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Why Would My Hurricane Damage Claim Be Denied?

— October 5, 2022

Failure to meet a deadline could be a justified reason to deny your claim, but if they set you unreasonable deadlines this is something you need to discuss with a lawyer.

As the widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Ian made headlines around the world, you’d expect recovering damages for any property loss will be a piece of cake. After all, everyone saw it on live TV. Unfortunately, there is someone who may argue the damage to your home has nothing to do with the hurricane and that person may very well be the insurance adjuster in charge of your claim. Homeowners’ insurance claims get denied all the time, and the best way to avoid such an unpleasant situation is to work closely with seasoned South Carolina lawyers.

Main reasons a hurricane damage claim could be denied

There are cases when a denial is fully justified, but in many others, it isn’t. The insurance guys will try to exploit your ignorance of the laws and regulations and use all sorts of bogus pretexts to deny a legitimate claim. 

Premiums not paid on time

Unfortunately, this is one of the cases where the insurance company can and will deny your claim. An insurance policy is basically a legally binding contract. If you fail to do your part, they are entitled to cancel your policy.

Missed deadlines

As a rule, you must notify your insurance carrier of the damage as soon as possible. It would be a good idea to review the terms of your policy to make sure you don’t miss any deadline imposed. 

The insurer will ask you to submit certain documents, such as a repair cost estimate or a list of damaged belongings. You need to submit those on time and obtain proof that you did. Also, keep copies of any documents you submit just in case something gets mysteriously misplaced. 

Failure to meet a deadline could be a justified reason to deny your claim, but if they set you unreasonable deadlines this is something you need to discuss with experienced South Carolina hurricane damages claims lawyers. The same applies if they keep asking for all sorts of documents, many of them irrelevant to your claim. They’ll tell you they’re just doing their job, but knowledgeable insurance claims attorneys will tell you this is a very big red flag. Making the policyholder jump through the hoops and provide stacks of unnecessary documents is a well-known delay strategy.

Peril is not covered

Red denied stamp; image by tswedensky, via
Red denied stamp; image by tswedensky, via

If the insurance adjuster starts arguing you don’t have coverage for a certain type of damage, don’t waste any time. Look up skilled South Carolina insurance claims lawyers and let them have a look at your policy. 

Hurricane damage is covered under a typical South Carolina homeowner’s insurance policy. However, make sure you never use words like “flood” or “flooding” in your claim. Flooding is not covered under a standard policy. 

Let’s say the strong winds tore part of your roof and everything in your house was soaked through by the rain. Don’t ever say “my house was flooded” to refer to rain damage. 

Disagreement on the value of your claim

The insurance adjuster may dispute your repair cost estimate. Your lawyers can put you in touch with a public adjuster. These guys are independent experts, they don’t work for the insurer, so they have no reason to minimize the value of your claim.

Even if they do deny your claim, your lawyers can help you appeal the decision. You are allowed to submit more documents at this stage, including an independent estimate of the damage.

Most claims are eventually settled, but if the insurer still denies your claim on a bogus pretext, you have the right to file a lawsuit against them on bad faith insurance charges. If you can prove their denial was unjustified, you can get your damages, plus your attorney’s fees.

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