Tactics the Insurance Companies Use to Avoid Paying Fort Lauderdale Homeowners

Understanding the complicated web of homeowners’ insurance claims in Fort Lauderdale can be difficult, mainly when insurance companies use a variety of tactics to limit or deny legitimate claims. Insurance companies are businesses that strive to keep costs low while increasing their profits. As a result, some insurance companies might participate in questionable activities to avoid paying out what policyholders are legitimately entitled to. They may disguise these tactics as protocol, procedures, or simple “oversight,” but it is often a deliberate strategy to reduce their financial responsibilities.

Fort Lauderdale homeowners who suffer property damage rely on their insurance company in their recovery process. After all, people buy insurance to have a safety net in case something unexpected happens. However, homeowners may find themselves fighting these corporations uphill without proper representation and knowledge.

They use a variety of tactics, some of which we outline based on our extensive experience at Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys, ranging from delaying claims to underestimating repair costs to outright denying valid claims. As experts in homeowners’ insurance claims, we are committed to shedding light on these practices and providing our clients with the information and help they need to get the compensation they deserve.

What Are Some of the Common Tactics Insurance Companies Use to Avoid Paying Homeowners?

When homeowners file an insurance claim, they have a right to expect a fair, quick response. However, many encounter opposition and tactics designed to reduce the insurance company’s payout. Insurance companies often use various strategies to avoid paying the total claim amount despite portraying themselves as allies. Awareness of these strategies can help homeowners protect their rights and receive the compensation they deserve. These tactics include the following:

Acting Friendly, Like They Care

Establishing trust is a strategy used in many business interactions, but when an insurance adjuster does so with a hidden agenda, it is cause for concern. While a friendly demeanor is comforting, it can also be deceptive. Some adjusters purposefully use this approach to make claimants feel understood and supported. However, beneath this mask, the true goal may be to persuade claimants to accept less favorable terms, believing the company truly has their best interests at heart, when the true goal is to protect the insurance company’s financial interests.

Claiming False Deadlines

When an insurance adjuster applies tight deadlines, alarm bells should go off. They may claim that there are limitations on time for filing a claim, submitting specific documents, or even accepting a settlement offer. This creates a sense of urgency, causing homeowners to make rash choices without enough thought. While timelines are standard in insurance processes, fabricated urgency may stop claimants from gathering the necessary information or obtaining counsel.

Delaying the Process

Procrastination is not only a human flaw; it can also be an institutional strategy. Deliberate delays in processing or responding to claims can put a homeowner to the test. Insurance companies intentionally lengthen the process in the hopes that frustrated homeowners will settle for a lower amount to finalize a claim that has taken longer than it should.

Drawn-Out Negotiation Tactics

Negotiations can take time, but homeowners should be cautious when insurance adjusters use stall tactics. Exhaustion and desperation can result from lengthy and seemingly unnecessary rounds of negotiation. Some insurance companies are banking on this fatigue, hoping that homeowners will eventually accept settlements that are less than their rightful entitlement.

Ignoring Evidence Provided by Homeowners

In some cases, insurance companies can ignore or dismiss proof or evidence provided by homeowners, such as photographs, receipts, or contractor estimates. This enables them to argue that the damage was less severe than claimed or that it was pre-existing, leading to a lower payout or claim denial. During the claims process, homeowners must keep careful records and be relentless in showcasing their evidence.

Misrepresenting Policy Language

Insurance policies are notorious for their dense legal jargon and complex terms, which can be confusing to the average homeowner. Some adjusters might intentionally misinterpret or misconstrue this problematic language, leading homeowners to believe that their claim is invalid or that a specific type of damage is not covered. They hope to deter claims or reduce payout amounts by creating doubt about the policy’s actual rules. Homeowners must understand their policies and, when in doubt, speak with legal experts or trusted advisors to ensure they get a fair assessment.

Offering False Promises

Trust is an essential component of any agreement. When insurance companies make promises only to break them later, it is not only unethical but also damaging to the claimant’s trust. Making promises of full reimbursement or quick claim resolutions, only to break those promises with creative excuses or buried policy terms, can leave homeowners feeling betrayed and uncertain.

Requesting Unnecessary Documentation

Documentation accuracy is critical for insurance claims, but there is a fine line between being thorough and being obstructive. If an adjuster requests excessive paperwork or documents that appear to be unrelated to the claim, it could be an attempt to confuse, frustrate, or trip up the homeowner, hoping they will make mistakes or get discouraged.

Telling You to Not Enlist an Attorney’s Help

Professional advice often forms the foundation of a successful insurance claim. If an insurer claims that obtaining legal counsel will complicate or increase the claims process, you should question their motives. Such a recommendation could be an attempt to prevent homeowners from getting expert knowledge that they could use to challenge the insurance company’s stance or terms.

Tricking You to Admit Fault

Communication with insurance adjusters requires careful attention. Crafty questioning or phrases designed to lead claimants into self-incrimination can be traps. Adjusters might hope that through these means, homeowners might inadvertently take on some responsibility for the damage, ultimately lightening the insurer’s financial obligation.

