Table Of Contents
- Our Lawyers Can Help You Assess Your Tornado Damage
- Your Insurance May Cover These Tornado-Related Losses
- Other Compensation You Could Receive After a Tornado
- Common Questions About Homeowners Insurance and Tornado Damage
- When Insurance Companies Behave Badly After a Tornado
- What Should I Avoid While the Insurer Processes My Tornado Damage Claim?
- Learn About Your Legal Options Following Tornado Damage
Our Lawyers Can Help You Assess Your Tornado DamageGathering evidence is just one way our tornado damage lawyers can assist in determining what your claim is worth. We support you throughout the process by:
- Explaining the terms of your policies in easy-to-understand phrasing
- Advising you on how to preserve your right to compensation
- Reviewing any compensation offers and their terms
- Negotiating for an amount commensurate to your losses
Other Ways We Pitch in After a StormWhen you don't have a livable home, let alone a stable internet connection or reliable phone service, the mere process of filing an insurance claim is an arduous task. Our property damage lawyers take over the logistics for you. We can:
- Help you file a claim
- Talk with claims adjusters
- Coordinate support and repairs
- Consult experts
- Make inventories
- Offer help in other case-specific ways
Resolving Disputes Over the Value of Your ClaimWe mentioned that some specific scenarios can prompt insurance companies to refuse compensation. For instance, they may try to argue that you didn't take proper precautions to protect your property after the storm, and some damage you claimed actually came later. This is an example of a dispute we can work to resolve on your behalf. Debates over the value of your claim can even seem small, such as disagreements over what a specific possession is worth. In the stress and weariness of dealing with a tornado's aftermath, you may feel tempted to concede and take a lower amount. Put us in the ring instead. Some of what we do is simply taking on these fights so that you can rest. It's natural to run out of steam following a natural disaster; the insurance company may even count on that, hoping you'll settle for less. We can put our energy into your case instead, while you focus on picking up the pieces.
Your Insurance May Cover These Tornado-Related LossesFollowing a storm, your usual avenue for receiving financial help is through your homeowners insurance policy. Your coverage could help you with damage to:
- Windows and doors
- The structure's foundation
- Personal items
Damage to Other StructuresIf you have freestanding structures on your property that the tornado damaged, you could receive compensation through an insurance claim. Your covered losses may include:
- Detached garages
- Guest houses
- Pool houses
We Can Determine Your Covered Losses Following a TornadoInsurance companies offer financial recovery for your property and possessions as they were when the storm occurred. That typically means you can receive the item's actual cash value, not the amount you initially paid for it. This is because a lot of property depreciates in value as you own and use it. That being said, you can recover funds for some items at current market value. For instance, some items, like collectibles, may have increased in value, meaning they were worth more at the time of the storm than they were when you got them. We can go over these and similar considerations when calculating your covered losses.
Other Compensation You Could Receive After a TornadoObtaining a financial recovery for your property and possessions is only one facet of dealing with the consequences of a tornado. Our team can explore other aspects of your life or consequences that could qualify for compensation following a destructive storm.
Compensation for a Temporary Living SituationThe tornado could have made your home unsafe or even entirely unlivable. It may have even leveled your home. In that case, you may need to temporarily relocate until you can get repairs or find a new home. We can include relocation expenses in your compensation, including the cost of:
- Hotel stays
- Eating out
- Supplies to mitigate further property damage
- Storage space
Damage to Your VehicleIf the tornado damaged your car, motorcycle, RV, ATV, or another recreational vehicle, your vehicle insurance coverage can help repair or replace it, as well as provide funds for a rental car. This requires filing a separate claim from the one for your other property damage. Nonetheless, remember that not all car or vehicle insurance policies cover damage caused by a natural disaster; it depends on the specifics of your coverage. However, if you suspect you should have protection for natural disasters in your policy, only to have your insurance dispute your claim, our tornado damage lawyers can review your policy and fight back.
Water Damage After a TornadoRain can accompany tornadoes and windstorms. If the storm damaged your roof or windows, allowing rain to get into your home and cause damage, you could claim that as well. As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) points out, this kind of water damage is actually considered a consequence of wind damage. However, your homeowners insurance may not cover other forms of water damage. For instance, flooding is typically separate from other storm-related coverage. If you have flood insurance, you can file a separate claim to receive compensation for any resulting damages. Yet, that means separating the items damaged by flooding from items damaged by rain or wind. The attorneys at Dolman Law Group can explain how insurance could view your damages. We can seek access to the compensation you need to rebuild.
