It has been reported that insurance companies routinely underpay storm damage claims up to 90 percent of the claims full value. Too often, it requires legal action to obtain a fair settlement for legitimate claims.
Insurance policyholders turn to their insurance agents for help when recovering from serious property damage to cars, homes and businesses. Major storms and natural disasters often cause water damage and flooding, wind damage, and hail damage to business and personal property.
Property owners and policyholders need prompt payment on their insurance claims to repair or replace damaged property and to move forward with their lives. Unfortunately, rightful insurance claims are denied when insurance companies act in breach of contract and bad faith. It is not uncommon for claim payments to be delayed for months or years, or until the company is threatened with a lawsuit.
Policyholders have very busy lives and cannot spend months negotiating with insurance companies over the amount of the storm damage insurance settlement. They often are forced to take the low-ball offers or nothing at all, unless they contact an experienced attorney to assist in recoveries.
If you think your insurance carrier is ignoring, delaying or denying your claim and think they are breaching their contract and simply protecting their own financial well-being, you may have a bad faith claim.
The Lyon Firm represents policyholders throughout Ohio in insurance bad faith litigation on behalf of individuals and businesses involved in coverage disputes related to storm damage.
When an insurance company acts in an unreasonable manner assessing a storm damage claim, it is protecting their own financial well-being and are in breach of its duty to its insured.
Storm damage claims and lawsuits for bad faith require experts to assess damages because although some damage is visible, other damages can be hidden.
For example, storms may damage every window a home or business, though an untrained eye may not notice until the windows begin to leak long after the storm.
Homeowners may not realize that high winds and hail can cause micro-fractures in paint or metal on a structure, which leads to premature aging and permanent damage.
After a major flood, the costs of damage, clean up and temporarily relocation are assessed in the hardest-hit areas. The damage and sewage impact can be so severe in some Cincinnati areas that residents have been forced out of their homes and some businesses have closed.
You should assess your property closely following a major storm. It is typical after strong storms for business and homeowners to develop leaks in windows and cracks in walls a year or two after their homes were exposed to a catastrophic storm. By then, it may be too late to make a claim with your insurance company, or the insurance company challenges the origin of the storm damage and refuses to pay the claim.
Joe Lyon has 17 years of experience representing plaintiffs in complex litigation.
The Firm handles cases on contingency fees advancing all costs of the case and accepts the financial risk of the litigation.
The Firm does not seek reimbursement for fees or costs in the event of a non-recovery.
Owners Insurance company denied the claims of a condominium complex that had sustained hail damage to its 12 unit complex. The jury found that the roof damage and secondary water damage to the units were related to the storm and awarded Plaintiff damages for breach of contract and bad faith. The Lyon Firm represented the Plaintiffs along with Lubel Voyls, LLP.
As soon as you have identified initial damage, photograph all storm damage and provide the evidence to your insurance agent. If damage is severe, cover damaged roofs or walls to prevent further wind and rain damage. Be very insistent with insurance agents after a storm or it is likely the company will wait until you give up on a claim.
If possible, document before and after photos. Insurance companies may deny claims by arguing that certain storm damage was actually already there before a storm. If you have questions, call an Ohio attorney experienced in handling storm damage lawsuits and litigating cases against insurance companies.
The most obvious type of bad faith from an insurance company is the outright denial of payment from a valid property damage claim. The company or agent may cite a vague reason for the denial or avoid discussing the situation directly until a policyholder takes legal action against them. Other forms of bad faith include the following:
Insurers Owe a Duty to the Insured to: