If your home has been damaged or you have been seriously injured in an accident, the last thing you want to do is spend time dealing with your insurance company. But, it is important to have coverage, and you need to be able to rely on your insurance company when the time comes.
So, what happens when your insurance company won’t pay? What if you have been paying your premiums and you have filed a claim that is clearly covered by your policy, and your insurer is still denying coverage? Here are 10 tips for homeowners and accident victims in Oregon:
Tip #1: Re-Read Your Homeowner’s or Auto Insurance Policy
First, before you accuse your insurance company of improperly denying your claim, you need to be absolutely certain that your claim is covered. So, you should re-read your homeowner’s or auto insurance policy to make sure that:
- The incident that damaged your home or led to your accident is covered; and,
- You have taken all of the necessary steps to file a compensable claim.
Of course, this is often easier said than done. Insurance policies are complex and densely worded, and it isn’t always easy to figure out what you need to know. Additionally, you should not rely on your insurance adjuster to tell you what your policy says. If you need help understanding your policy language, you should have your policy reviewed by an attorney.
Tip #2: Know the Difference between Good-Faith and Bad-Faith Insurance Denials
There are two kinds of insurance denials: good faith and bad faith. If your insurance company has denied your claim in good faith, then you do not have a claim to pursue (unless you have made a correctable mistake, which you will need an attorney to help you determine). However, if your insurance company has denied your claim in bad faith, then you may be entitled to additional compensation.
Tip #3: Know Your Rights If You Are a Victim of Insurance Bad Faith
Under Oregon’s bad-faith insurance law, policyholders who have their claims denied in bad faith are entitled to seek additional compensation (or “damages”) based upon their insurance companies’ fraudulent practices. Bad-faith insurance practices can take many forms, including (but not limited to):
- Failing to conduct a timely and adequate investigation;
- Ignoring key facts;
- Not communicating with you;
- Forcing you to take formal legal action; and,
- Misrepresenting the terms of your policy.
Tip #4: Continue to Handle Your Claim Responsibly
Even if your insurance company is acting in bad faith, you still need to continue to handle your claim responsibly. This means continuing to respond to all communications from your adjuster, following up regularly, and complying with the terms of your homeowner’s or auto insurance policy.
Tip #5: Do Not Take Matters into Your Own Hands – Yet
At some point, you may become tempted to take matters into your own hands. For example, if you can’t get your homeowner’s insurance company to approve an estimate, you may be thinking about hiring a contractor on your own and hoping to be reimbursed later. While this might be an option that you have available, before doing anything that involves paying out of pocket, once again, you should discuss your options with an attorney.
Tip #6: Avoid Other Mistakes That Could Justify a Denial of Payment
When dealing with a bad-faith insurance denial, there are other mistakes you need to avoid as well. For example, you should not leave nasty voicemails for your adjuster, and you should not complain about your insurance company on social media. As we mentioned in Tip #4, continue to handle your claim responsibly, and focus on using the available legal means to secure the coverage to which you are entitled under your policy.
Tip #7: Understand Your Insurance Company’s Motives
Most people have some fundamental misunderstandings about the insurance claims process through no fault of their own. The insurance companies tell us that they make it easy to file claims, that they look out for their policyholders, and that they are on our side. However, when you file a claim, the insurance company has a financial incentive to settle your claim for as little as possible. So, even if it seems like your adjuster is trying to be helpful, the truth of the matter is that it is his or her job to avoid approving a settlement if at all possible.
Tip #8: Make Sure You Know the Amount of Coverage to Which You Are Entitled
Throughout the process of dealing with your insurance company, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that your losses are continuing to accumulate. If your home has been damaged, the damage may need to be fixed in order to prevent it from getting worse. And, of course, you do not have full access and use of your home. If you have been injured in an accident, you may be incurring additional financial and non-financial losses on a daily basis, and this could continue well into the future.
Once you are eventually able to secure payment, you will need to know the full amount that you are entitled to recover. If you don’t, you will never know if your insurance company truly paid what you were owed.
Tip #9: Do Not Give Up Hope
While dealing with your insurance company’s bad-faith practices can become overwhelming, it is important not to give up hope. You have options available, and an attorney can help you secure the coverage (and perhaps additional compensation) to which you are legally entitled.
Tip #10: Discuss Your Claim with an Experienced Oregon Attorney
If your insurance company is refusing to pay, your next step is to speak with an attorney in Oregon about your legal rights. Hiring an attorney can get your insurance company to take your claim seriously, and your attorney will be able to clearly explain everything you need to know about your policy and your insurance company’s bad-faith insurance practices. At D’Amore Law Group, we offer free consultations, and we encourage you to contact us to speak with one of our experienced attorneys in confidence.
Contact the Oregon Lawyers at D’Amore Law Group
Do you need help dealing with your homeowner’s or auto insurance company in Oregon? To discuss your claim with an attorney at D’Amore Law Group for free, please call or contact us online now.