I disagree with the settlement offerred by my homeowners insurance company. Do I have any options available?
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Asked November 10, 2014
You are not required to automatically accept the first offer made by your home insurance company. If you do not like the offer you were made, do not accept it and do not sign any papers which close the claim or relieve the insurance company of responsibility. Even if you are told that is the final offer, you have the right to appeal the decision before giving in to the insurer.
Some companies will authorize adjusters to make a settlement on the spot, but this is not always the best way to handle a claim. For example, if the repairs wind up costing a lot more than the estimate, you would have to pay the difference out of pocket. It is okay to accept a partial payment as long as it is agreed in writing that the remainder will be paid when repairs are complete. This keeps the claim open and works in your favor if something unexpected arises.
You have the right to present the insurance companies with independent estimates and damage appraisals to back up your claim. You will be responsible for paying for those services out of pocket, but providing several estimates from licensed contractors may work equally well. The adjuster sent out on the claim works for the insurer, so having an independent adjuster look at the damages will often result in a completely different view of the costs.
If all else fails, you can file a dispute or an appeal. This is done by informing the insurance company in writing of the problem you are having and your intention to seek intervention in the case. Contact your state's Department of Insurance for more information on insurance appeals and disputes in your state.
Answered November 10, 2014 by Anonymous