By: Shernoff Bidart Echeverria LLP
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WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY REFUSES TO PAY YOUR LAWFUL CLAIM
When you buy an insurance policy, you are purchasing protection for yourself, your family and your possessions. If your car is totaled, or you’re disabled by a fall, or your home is burglarized, you submit a claim and wait a reasonable time for your check. It’s a simple enough transaction in theory. But now, in too many cases the check never gets there. The insurance company balks and refuses your claim, or it offers a sum far lower then your actual loss.
What do you do then?
In nine of 10 cases, people do nothing. They figure there is no use in fighting this $200 billion industry. And that’s a shame, because policyholders have strong legal rights under both statute law and case law. You can take on an insurance company and win:
Never inflate your claim. This will annoy the claims adjuster and make payment more difficult. At worst, it could make you vulnerable to a criminal charge of fraud. An honest claim lays the foundation for further action, should the company refuse to settle.
Request a written explanation of why your claim was denied. An explanation is required by law in most states. If the explanation cites some technicality, such as failure to file on time, the company is probably out of line. Even if you are months late in filing, your claim is still valid unless the company can show that its investigation was harmed by the delay.