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Fire Damage Insurance Claim Denied

An Alabama Insurance Lawyer Can Help When Your Fire Damage Insurance Claim Has Been Denied Unjustly.

If you have suffered through the tragic devastation that a fire can bring, you rely on the insurance you have been paying for to cover the cost of your damaged property, your related medical and therapy bills, and the suffering you have endured. You need help fast, and you cannot get it when your insurance company is denying, underpaying, or delaying payment of your valid claim.

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

The insurance lawyers at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana understand how devastating a fire can be and the importance of getting your claim paid so you can start to rebuild and go on with your life. We can help hold your insurer responsible for paying what they owe in a timely manner. We can also help to get restitution and payment for the damages they caused by filing a lawsuit for insurance bad faith in an Alabama court.

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 our team at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana at (251) 444-7000 today to get help.

When Your Homeowner’s Insurance Claim for Fire Damage Is Denied

A house fire has the potential to devastate and even bankrupt a middle-class family when an insurance company fails to pay a homeowner’s insurance claim. What if you are in a lower income bracket? How do you bounce back when all you own is destroyed? You may be left homeless, with your furniture and other personal property ruined. You need money to cover alternative living costs, to rebuild your home, and to replace the property that was devastated by the fire. If you or a family member was harmed by the fire, you need to have medical and rehabilitation bills covered, and if someone has died, you may be dealing with funeral and burial costs. This may all be happening at a time when you are unable to work. You need help, and you need it fast.

Alabama insurance companies have a duty to evaluate and process your claim in good faith. They are required to reasonably and efficiently investigate, process, and compensate you for your valid claims.

This means insurance companies must:

  • Promptly investigate the facts of a 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
  • Settle the claim promptly, according to policy requirements and your individual financial interests
  • If the claim was denied, provide a written explanation of why.

If your insurer violates this duty and fails to pay what they owe, you have a right to bring a civil lawsuit for bad faith against the company.

When Business Insurance Is Denied for Fire Damage

If a fire happened at your place of business, the situation can be even more complicated, as your livelihood is affected. Worse still, business interruption claims may be even more likely to be denied than property damage claims. Fire damage can completely destroy structures, inventory, and records, and there may be injuries to employees or customers that may even 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.

Many business insurance policies provide business interruption insurance that should cover business losses after a fire, as well as the cost of direct property losses provided in your standard fire insurance policy.

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

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

Whether for business interruption or standard casualty damage, insurers should respond to your claim with good faith. When insurers deny or delay your business insurance claim for a fire, it can be necessary for our insurance lawyers to do thorough research. We may need to bring in fire experts to analyze the damage. We may also examine your business records so we can provide extensive financial documentation of your losses to substantiate your claim.

Elements for a Fire Damage Insurance Claim Lawsuit in Alabama

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. It states that you must be notified 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.

However, insurance companies are out to make money and pay out as little as possible. As a result, they may act in bad faith. They may fail to meet this standard by denying or delaying payment of valid claims without legitimate reason.

Alabama insurance laws are complicated, and insurance companies have high-powered lawyers on their side who will try to show that their actions were warranted, so this is not something you should fight on your own. When your insurer denies, delays, or fails to investigate your legitimate claim, our insurance lawyers 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 companyfails to adequately investigate your claim.

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.
  • The insurer intentionally refused to pay your claim.
  • The insurance company knew that its denial was unsupported by the facts and had no reasonable or arguable basis.

Our legal team will do this by investigating the circumstances of the fire, interviewing witnesses and first responders; gathering evidence such as from surveillance cameras and from police, medical, and fire reports; and hiring expert witnesses to testify on your behalf.

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

In a successful case, insurance companies that deny or delay an insurance claim without a debatable reason may be found liable for damages. Bad faith insurance claims are personal injury claims, and so 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
  • Additional financial losses caused by the insurer’s actions, such as lost wages, or lost revenue through business interruption
  • Embarrassment and loss of reputation, such as loss of business or financial problems caused by delayed or denied insurance payments
  • Emotional distress resulting from the improper denial.

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.

How Do You Know the Insurer Is Operating in Bad Faith – Tactics Insurance Companies Use

At a time when you are dealing with trying to recover from the devastation of a fire, it may be difficult to decide whether or not you have been treated unfairly by your insurance company. Some signs and tactics that your company is operating in bad faith include:

  • The insurance company fails to investigate, inspect, or evaluate your property or records.
  • The adjuster avoids your calls and does not respond to communications.
  • Despite obvious liability, the company refuses to negotiate a fair settlement.
  • The company uses delaying tactics, uses ambiguous policy language as the basis to deny the claim, or provides justifications that contradict the terms of your insurance policy.
  • The insurer does not provide a written explanation of its decision.

If you notice these tactics or any other that causes you to suspect bad faith, make sure to document every exchange with the insurance company and get legal assistance as soon as possible.

Call Our Fire Insurance Lawyers for Help

When powerful insurance companies unfairly deny or delay your claims, help is available from the insurance attorneys at Caldwell Wenzel & Asthana. 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 and you have a legitimate legal case for injuries or property damage, we can file a civil lawsuit against the insurer on your behalf.

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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