to skirt around what they’ve agreed to cover. Doing so is known as bad faith, and there are a number of such tactics insurers use such as:
Unreasonable delays. The insurance company should handle your claim in a prompt manner. This means responding to your claim and conducting an appropriate investigation within a reasonable amount of time. Your insurer should also make a decision on your claim relatively soon so you can take further steps as needed.
Denying your claim with no reasonable basis. Claim denials happen, but an insurance company has to have a legitimate basis to do so. If the wind damage in your case is excluded, then the insurer should be able to point to terms in your policy that show this. Too often, insurers mischaracterize the nature of the wind damage to attempt to falsely exclude it from the policy.
Attempting to underpay your claim. Having your claim approved by the insurance company doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive the amount of money it’s actually worth. Insurers routinely pay claims in amounts they know are unreasonably low under the circumstances. If you receive less than the claim is worth and the insurance company refuses to adjust the payout, you may have an argument for an underpayment.
Misrepresenting the terms of your insurance policy. Knowing the terms of your own policy is important because some insurance companies misrepresent them. This could include inaccurate statements about exclusions, the insurer’s legal obligations, and other aspects of either the policy or insurance law.
Untrue statements about policy lapses. Your insurance company may falsely claim you missed a premium payment, and that your coverage therefore lapsed. It’s important to keep all records documenting your premium payments so you can prove that your policy is current.
What You Should Do After Wind Damage
If your home or business has been damaged by wind, the first thing you need to do is locate and read your insurance policy to see if it’s covered. Ideally, this should actually be done long before you experience any sort of property damage. But if you haven’t done so already, find your policy and read what it says about wind.
Assuming the policy does cover wind damage, start taking pictures to document what happened. This includes any exterior damage as well as anything that may have happened inside a structure (home or business) because of the wind. Video may also be helpful. Along with this evidence, you should take notes on things like the approximate date and time the damage took place.
Your policy may require you to mitigate damage, which means taking reasonable steps to prevent further problems. For example, high winds during rain storms sometimes cause broken windows. If you fail to cover the broken window within a reasonable time and the rain damages something inside your home, the insurance company may assert that you failed to mitigate. Besides complying with your policy, mitigation saves you the headache of further unnecessary damage.
Contact Our Rhode Island Wind Damage Attorney
If your insurer is refusing to expedite your claim or won’t pay what it’s worth, reach out to Palumbo Law. We can review your policy and advise as to your legal options. Don’t let the insurance company deny a valid wind damage claim. Call us today to learn more.