Calling in the Big Guns

Posted on March 2, 2021 by Chip Merlin

Knowing when to get help with insurance problems improves the odds of obtaining the best possible settlement

Most people hate calling lawyers. Legal troubles are scary and having to get an attorney involved in a case is intimidating. However, there are times when a dispute with your insurance company over a property loss claim will require a third party to intercede on your behalf. But how do you know when to pick up the phone to get help with insurance problems?

Obviously, the vast majority of property insurance claims don’t end up in court. If you have a minor fender bender, settling the matter is usually simple. If a windstorm damages your roof, the cause of the loss is clear, and figuring out how much it’s going to cost to fix the roof is straightforward.

When deciding whether you need outside representation, consider the complexity of the claim. In general, the larger the loss, the more likely it will be that you’ll need an attorney to run interference between you and the insurance carrier. Many insurance companies train field adjusters to find ways to pay as little as possible. Not every company is like this but go into the claims process knowing that the insurance company may be more interested in shaving dollars off the settlement than in making you whole after a loss.

We had an unusual case that involved a palatial mansion perched on a mountainside high in the Colorado Rockies. The wealthy owner prized the home for its magnificent views. In one particularly nasty winter, an avalanche destroyed the home. The cause of the loss was clear, but making the homeowner whole again required legal action to get the insurance company to pay up.

At the heart of the dispute was the insurance company’s insistence that the home be rebuilt where it was, and that a wall would be installed to block any additional avalanches. The insurance company didn’t care about the views. It just wanted the matter settled as cheaply as possible.

Naturally, the homeowner disagreed with the company’s plan and called me. We hired numerous experts who determined that moving the home to a different place on the property would greatly reduce further losses due to avalanches. It gets complicated, but it is possible to ascertain where avalanches are the most likely to occur. The case was finally settled when the insurance company agreed to rebuild the home in a safer spot, making a view-obscuring wall unnecessary.

The bottom line is that complex and costly claims may put you in an adversarial relationship with your insurance carrier. Insurance policies, regulations, and laws can make even an attorney’s head spin, which is why you need someone with specialized knowledge to navigate the claims process for you. Having a good attorney on your side gives you peace of mind and the best possible odds of receiving a fair settlement.


Justice For The Policyholder

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