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Storm Damage Insurance Claim Denied

If Your Storm Damage Insurance Claim Has Been Unjustly Denied, Our Alabama Insurance Lawyer Can Help

When the devastating forces unleashed by hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, and floods strike your home or business, injuries and damage to property can be severe enough to leave victims severely injured, homeless, and penniless. If you have been faithfully paying for insurance that covers these disasters, you expect to be reimbursed for your costs and damages according to your policy limits.

Unfortunately, insurance companies, who are concerned with making money and increasing their bottom line, are often motivated to deny claims or pay out as little as possible. They may resort to tactics such as denying, underpaying, or delaying payment of your valid claim. This is at a time when you most need this compensation to rebuild your life and livelihood.

When Insurers Act in Bad Faith in Storm Damage Claims

In Alabama, when an insurance company intentionally denies a claim without a good reason, it’s known as  “bad faith”.  Alabama insurance law is complicated, and if the insurance company refuses to budge and pay what they owe despite your repeated efforts to collect on a legitimate claim, having an insurance lawyer on your side can help you get the benefits you deserve.

The insurance lawyers at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana understand how devastating storms and natural disasters can be, and the emotional and physical tolls that victims suffer. We can help hold your insurer responsible for paying what they owe in a timely manner and get restitution and payment for the storm damages. One legal option is filing a lawsuit for insurance bad faith in an Alabama court. We are also skilled negotiators who work with insurers to reach a settlement that compensates you well.

We have obtained millions of dollars for clients who were treated unfairly by insurance companies, and we strive to do the same for you. We want you to have peace of mind that an experienced team of attorneys is standing by you and fighting to obtain just compensation for you.

We offer a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your denial of claim and determine the best way to proceed to get you justice and a fair settlement. We work on a contingency fee basis, so there are no fees until we win your case. Call Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana at (251) 444-7000 today to get help.

What to do When a Homeowner’s Insurance Claim is Denied for Storm Damage

When a major storm does widespread damage, business and property owners have a right to expect that their insurer will pay their claim fairly and promptly, but this is often not the case.

Policyholders whose insurance claims for storm damage have not been handled correctly should know that they have rights and do not have to accept the insurance company’s delay, denial, or underpayment. Alabama insurance companies have a duty to evaluate and process your claim in good faith. This means they must reasonably and efficiently investigate, process, and compensate you for your valid claims.

Alabama Insurance Code, Chapter 482-1-125,deals with standards for property and casualty insurance claims. The standard required of insurers is to be prompt and fair, and to provide equitable settlements. Among these requirements are:

  • Insurers must notify you of the acceptance or denial of your claim within thirty (30) days (or the number of days specified in the policy) after the company receives your claim with proof of loss. If claims are denied, the insurer must provide reasons for doing so by referring to specific policy provisions, conditions or exclusions.
  • Insurers must not knowingly cease or prolong negotiations for settlement of a claim to allow the statute of limitations to expire and must send notice approximately forty-five (45) calendar days before the date on which the limitations period may expire.
  • Insurers must send payment within thirty (30) days or the time specified in the policy, after accepting liability, reaching an agreement amount, and receiving necessary documents.

In addition, insurance companies must:

  • Promptly investigate the facts of the claim
  • Answer letters and phone calls within 15 days
  • Consider all evidence submitted
  • Provide an honest evaluation of the claim and policy provisions
  • Negotiate for a fair settlement.

Despite these requirements, insurance companies often deny or delay paying valid claims without legitimate reason. Since they have high-powered lawyers on their side who will try to show that their actions were warranted, it is very difficult to fight denials on your own.

When you enlist our CWA insurance lawyers, you will have a team working for you who knows Alabama law, how insurance companies operate and how to get them to pay what they owe. If appropriate, we can bring a lawsuit against them for:

Refusal to pay (normal bad faith) — Ifthe insurance company knowingly rejects your claim without any reasonably legitimate reason for their decision.

Refusal to investigate (abnormal bad faith) — Ifthe insurerfailed to adequately investigate or review your claim, created its own debatable reason for denying your claim, or relied on an ambiguous portion of the policy as a lawful basis to deny the claim.

How to Prove Bad Faith on a Storm Damage Insurance Claim

Alabama requires a high threshold of proof for bad faith, so we must show that the claim was not only wrongfully denied, but that the insurer had no arguable basis to deny the claim in the first place. To win your case, our insurance attorneys must prove the following elements:

  • Your insurance company had a contract with you.
  • The company breached its contract and agreement and intentionally refused to pay your claim.
  • The insurance company knew that its denial was unsupported by the facts and had no reasonable or arguable reason to do so.

Our attorneys will seek to hold responsible the insurance companies that deny or delay an insurance claim without a valid reason. We will show they are liable for damages through negotiations, and we will take them to court if necessary.  Our legal team will investigate many elements of your claim. We will:

  • Research the circumstances of the storm and the damage that resulted
  • Locate and interview witnesses and first responders
  • Gather evidence from sources such as surveillance cameras
  • Review police, medical, and fire reports
  • Hire expert witnesses to reconstruct what happened and testify on your behalf.

Compensation You May Receive for Denial of a Storm Damage Insurance Claim

Home insurance policies in Alabama can vary greatly, and the compensation you will receive can vary accordingly, depending on factors such as the losses covered by your policy, the individual coverages you chose, and the type of residence or business involved. Standard Alabama home insurance should cover your house, personal property and belongings, and other structures like garages and fences. Your policy may also cover:

  • Wind and hail damage
  • Additional living costs
  • Personal liability
  • Medical expenses when someone is injured on your property
  • Replacement costs for the roof.

