For many of us, a home or business premises is one of our most valuable assets. Getting your home or business location may have required multiple years of planning and saving. An unexpected fire can quickly destroy a building and the valuable contents within it.
In the aftermath, insurance coverage for fire damage will be essential for the rebuilding and restoration process—or payment in the event of a total loss. However, insurance companies are notorious for delaying, diminishing, and ultimately denying fire damage claims whenever possible.
Don’t allow your insurer to wrongfully deny your fire damage claim. Contact a skilled fire damage attorney today. The Cedrick D. Forrest Law Firm is here to help.
In Texas, insurers are legally required to abide by the deadlines set out in Texas Insurance Code §542.001, et. seq. in the assessment and resolution of your insurance claim. Failure to comply with these deadlines in the resolution of a covered claim can result in interest penalties and attorney's fees.
The following represent the statutory deadlines that your insurer must generally comply with:
Within 15 calendar days after receiving notice of your claim, your insurer must:
(1) acknowledge receipt of the claim;
(2) commence an investigation of the claim; and
(3) request from you all items, statements, and forms the insurer reasonably believes, at the time, will be required from you.
An insurer may make additional requests for information if during the investigation of the claim the additional requests are necessary. Tex. Ins. Code. § 542.055.
During this period, insurers may send an adjuster to inspect your property and get an estimate of damages. It is essential that you get an independent inspection and estimate of your damage to ensure that your insurance company is not underpaying you.
If your insurer requested items from you, within 15 business days after your insurer receives all items, statements, and forms required to secure final proof of loss, your insurer must notify you in writing if it accepts or rejects your claim. If your insurer rejects your claim, the notice must state the reasons for the rejection.
In the case of a fire damage claim, if your insurer has a reasonable basis to believe that the fire resulted from arson, then their deadline to accept or reject your claim is extended to 30 days after receipt of all items, statements, or forms required by the insurer.
If your insurer is unable to accept or reject your claim within 15 days (or 30 for suspected arson), they must notify you in writing of the reasons why they need additional time. Tex. Ins. Code. § 542.056.
If your insurer could not make a determination within the above timeframes, they must accept or reject your claim within 45 days after they informed you of their need for additional time. Tex. Ins. Code. § 542.056.
If your insurer notifies you that it is going to pay your claim, then it must pay you within 5 business days after they gave you notice. If payment of the claim, or part of the claim, is conditioned on you performing an act (e.g. providing a signed document), the insurer is only required to pay within 5 business days after you perform the act.
The deadline to pay is extended to 20 business days after notice if your insurer is an eligible surplus lines insurer. Tex. Ins. Code. § 542.057.
Keep in mind that the above deadlines are extended by an additional 15 days if your property damage is the result of a weather-related catastrophe or major natural disaster, as defined by the commissioner of the Texas Department of Insurance. If you are not a Texas resident, your state may also impose such deadlines.
There are several legal nuances involved with your insurer’s legal obligations to process your claim in good faith. It is important that you have a skilled fire damage attorney to help navigate through the complex deadlines and responsibilities of your insurer. Contact the skilled fire damage attorneys at the Cedrick D. Forrest Law Firm today.
Is it a Good Idea to Hire Public Adjusters?
Public adjusting is conducted by an independent insurance professional. A policyholder hires a public adjuster to help settle an insurance claim on his or her behalf. Licensed public adjusters can provide an estimate of your claimed property damage and compare it with the carrier’s estimate.
Public adjusters work solely on behalf of insureds and charge a fee for their services. However, public adjusters are limited in their ability to represent you. If a public adjuster and your insurance company cannot reach an agreement, legal action may be necessary.
Public adjusters cannot file a lawsuit on your behalf but can later demand payment even if a lawyer is necessary to resolve your claim. Therefore, it is best to get a skilled fire damage attorney from the outset of the claim.
A knowledgeable fire damage attorney will assist you in preserving evidence; having your property inspected by a qualified professional; assist with getting an accurate estimate of the complete damages, and communicate with your insurer for the resolution of your fire damage claim.
If a lawsuit is necessary, you can rest assured that your fire damage attorney was present to handle every aspect of the claim from the outset and can fight for you in court when it’s time.
If you have recently experienced fire damage and need help filing a claim or had your existing fire damage claim delayed or denied, it is important that you immediately contact a skilled fire damage attorney. Fire damage claims are often complex.
The attorneys at the Cedrick D. Forrest Law firm are experienced, willing, and ready to advocate on your behalf. We will fight to make sure that your rights are not jeopardized and that you are fully compensated for your fire damage.
Call us toll-free today at 1-888-777-1204 for a free consultation with a skilled fire damage attorney.