Insurance Bad Faith Property Damage Attorney
in Metairie, Louisiana
If you purchase a car, the state law will require you to purchase insurance. If you buy a home, the mortgage lender will likewise require that you purchase a homeowner’s policy to protect their investment. In the end, you want to cover your losses and damages should something unexpected happen.
When you purchase a policy, you have the expectation that the company that sold you the coverage will honor its commitment. If a tree falls on your roof due to high winds, you will turn to your homeowner’s policy and file a claim in the belief that the company will honor their commitment, but what if they don’t?
Insurance companies are for-profit entities, and some might act in “bad faith” when you make a claim. They can use a variety of tactics to lowball or deny your claim. Then what do you do?
If you’ve had an insurance claim denied for bad faith reasons in or around the Greater New Orleans area, contact the legal team at the Law Office of Bruce C. Betzer. We have experience dealing with insurers’ bad faith tactics and will help you launch an appeal and pursue every legal avenue to get you the claims payout you deserve. Our office serves clients in Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, St. Bernard Parish, St. Tammany Parish and throughout the state of Louisiana.
What Does Bad Faith Mean?
According to Louisiana statutes 22:1892 and 22:1973, insurance companies are required to make a good faith effort to fairly and properly adjust claims. They are prohibited from denying legitimate claims for reasons that are:
lacking in probable cause.
Examples of Bad Faith Tactics
Say you call in a claim for property damage; for instance, a pipe supplying water to the house has broken and is flooding your front lawn. You expect the insurance company to honor that claim since you had such coverage included in your policy, but the company denies your claim. The denial can either be intentional or simply due to professional negligence.
In any claim against any insurer, the company will assign a professional known as a claims adjuster to handle your case. These people are skilled in using tactics and techniques designed to minimize or even deny your claim.
If you’ve ever been in an auto accident, you’ve no doubt dealt with their arsenal of tactics. They will sound reasonable and measured in their approach, but they will ask questions designed to get you to own up to responsibility – fault – for what happened, so they can thus lowball or deny your claim.
If you have a property damage claim, they will use the same tactics with an eye to minimizing or denying your claim. They’ve also been known to switch claims adjusters midstream to prolong the process in hopes that you just give up.
Examples of other bad-faith tactics include:
Claiming your property damage is due to normal wear and tear. Many policies have clauses that preclude coverage if the damage being reported stems from what they claim to be anticipated wear and tear.
Asserting the damage is caused by a lack of proper maintenance. As with wear and tear, insurers can also claim that your damage is due to your own lack of properly maintaining your property.
Valuing the claim below your deductible. Say you have a $1,000 deductible on your homeowner’s policy. You call in a claim, and the insurer puts repairs at less than $1,000, though they are clearly higher. This leaves you on the hook for everything.
Misrepresenting the policy. This tactic is clearly bad faith. The claims adjuster or other representative can simply assert that the damage you’re reporting is not covered by the policy.
Causing unnecessary delays. This can include what was mentioned earlier – switching claims adjusters in hopes you just give up -- or the company can simply leave you hanging, so to speak, again looking for you to cave and give up.
Not communicating with you. This one is even worse. The company simply will not return your phone calls, letters, or emails, leaving you with property damage that needs to be repaired.
Making an unreasonable settlement offer. The insurer may simply lowball their settlement offer below what it will cost to repair the damage.
Denying your claim without citing a reason. Some insurers may even simply deny your claim without giving a reason.
Appealing a Denial or Lawsuit: What Can You Recover?
The first step after a denial, or even a low settlement offer, is to file an appeal. You will want to consult with an experienced homeowner property damage attorney. You’re going to need to gather evidence to show the details of the damage – photos, testimony, receipts, etc. – and you’re also going to need to have an independent appraisal of the repairs costs made, perhaps more than one.
If the appeal drags on and on or goes nowhere, you can also file a lawsuit. When insurance companies fail or delay in paying a legitimate claim, they can be subject to punitive damages and attorney fees, as well as reimbursing you properly for the repair costs.
Insurance Bad Faith Property Damage Attorney Serving Metairie, Louisiana
Our legal team stands ready to help you pursue justice from your insurance company if they’ve engaged in bad faith tactics. Contact the Law Office of Bruce C. Betzer for help. Use our toll-free number. You can also reach out through our online contact form, and we will respond as promptly as possible. Our office is located in Metairie, Louisiana, but we also serve clients in all neighboring communities.