Damaged LandscapingTornadoes can do a number on your yard. Your policy could cover some of that destruction, but again, this depends on the terms of your policy. For instance, wind and tornado coverage may not cover tree removal. Other policies may only cover part of the cost. Consider this example—if a tree fell in your yard, not on your house or another structure, your policy may not cover the cost of removing it. While it made a mess, it did not cause actual damage to your property, and the insurer may deny liability. In short, insurance companies aren't responsible for helping you clean up every aspect of the tornado damage. Some natural debris may extend beyond their purview. Your policy should list which aspects of damaged landscaping have coverage. Our lawyers can also determine what your insurer should help with.
Common Questions About Homeowners Insurance and Tornado DamageAt Dolman Law Group, you can come to us with your questions. Our consultation is free, so you can get information from your very first meeting with no hassle or fuss. We believe in empowering our clients and keeping them in the loop about what is happening in their cases. Below are some common questions, but we also know each case is unique. As we work on your case, we remain available to listen. Never hesitate to tell us what is on your mind.
What Are Wind Deductibles for Tornadoes?Parts of the country that are prone to certain disasters can have different insurance coverage to help companies offset the inherent risk of an area. This is because insurance companies anticipate having to pay for certain damages, and they don't want one storm to put them out of business. The result is what is called a disaster deductible. For states in Tornado Alley or other areas prone to tornadoes and windstorms, you could have a wind deductible. If a storm occurs, you will pay a specific amount before the insurance company pays for anything. As the Insurance Information Institute (III) explains, your deductible is usually a percentage of your home's value, up to five percent. For instance, if your house is worth $400,000, and your wind deductible is two percent of that, you would need to pay $8,000 before your insurance coverage kicks in for the rest of the damage. Knowing if you have a wind deductible (and how much) can prevent surprises when paying for certain losses out of pocket.
How Do You File a Tornado Damage Claim?After the storm, once you and your family are safe, you can immediately pursue the compensation you need. Typically, filing a tornado damage claim requires you to:
- Contact your insurance company to report your losses
- Provide your contact information, including if you have temporary housing
- Start cataloging your losses and create an inventory
- Take steps to prevent additional damage or loss
- Keep paperwork and receipts for repairs or replacements you make on your own
- Be present and prepared for the adjuster's inspection
- Consult contractors and repairmen to get estimates
What Happens if the Claims Adjuster Lowballs My Property's Damage?Even after the adjuster inspects your home and offers an estimate, you can seek a second opinion. Our lawyers work with a network of independent claims adjusters who can offer their insight into your damages' cost. These professionals have no obligation to the insurance company. They objectively evaluate your damages and offer other insights into your covered losses. At any point in this timeline, you can contact our team—especially if you feel the insurer isn't taking your needs seriously, treating you fairly, or addressing your claim in a timely manner. Sometimes, just having someone else on your side can push insurance companies to do what they should to help you.
Does Filing an Act of God Claim Affect Your Rates?Most people assume any insurance claim will raise their premiums. This compels some claimants to avoid filing insurance claims. However, acts of God, like a tornado or a windstorm, probably won't raise your insurance rates. You could not have avoided this situation, and the insurance company cannot punish you for seeking benefits In fact, the very definition of an act of God is something that is out of your control, such as a natural disaster. While you can potentially avoid a car accident or similar claim, you cannot avoid the impact of extreme weather. Consequently, don't put off filing a claim or seeking help out of fear of higher rates. In some cases, repairs or replacements may cost less than your deductible, but it's possible you don't realize the full extent of your expenses. When you connect with our team, we can evaluate your losses and explain any deductibles that apply.