If your damages involved a vehicle, you may be covered under your auto insurance policy. If you have Alabama comprehensive coverage, it shouldpay for damage to your auto from causes that include severe weather and floods, as well as fire, vandalism, and theft.

When you file a bad faith insurance claim, your damage award can go beyond what is owed on your insurance policies. And in a successful case, you may be entitled to a range of damages that include compensatory and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages are for economic and non-economic damages that stemmed from the denial of the claim.

Economic damages are those that have a specific dollar value, such as:

  • Your initial losses under the policy — the costs of the original accident, damages, and injuries up to insurance policy limits. This includes payment for your medical and rehabilitation bills and for your property damage.
  • Additional financial losses caused by the insurer’s actions, such as lost wages from being unable to work, or lost revenue through business interruption.
  • Emotional distress resulting from the improper denial and embarrassment and loss of reputation, such as loss of business or financial problems caused by delayed or denied insurance payments.

You may also be entitled to non-economic damages, which are non-tangible costs resulting from the inconvenience, stress, pain, and suffering that the claim denial caused.

In some cases, you may also be awarded punitive damages to act as a punishment for the insurance company’s bad actions, and as an example so that other insurers are less likely to engage in similar conduct.

Amounts of Compensation

Amounts of compensation you may receive vary greatly, depending on the individual circumstances, the extent of injuries and damages, and your policy. Even if you have suffered a total loss, Alabama does not require an insurer to pay the full face-value of a policy, but to adjust property damage claims per the terms and limits of the policy. Generally, actual cash value payments are appropriate for most claims under standard policies, and disputes may arise if replacement costs are greater than the actual value.

When Business Insurance Is Denied for Storm Damage

If the storm has damaged or destroyed your business, the situation can be even more complicated, as your livelihood is affected. If you are unable to carry out your business, you may lose customers and never be able to recover. 

Storm damage can completely destroy structures, inventory, and records. There may be injuries to employees or customers that could result in lawsuits being filed against you or the business. You may have to move operations to a temporary location or even stop operating until repairs are made and inventory is replaced.

How Business Interruption Insurance Should Work

Many business insurance policies provide business interruption insurance that should cover business losses after a storm, as well as the cost of direct property losses provided in your standard insurance policy. However, business interruption insurance claims may be even more likely to be denied than property damage claims.

If you have business interruption insurance, it should include coverage for:

  • Lost sales and revenues from the storm
  • Costs of utilities and rent payments for a storm-damaged property
  • Costs of temporary relocation and advertising the move.

Whether your claim is for business interruption or standard casualty damage, insurers should respond to it with good faith. When insurers deny or delay your business insurance claim, our lawyers can bring in storm damage experts and contractors and provide extensive financial documentation to substantiate your claim.

When Hurricane Damage Claims Are Denied

A major hurricane in your area can create so many claims that insurance companies may be overwhelmed and even more likely to delay or deny your claim. Insurance policies may cover damage by wind but not flood damage, unless you have purchased separate coverage. As a result, insurers may argue whether wind or water may have caused the damage and in which sequence. For example, insurers may claim water damage was due to flooding from rising water — which is not covered in a standard policy — when the actual cause of the damage was rain coming in from broken windows or a roof being torn off from high winds.

Other tactics insurance adjusters may use after a hurricane include:

  • Falsely denying that your policy covers damage from the storm
  • Unreasonable delays in processing the claim
  • Making other false or misleading statements about what your policy covers
  • Making a lowball settlement offer
  • Making you sign a written release of supplemental claims in order to receive your settlement.

When Tornado Damage Claims Are Denied

Tornados can appear and disappear without much warning, leaving a trail of devastation that can destroy homes and businesses. Even weaker tornadoes have winds approaching 200 mph that can destroy a single-family home, and stronger ones can level larger buildings.

A standard homeowner’s or business property insurance policy should cover tornado damage to your property and the items inside of it. In addition to wind damage, policies should cover damage from hail, rain, and lightning, which can accompany a tornado, and temporary lodging if your home is unlivable. Insurance should pay for the actual cost of replacement of the damaged roof or building, regardless of the age, as well as for building repairs.

While tornadoes are covered under a basic homeowner’s or commercial property policy, insurance companies still try to deny and underpay tornado claims. If you have had a tornado claim denied, our attorneys will scrutinize your policy and your denial letter to find weaknesses in their arguments and hold the insurers accountable for fair payment. In addition, we will make sure your property is thoroughly inspected for damage that may not show up immediately.

When Flood Damage Claims Are Denied

Although Alabama receives 56 inches of rain each year and is prone to floods, standard home insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, business owners and renters in Alabama communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program and enforce their local flood damage prevention ordinances.

Flood insurance is sold through private companies and agents and is backed by the federal government. Information is available at the National Flood Insurance Program website.

Although the federal government backs the program, this does not mean that the insurers will not attempt to delay or deny your claim, especially when a flood causes major damages to an area. Get legal help from our team at CWA Law Firm immediately if you suspect your claim is not being handled fairly.

Call Our Insurance Lawyers for Help with Any Denial of Storm Damage Insurance Claim

Whether your damage is from a hurricane, tornado, flood, wind or lightning, when powerful insurance companies unfairly deny or delay your claims, help is available from the insurance attorneys at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana. We help the injured seek justice for the harm they have received and fight for restitution for those who have suffered property damage to their home or business.

We know Alabama’s complex insurance and personal injury laws and can represent you with the insurance companies and negotiate on your behalf. If negotiations break down, we can file a civil lawsuit against the insurer on your behalf. Our lawyers will review your policy for free, and with our No Fee Guarantee, you don’t owe us anything unless we make a recovery for you.

Reach out to our experienced attorneys at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana today to schedule a free case evaluation at (251) 444-7000.

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