Acts of God: Dealing with Property Damage Appeals
Acts of God like hail, fire, floods, or tornadoes are typically covered under the homeowner’s insurance policy for any kind of property damage.
But the rules and definitions are not the same across the board. Most prominently, the exact definition of an “Act of God” can vary depending on the insurer. Certain events may or may not be covered.
It’s always best to get a lawyer’s professional opinion before moving ahead. For example, a property damage lawyer in Houston can help you understand your situation better and find out what are your options and the expected procedure.
First of all, we need to look at the definition of an Act of God. An Act of God is generally any event that’s outside human control. It’s also unpredictable and unpreventable—Like a natural disaster. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, hail, etc. are the most common Acts of God that can lead to significant property damage.
The terminology used to describe an Act of God will differ from policy to policy and insurer to insurer. That’s why it’s important to fully understand what it means in your context.
Double-check the Insurance Policy
Review your homeowner insurance policy to determine if the event is covered. Only certain Acts of God are covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning storms, wildfires, windstorms, and volcanic eruptions.
Usually, flood and earthquake damage aren’t covered by these insurances. In these cases, homeowners need to add separate flood and earthquake insurance to be covered for those kinds of losses.
It’s highly recommended to check and then double-check your insurance policy to fully understand the description of an Act of God and which events or natural disasters are covered. In some cases, there’s some variance among different magnitudes of the same kind of disaster, such as coverage for damages resulting from a specific tier or range of hurricane damage.
All of this is very important to understand before you pick up the phone and call the insurance company. Your claim can be easily shot down if you’re not going through the right channels and more importantly, with your homework.
Filing a Claim
Once you have made sure that the event is covered under your policy, it’s time to file the claim. File the claim with your insurer as soon as possible as in some cases, they can take a while to process it.
You will need to fill in accurate descriptions of what happened and how much damage have you suffered. Provide detailed and accurate information about the damage you have received. You should also include the related expenses such as purchases or repairs you had to make to prevent further damage or ensure safety.
Here’s the general process of filing a claim with an insurance provider:
- Notify your insurance provider in time. Many insurance policies have specific timeframes for reporting damage, so it’s essential to act swiftly.
- Document the full extent of the damage before you make any repairs or adjustments. Take pictures and videos of the damage and create an inventory of the affected items.
- Carefully review your insurance policy to understand the coverage and exclusions related to Acts of God.
- our insurance provider will provide you with a claim form to fill out. Provide accurate and detailed information about the circumstances of the damage, the cause, and the items affected.
- Submit any supporting documentation alongside the claim form. This can include pictures, videos, invoices, receipts, and repair estimates. These documents, as long as they come from reliable and professional sources, can help validate your claim.
- If the initial settlement offer from your insurance provider is insufficient, don’t hesitate to negotiate.
- In complex cases, you might benefit from hiring a public adjuster or legal counsel specializing in property damage claims.
Pay attention to every detail and don’t back off from negotiating further if you think you’re not being justly compensated.
Meeting with an Adjuster
Your insurer will likely send an adjuster to assess the damage and determine the amount of compensation you’re entitled to. Be open and clear about the damage and the expenses you had to make. Adjustors have likely seen similar damage countless times before and therefore; they should be dealt with carefully.
They will have an idea of what damage you have suffered and also extensive knowledge of the kind of compensation or the procedure relevant to your case.
Cooperate with the adjustor and provide access to your property. You should discuss the extent of the damage and the cost of the repairs. Also, the adjustor or the insurance company might give their repair estimates but it’s always a good practice to engage a third party.
Seek estimates from reputable contractors or repair professionals to determine the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged property.
At this point, it might be pertinent to get in touch with a lawyer from your side. Different lawyers specialize in different areas and you should look into hail damage attorneys in Texas or a fire insurance claim lawyer, for example, depending on the kind of damage you have.
If nothing else works and the insurance company simply refuses to respect your concerns and pay you what you deserve by acting against your best interests, then it’s recommendable to get in touch with a bad faith insurance lawyer to see what options are available to you.