What Should I Document When Filing a Tornado Damage Claim?When dealing with insurance companies in any situation, documentation is key. Not only will they ask for documentation about various aspects of your claim, but you can also help protect your own interests. If disagreements arise, having everything in writing can clear up disputes quickly. You should document:
- The names of adjusters and other people you talk to at the insurance company
- Information about your case, like your claim number and what the insurer told you
- Any questions you ask and the answers you receive
- Details about the timeline the insurer gave for your claim or for any repairs
- Estimates or values assigned to your claim by the adjuster
- The dates and times of emails, phone calls, or other interactions
- Any promises made by the adjuster or the company regarding your claim
Can I Negotiate a Higher Settlement Offer?The insurance company may undervalue your losses, hoping to protect its bottom line. When this happens, your legal team can negotiate a better offer. We can do this by using supporting documentation, which may include repair bills, invoices, and receipts. We can also cite the liable policy if you clearly have coverage, but the insurer won't follow through.
Can I Sue My Insurance Company?You can sue your insurance company if it violates the terms of your policy. Yet, our team can run through your options before we consider litigation. It's important to note that each state imposes a filing deadline on civil cases. This is known as “the statute of limitations.” It regulates how long you have to file a lawsuit against your insurer. If litigation could yield the compensation you need, the attorneys at Dolman Law Group can manage everything the process entails. We can file your case, compile supporting evidence, and pursue damages.
When Insurance Companies Behave Badly After a TornadoYou may have heard about insurance companies attempting to shift blame onto victims following car accidents or slips and falls. These cases usually revolve around assigning negligence, and disputes over liability can bring out the worst in people and businesses. However, you may assume that a natural disaster is a different scenario. No one is to blame. People just need the help promised by their policy. Unfortunately, insurance companies want to protect their business interests first. You, your family, your compensation, and your well-being come second, even after a tornado. To stay in business, your insurer may try to cut back on how much it pays out for claims, and it can use every resource available to do that. In some cases, these tactics are actually unethical. This is known as operating in bad faith. As noted, if the insurance company acts in bad faith, you can file a lawsuit. Our tornado bad faith claim attorneys can help by identifying unethical practices, gathering evidence of wrongdoing, and filing a lawsuit. We're tough litigators—and we're not afraid of advocating for what you need in court.
What Constitutes a Bad Faith Claim?When you file a claim with your insurance company following a major storm, you will undoubtedly face some frustrations; that is sadly how the system can work sometimes. Nonetheless, jumping through the required hoops for a claim is different from facing bad faith insurance practices. In contrast to the more traditional annoyances of navigating the claims process, bad faith can involve the insurance company:
- Being inaccessible or difficult to contact
- Not investigating your claim properly
- Failing to investigate your claim at all
- Requiring excessive proof for your claim
- Not paying your claim in a timely fashion
- Denying a valid claim
- Not providing a reason for claim denials
- Undervaluing your claim
- Not honoring the terms of your policy
- Misrepresenting the terms of your policy
- Dragging out the claims process
Distinguishing Between Common Tactics and Bad FaithRecognizing bad faith versus normal insurance tactics is sometimes tricky. Adjusters and other insurance company representatives may rely on loopholes and legalese to get their way, presenting challenges for laymen. They are also within their rights to conduct their own investigation and offer you the lowest possible settlement. While they must uphold their contract, they are not obligated to offer you the maximum compensation from the very beginning. Another aspect particularly relevant to natural disaster claims is what constitutes a “timely manner.” Settling your claim in a reasonable amount of time is relative to the situation. An insurance company may draw out your claim unfairly, or it could just be inundated with claims related to the storm in your area, forcing it to take longer to address everyone's needs. Knowing the difference can be challenging. Dolman Law Group can help you in both fighting for the maximum compensation and fighting against unfair treatment. In the former situation, we can negotiate for the best possible outcome. In the latter, we can hold the other party accountable for its side of your contract, even if it means going to court.
What Does a Tornado Bad Faith Insurance Claim Lawyer Do?In a bad faith suit, the burden is on you to demonstrate that your insurance company acted in bad faith. That means providing proof that it violated your contract by acting in any of the ways we listed above. A bad faith claim lawyer can build your case. That could involve compiling evidence like:
- How the insurance company failed to honor the terms of your policy
- Emails or written statements from insurance salespeople or adjusters that show they misrepresented the terms of your policy
- Receipts, appraisals, and estimates that show your tornado damage is worth more than the insurer claimed
- Timelines showing how long your claim took to process, including the delay of payment
- Emails and phone records that demonstrate your attempts to contact the insurer without a reply
- An independent investigation of your claim that shows that the insurer botched or neglected the investigation