Advocate Law Group
Every year, fires and other natural disasters wreak havoc upon hundreds of thousands of American’s homes and businesses. The damage caused by fires alone stretches into billions of dollars annually. The people affected by these disasters often turn to their insurer to help them recover, but unfortunately, some insurance companies will refuse valid claims or severely underpay what they are on the hook for. At the Advocate Law Group, we understand that the last thing anyone facing fire or other homeowner losses should have to deal with is an uncooperative insurance company. We have decades of experience taking on insurance companies on behalf of consumers – let us fight for you and recover the money you deserve.
When faced with a fire damage insurance claim, the first thing many insurers do is look for a way to deny payment. Right off the bat, they will usually launch an investigation into the cause of the fire to determine if the policy was in force and if the loss is even covered under the policyholder’s plan. The insurer and its lawyers will scrutinize the application for the policy to see if the policyholder (or sometimes his or her agent) may have made a statement they can claim was false or misleading, or omitted to disclose something on the application, or not fully described the risk, or not done everything possible to limit further damage after the fire occurred.
The insurer might try to get out of paying the claim and argue that the fire was caused by an event the policy does not cover (e.g., arson), or the insurer was notified too late, or that the claimed damage was pre-existing or exaggerated and not nearly as severe as it actually is. Additionally, fires almost always cause problems beyond the immediate damage from the fire itself. For instance, the fire might destroy the structure’s plumbing or electrical systems, or it might expose the house to wind and rain damage. The smoke and soot a fire emits will also often cause serious problems – both to the structure itself and its occupants. While some fire insurance policies cover these derivative damages, others will only cover direct damages from the fire itself – it is very important to pay attention to the specific language of your policy.
Fires involving businesses are even more complex. Considering the insurer will need to cover (depending on the policy) damage to the businesses’ products/inventories, damage to the structure, and the costs and losses of income from business interruptions, these cases can be very costly for insurers. As a result, they will frequently undervalue these costs to reduce their payouts and shift the burden onto the business owner. They often hire special investigators to look for ways to support their claims and thus reduce their payments. At Advocate, we have decades of experience combatting these shady tactics and helping clients win big.
Wildfire/Forest Fire Losses
Wildfires and forest fires are devastating forces of nature that destroy virtually everything in their path. Unfortunately, such fires are becoming more and more common – according to the New York Times, these fires consumed over 4 million acres in California alone in 2020, over twice as much as the previous annual record. The vast majority of forest fires are manmade, usually stemming from carelessness (leaving campfires burning, throwing out lit cigarettes, etc.) or corporate negligence. For instance, the irresponsible maintenance of electric powerlines by California utility companies has been blamed for a host of damaging fires in the past decade.
The problems caused by these fires are diverse and serious. Not only do forest fires pose all of the same threats as normal fires (smoke inhalation, burns, property destruction, etc.) but the way they radically alter the landscape also has serious consequences for the people living there. For instance, a forest fire that burns through a rural area will usually devastate the region’s agriculture and leave its farmers struggling as the land will take years to recover. The fact forest fires burn everything in their path (including toxic chemicals) can also create severe problems for anyone who breathes in the smoke, which does not fully dissipate until days after the fire finally burns out.
In evaluating fire insurance claims, multiple parties can often be responsible, including utility companies, contractors, state/government agencies, and landscaping companies. Although many people who live in areas prone to fires have some sort of forest fire insurance, these policies are often insufficient for the costs of rebuilding their livelihoods, businesses and homes after a fire. Insurance companies have been known to try to convince policyholders their claim is not strong and make quick low-ball offers to settle that severely undervalue the damages in question, hoping a desperate person accepts and lets them off the hook for pennies on the dollar. If you have been affected by a forest fire, it is critical that you contact experienced attorneys who know how to hold insurance companies accountable. At Advocate Law Group, we have a fantastic track record of taking on these insurers and helping victims of fires recover the payments they deserve.
In addition to fires, homeowners face a variety of potential threats that can seriously damage their homes and belongings. Natural disasters like floods, mudslides, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes have a devastating effect on millions of Americans each year. Insurers sell policies designed to protect homeowners from these threats, but all too often, when the disaster comes, insurers will look for a way to get off the hook. We have seen this story unfold time after time here at Advocate, and each time it does we have taken an active role in holding these companies accountable by winning big for clients – contact us today for a free consultation.
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The attorneys in the Advocate Law Group network bring decades of real-world experience in both law and insurance.