If your insurance company denies your claim after a wildfire, they may be acting in bad faith. The key to handling this situation is to proceed in a calm and rational manner. Use the following steps as a guide:
1) Carefully Review Your Policy
After a fire, your first step should be to review your policy carefully. This step is often neglected. But this can be a huge mistake. It's crucial that you have a full grasp of your coverage.
Along with a failure to pay premiums, the most common reasons coverage are declined are failing to take preventive steps and not documenting damage properly. Additionally, you might be denied coverage simply because the cause isn't covered by your policy. Try to look at your case from the perspective of an adjuster searching for reasons to deny coverage.
You will need to completely understand your policy so you can effectively argue against the denial.
2) Understand The Reason For the Denial
As noted above, an insurer can deny a claim for any number of reasons, but they do have to tell you why they denied it. It's important that you understand their explanation.
If their description of the situation is accurate and the policy is clear about their reason for denying your claim, then all you can do is learn what not to do in the future. If this is not the case, then you should move forward and challenge the denial.
3) File Complaints
You can file a complaint by addressing higher levels of management within the insurance company. Ask to speak them and then explain your problem. Another option is to file a complaint with your state's insurance commission or another regulatory body.
4) Take Legal Action If Necessary
If none of the methods above are effective, then you may need to seek out an attorney who has experience with your type of claim. Sections 541 and 542 of the Texas Insurance Code provide protection for consumers when insurers act in bad faith. The unfair denial of insurance claims is definitely in bad faith.
The law places an 18 percent penalty on insurance companies that fail to pay within a certain amount of time; however, only a skilled and experienced lawyer will be able to have this provision enforced.
If wildfires have damaged your ranchland or caused you to lose stock and your insurance claim has been denied, contact us at Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C in Amarillo, Texas. Our attorneys have experience when it comes to dealing with insurance companies and can help to resolve your case.