8 Tips to Avoid a Denied Storm Damage Claim
Wisconsin storms can be truly detrimental to homes and businesses and can cause costly damage. Although most homeowners’ policies typically cover damages from windstorms, tornadoes, ice storms, hail damage, lighting strikes, wildfires, fallen trees and power surges, there are several tactics the insurance companies use to avoid paying out costly claims.
So, why are so many storm damage claims denied? Many storm damage claims are denied by the insurance providers because the damage is viewed as pre-existing damage, or they view it as normal wear and tear. This is the most common tactic, but one that’s easily avoidable if you take the right steps and avoid the common pitfalls.
- 1. “Wear and tear” and lack of maintenance
The most common tactic an insurance provider uses to deny a claim is saying that there is pre-existing damage or lack of proper maintenance, which is the cause of the damage or reason for the claim and not the storm. This is done to avoid paying out costly claims and if they use this tactic the responsibility is on the policy holder to prove otherwise. It’s important to stay up on any preventative maintenance that may be needed before a claim is made. Leaving the property exposed to additional loss and not taking reasonable steps to reduce the extent of the loss, could be grounds for a denial.
- 2. Paying premiums on time
Like any insurance coverage, if you have missed a payment and there is a gap in coverage, the insurance company may have the ability to rightfully deny your claim. Make sure your coverage is paid and up-to-date.
- 3. Missing claim deadlines
Start the claim process as soon as possible. Deadlines may vary so check your insurance policy.
- 4. Take “before” photos
Most people end up taking “after” photos of storm damage, but “before” condition photos make it easy to show that damages did not exist before the storm. Take pictures or shoot a video of your home and property before storm season starts, date the footage, and retain this documentation just in case it’s needed for an insurance claim.
- 5. Pay special attention to your roof
It’s easy to miss small leaks or tears that can eventually lead to significant damage. Roof and siding damage is the main reason for storm insurance claims so pay extra close attention to this key area.
- 6. Business interruption insurance coverage
If you’re a business owner, you may also want to consider business interruption insurance coverage should a storm affect your ability to run your business. This extra layer of insurance will cover lost sales and revenues from the storm, costs of utilities and rent payments for a storm-damaged property, and costs of temporary relocation and advertising the move.
- 7. Getting an official estimate
If you’ve having trouble understanding the extent of the damage, or need a second opinion, it’s a great idea to call a professional to inspect and provide an estimate to repair the damage. We recommend selecting a reputable contractor of your choosing, even if the insurance company has sent someone out.
- 8. Bring in legal counsel
If you feel like you’ve done everything correctly, but your insurance company is giving you a lowball offer, avoiding paying in a timely manner, or they have outright denied your claim, it’s a wise decision to involve professional legal counsel. MGW is the only law firm in Wisconsin that specializes in helping policy holders with unjustly denied claims and we’re here to discuss your case.
If you’ve been affected by storm damage, it’s crucial that you have a solid strategy for how to maximize your policy claim. Contact MGW if you need help navigating your storm damage claim.