If you are dealing with your insurance company (or someone else’s insurance company) because you were injured in an accident or your home has been damaged, you need to be careful in order to protect your claim for coverage. If you make mistakes, the insurance companies will use them against you. And even if you do everything right, you could still find yourself facing a bad-faith denial.
Unfortunately, there is a reason why filing an insurance claim has a reputation for being a stressful process. The insurance companies are not on your side, and they are not going to stand by you during your struggles. If you are going to secure the coverage to which you are legally entitled, it is going to be because you have committed to doing what it takes to do so.
What to Do (and What Not to Do) If You Have a Home or Auto Insurance Claim in Washington
When dealing with an insurance claim, there are a number of “Dos” and “Don’ts” you will want to keep in mind. These include:
DO: Review Your Home or Auto Insurance Policy
First, review your policy to make sure you know what is covered and what is not. When you are dealing with your adjuster, the last thing you want to do is haggle over something that is not covered. By the same token, you need to ensure that you are seeking the full coverage to which you are entitled. And the only way to know for sure what your policy covers is by reviewing it.
DO NOT: Rely on Your Insurance Company to Tell You If You Are Covered
When you have an insurance claim, you should not rely on your insurance company to tell you what is covered. While your insurance adjuster cannot legally misrepresent the terms of your coverage, (i) your adjuster might not have to tell you what is covered if you do not ask, and (ii) adjusters do not always comply with the law. If you need help understanding what your policy covers (in which case, you are not alone), you should ask an attorney to review your policy and explain your coverage to you.
DO: Make Sure You Know What Your Insurance Company Is (and Is not) Allowed to Do
When it comes to delaying and denying coverage, insurance companies can only go so far. In Washington, there is a law that specifically prohibits bad-faith insurance practices. And if your insurance company engages in bad faith, you have legal remedies available.
DO NOT: Ignore Your Obligations or Let Your Insurance Company Lull You into Mistakes
While your insurance company has certain obligations, so do you. During your claim, you must be sure to respond to all communications promptly, and you cannot misrepresent any material information. Even if you have to leave multiple messages or send multiple follow-up emails to your adjuster, you should not “retaliate” by ignoring his or her calls. If you do, your insurance company might be able to use this against you.
DO: Remain Proactive about Securing Coverage
In this same vein, while your claim remains pending, you need to remain proactive about securing coverage. This means following up, reviewing estimates promptly, and doing everything else that is necessary to protect your legal rights.
DO NOT: Take Matters into Your Own Hands (at Least Not Yet)
While there are certain steps you should take to protect yourself (particularly if you have a claim related to injuries you sustained in a car accident), at this point, you also need to be careful about taking matters into your own hands. For example, if your home was damaged and you are having trouble securing the coverage you need to pay a contractor, you should consult with an attorney before you hire someone yourself or try to make repairs on your own.
DO: Make Sure You Know How Much Coverage You Are Entitled to Receive
Eventually, there will be an end in sight. When this time comes, you need to make sure you know how much coverage you are entitled to receive. If you accept a settlement for less than the full amount you are owed, you may find that you have “waived” your right to additional coverage.
DO NOT: Settle Because You Are Frustrated
With this in mind, no matter how difficult the process becomes, you cannot afford to settle simply because you are frustrated and ready to move on. If you are at your wits’ end, your next step should be to discuss your claim with an experienced attorney.
DO: Seek Professional Help for Your Insurance Claim
Yes – if you are having trouble with an insurance claim, you can (and should) seek legal representation. An experienced attorney will be able to help you; and, if necessary, your attorney will be able to file a lawsuit for insurance bad faith and ask a judge to hold the insurance company accountable. However, in most cases, getting an attorney involved will facilitate a favorable resolution without the need to go to court. Sadly, sometimes insurance companies simply will not treat claimants fairly until they get an attorney involved.
DO NOT: Give Up Hope
In short, if you are struggling to secure insurance coverage, you should not give up hope. You have clear legal rights, and an attorney who is experienced in handling disputed insurance claims can help you assert them effectively. If you need help dealing with an auto or home insurance company in Washington, we encourage you to get in touch with D’Amore Law Group. It costs you nothing to learn about your rights, and we can handle your insurance claim at no out-of-pocket cost to you.
Discuss Your Insurance Claim with Attorney Tom D’Amore
For more information about how attorney Tom D’Amore can help with your insurance claim, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation. Call us directly to request an appointment at your convenience, or send us your contact information and we will be in touch as soon as possible.