Los Angeles Homeowner’s Insurance Bad Faith Attorney
The Kristy Law Firm has handled homeowners insurance claims continuously since 2003. We understand the laws and regulations that govern the conduct of homeowners insurance companies. We apply our expertise in holding insurers responsible for mishandling homeowners insurance claims and for denying policy benefits to the insured.
At The Kristy Law Firm, we aggressively yet ethically fight for homeowners’ rights. We fight with true grit to hold insurers responsible when they deny their policyholders insurance benefits to which they are entitled. We consistently fight insurers such as Allstate, Farmers, State Farm, Mercury, The Hartford, and 21st Century and force them to compensate our policyholder-clients.
We offer a free evaluation of your case. We represent insurance policyholders on a contingency-fee basis, which means that our clients owe us nothing unless and until we recover money for them. If you believe your homeowners insurance claim was handled unfairly, call us today for a free evaluation of your case. Or, fill out the contact form for a free evaluation. Thank you, we look forward to discussing your case with you.
Know Your Rights When You Make a Homeowner’s Claim
Making an insurance claim can be a bewildering process. It may seem to take your insurer forever to adjust (investigate) your claim. Inexplicable delays often follow. Phone calls to the insurance company yield no information or action. Finally, an official letter from the insurance company arrives, stating that your claim has been denied. The insurer may base the denial on a policy “exclusion” or a “non-covered peril.” Or it may assert that the dollar-amount of the loss is less than your deductible. Often, the denial letter contains lengthy excerpts from your policy. And the policy language is very difficult to understand.
What are your rights when you make a claim?
The answers are contained in a large body of California law: statutes, regulations, and court decisions. It is not possible to itemize all of your rights and responsibilities, and those of your insurer, in this website. However, here are some important rules insurers must follow in first-party claims (claims for loss to your own property, real or personal). These rules are not exhaustive, and are paraphrased here:
- Once you make a claim, the insurer must disclose all benefits, coverage, time limits, or other policy provisions that affect your claim.
- Your insurer must tell you if additional amounts under the policy might be payable if you submit additional proof of your loss. Your insurer must cooperate with you and assist you in determining how much additional coverage may be available.
- Your insurer may not deny a claim on the basis of your failure to exhibit property unless the insurer can document that it demanded to see the property and you refused, or that you failed to follow any other requirement of your insurance policy regarding the exhibition of property.
- Unless your policy specifies a time limit, your insurer may not require you to notify it of a claim within a specific period of time.
- The insurer may not ask you to sign a release that goes beyond the claim itself, unless it first explains to you, fully and in writing, the legal effect of the release.
- Unless you first negotiate a settlement with the insurer, or the insurer has agreed to pay the limit of your policy, the insurer may not issue you a check that pays only part of your loss and that contains language releasing anyone from liability.
- After you request information from your insurer about your claim, the insurer must respond within 15 days with a complete response, based on all facts known to it.
- Once the insurer receives notice of your claim, it must, within 15 days:
- Acknowledge receipt of your claim;
- Provide you with all necessary forms, instructions, and reasonable assistance, including what you must give the insurer in proof of your claim; and
- Begin investigating your claim.
- The insurer must diligently investigate your claim. Its investigation must be thorough, fair and objective. The insurer may not hold up your claim by seeking information that is not reasonably required to resolve your claim.
- The insurer may not delay or deny settlement of your claim merely because another party may be ultimately responsible for paying for your loss.
If you believe that your insurer may have handled your homeowners claim unfairly, seek legal advice immediately.
The Hidden Cost of Contractors Hired by the Insurer
Often, a policyholder feels at the mercy of the insurance company after making a claim for damage to her home. The insurer sends adjusters to her home to evaluate the damage and determine its cause, and to estimate repair costs. Sometimes adjusters bring outside contractors to participate in this process. And sometimes, the insurer wrongfully bills the policyholder for these contractors’ services. Any costs the insurer incurs to investigate damage to your home as part of the claim-adjustment process are the insurer’s responsibility. Further, such investigation costs should not reduce your available policy limits. However, the rules are different for contractors who are hired to repair or restore the home or to mitigate damage.
When a policyholder calls his insurer to report that his home is flooded, the insurer often recommends a water restoration company that can come out immediately and begin to mitigate the damage to the home. A crew arrives and their chief hands the homeowner a clipboard containing a “Work Authorization” form, or similar document. The crew chief instructs the homeowner to sign the document so his workers can begin saving the home. The harried homeowner signs the document.
Only later does the homeowner learn that he has signed a contract with the restoration company, which has been sending its bills directly to the insurer for payment. The insurer then pays the bills without verifying that the homeowner actually received the services being billed, and without verifying that the work was performed competently. Meanwhile, the insurer’s payments to the contractors are steadily reducing the amount of money left in the policy to cover future repairs to the home.
All too often, the restoration contractor lacks the competence to properly dry out the home and salvage furniture and personal belongings. The homeowner realizes this too late. Meanwhile, the insurance company is benefitting from the special low rates it had negotiated with the restoration contractor (in return for recommending the contractor to its insureds). The homeowner complains to his insurer that the restoration company is actually making things worse. The insurer blithely states that the homeowner contracted with the restoration company (remember the “Work Authorization” form?), not the insurer – and that the insurance company is not responsible for the contractor’s work.
Call a Los Angeles Homeowners Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer Today
California insurance regulations require homeowners insurance companies to allow the insured to choose his own contractors. Ask your insurer to clearly explain who is liable for the payment of any contractor the insurer sends to your home. If you did not personally authorize a contractor to work on your home, notify the insurance company in writing that you will not be responsible for paying any of its charges.
If you believe that you have been unfairly charged for the work of contractors whom you did not hire, or who have further damaged your home, seek legal advice from a Los Angeles homeowners bad faith insurance attorney immediately.