What Can You Do if You Think the Insurance Company is Improperly Investigating Your Claim?
When you file an insurance claim, you expect a certain level of professionalism during the investigation and settlement offer. However, insurance adjustors often face a conflict of interest during the course of an investigation. They need to abide by industry standards, but they will also try to minimize the payout.
In some cases, the claimant may miss signs of an inadequate investigation and accept a settlement without further exploration. However, some inadequacies are blatant. For instance, an insurance adjustor may look only at the damage you point out during an inspection. They can claim they didn’t see other aspects of damage after the fact, reducing the amount the insurance company owes. This is a ploy, and policyholders should beware of these types of activities. Failing to investigate thoroughly is an act of bad faith.
If you think your insurance company has inadequately or improperly investigated your claim, you can take action. There are several things you can do to improve the outcome of your claim, but each requires proactively addressing the problem. Waiting and hoping for the best will not rectify the situation.
Maintain a Record of the Investigation
You or someone close to you should attend the investigative activities regarding your property or injuries. Document what occurs as much as possible. Write down the attendees and the damage you see, but watch the adjustor for indications that he or she is overlooking some damage. Adjustors are professionals and should identify damage that you cannot see or know about.
Make notes during the investigation, particularly if you notice an adjustor purposefully avoiding areas of damage. Notes will help you remember your correspondence, the circumstances of the investigation, and any other evidence. Always take several pictures of the damage (before an adjustor arrives, if you can) to ensure you have physical evidence regarding the extent of damage.
Confront the Insurance Company
Most insurance companies will pick and choose their battles when a policyholder calls with a complaint. If you have proof or a strong belief that your adjustor improperly investigated your claim, call and speak to a representative to outline your concerns. Follow up this conversation with a letter. In many cases, the insurance company will re-examine the findings of the adjustor and may assign a new adjustor to your claim.
If you do not receive a satisfactory answer, let the company know you will be taking further action. Do not accept any form of settlement while you have an open dispute with the company.
Contact an Outside Professional
You may want to consult an attorney as soon as you have a suspicion regarding the adequacy of an investigation. With a quick conversation, an attorney can evaluate your situation and offer some advice on moving forward. Not every case will result in a need to file a bad faith claim, but some will require that measure to secure an adequate settlement and other damages.
In addition to helping you determine paths of legal recourse, an experienced insurance attorney can help you have initial conversations with the insurance company to resolve the situation. For small claims for minor car or home damage, many property owners choose to have conversations with insurance companies on their own first. However, in cases of extreme injury or cases that have caused serious financial difficulty, consulting an attorney early on can help you move forward with a claim quickly and effectively.
You may also want to consult an attorney if an improper investigation resulted in a company denying your claim. The legal professionals at the Surrano Law Offices can help you navigate the complexities of a claim appeal and take further action to secure fair compensation on your behalf.