Undervaluing Your Claim

One of the most obvious ways for an insurer to save money is to offer less than the actual value of a claim. Undervaluation on purpose, whether for repair costs, replacement items, or overall damage, can significantly reduce the payout. Homeowners should always look for independent appraisals in order to prevent potential undervaluation.

Using Policy Loopholes

Every insurance policy has its fine print, and adjusters know it by heart. Some might cite lesser-known or obscure policy clauses as reasons to deny or reduce your claim’s value. It’s essential to be familiar with your policy and, if possible, consult with an expert to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.

Other Signs Your Insurance Company May Be Untrustworthy

When you file an insurance claim, you expect your insurance company to act in your best interests. Specific actions or tactics, however, could suggest that your insurance company is not being completely honest or is attempting to undervalue your claim. It is critical to be aware of these warning signs in order to protect your rights and obtain the coverage you deserve.

Bringing an Engineer in to Deny Your Claim

If your carrier sends an engineer to evaluate the damage, it may raise eyebrows. Engineers regularly look at a property’s structural integrity, and their findings may influence the outcome of your claim. Their goals may not always line up with yours. As a result, if your insurer sends a claims denial specialist or an engineer to your home, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney or even hire your own expert to ensure you protect your claim.

Delaying Your Mitigation Company

When your property sustains damage, a mitigation or disaster restoration company can help prevent it from getting worse. If your carrier deliberately holds up this process, it could result in more extensive damages, suggesting they are not concerned with your well-being.

Invoking the Right to Repair

Insurance companies can sometimes use the “right to repair” clause to save money. If your insurer exercises this right and your roof subsequently leaks, it suggests that they opted for a less expensive repair over quality. To avoid being taken advantage of, you should be familiar with this clause as well as your homeowner rights.

Refusal to Pay ALE

Additional Living Expenses (ALE) coverage protects homeowners from financial hardship when damage makes their homes uninhabitable. If your carrier refuses to pay your ALE, this is an obvious sign that they are not acting in your best interests.

Trying to Suggest Roof Repair Instead of a Replacement

If your insurer suggests you repair your roof when your roofer recommends you replace it, that’s a red flag. The brittleness of a roof, as determined by the “Brittle Test,” can influence its repair ability. Your insurance company might be trying to save money by repairing a roof that genuinely needs to be replaced, putting you at risk for further damage down the road.

In all of these cases, having an experienced attorney or public adjuster on your side can make a big difference in ensuring you get fair treatment and the compensation you deserve.

Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself Against Dishonest Insurance Companies

Dealing with an insurance company that seems to be acting in bad faith can be both frustrating and financially taxing. Insurance companies have a legal duty to act in good faith, which means they must handle claims promptly, fairly, and honestly. If you feel that this hasn’t been the case, you can take protective measures to ensure your rights are upheld.

Step 1: Document Everything

The first step is to document all of your interactions and complaints. Send a detailed complaint outlining your concerns to your claims handler. This will provide concrete proof of your efforts to resolve the problem. Support your concerns with any relevant evidence, such as earlier messages, invoices, receipts, damage photographs, or estimates.

Step 2: Reach Out to the State Department of Insurance

Every state has a governing body that oversees insurance operations. By reporting your concerns to your state’s insurance department, you start a formal process that may include an investigation into the company’s actions. Suppose they find your insurer to be negligent or in violation of state regulations. In that case, they might be subject to penalties, which could serve as a catalyst for them to investigate and correct your complaint.

Step 3: Consult a Legal Professional

If you believe your insurer is not honoring your policy or is actively attempting to undercut your claim, you should speak with an attorney. An experienced lawyer will be familiar with state-specific insurance laws and can advise you on the best course of action. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may be entitled to compensatory damages (which compensate for actual losses) and punitive damages (which are intended to punish wrongdoing).

While these steps may appear daunting, they are critical to ensuring that you get treated fairly. It’s always best to approach such issues proactively, with the goal of getting the coverage you’ve paid for.

Experienced Fort Lauderdale Lawyers

Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys has long been a symbol of hope for Fort Lauderdale homeowners, helping them deal with the often murky waters of insurance claims. With the ever-changing nature of challenges presented to homeowners, from cast iron pipe issues in older homes to the massive destruction caused by events such as Hurricane Ian, having a skilled attorney on your side has never been more critical.

Our team has been essential in helping homeowners get their rightful claims for a variety of issues, including fire outbreaks, sudden floods, and more insidious mold growths that endanger both property and health. Given the unique challenges that Fort Lauderdale residents face, particularly with the increasing likelihood of increased hurricane activity, Schilling & Silvers Property and Accident Attorneys has demonstrated our unwavering commitment to ensuring homeowners don’t get left in the dark.

We serve as both advocates and educators, with a thorough understanding of the various damage claims, ranging from the typical water damage woes to the more catastrophic effects of hailstorms. Our legal counsel and expertise extend beyond the courtroom, reminding homeowners of the importance of preventative measures such as regular roof inspections and home maintenance. Fort Lauderdale homeowners can have peace of mind in the face of adversity, knowing that Schilling & Silvers is on their side.

In addition to Fort Lauderdale, our legal team also serves Pompano Beach, Miami, Weston, Plantation, Hialeah, Sunrise, Davie, Fort Myers, and more. Contact our Fort Lauderdale homeowners’ insurance attorneys today!