Do Not Delay.
There’ll be a State statute of limitations, three years in Washington and two in Idaho. Also, many insurance companies include a clause in their policies that requires the policyholder to bring suit within a certain period, usually one year, regardless of what the statute of limitations is in your State.
Take Notes If You Speak To An Insurance Representative.
Be very careful of what you say to anyone from the company, because it could be used against you. Don’t volunteer anything. Before you speak to anyone, read through your policy and notes. Also obtain legal advice first.
When you do speak to someone, take notes with the date and time on the page, and note the person’s name and phone number. These are large companies and could send you a different adjuster from the one you first talk to. You’ll want to be able to prove what the previous one told you.
Collect Materials to Support Your Claim.
Find any manuals that came with your lost or destroyed property. Take photographs. If you have to discard anything that’s damaged, you’ll need a record of what it was, proof that you did indeed own it, and that it was damaged.
If you’re injured, take photos of your injuries and keep notes on all medical care. Keep all receipts and copies of all prescriptions.
Don’t Accept the Insurance Company's Evaluation of Your Loss.
Since insurance companies make their money by investing, they prefer to hang on to all their cash and keep it invested where they can collect interest on it. Therefore, they’ll value your losses as low as they can. Hire an independent expert to value your losses. You might be surprised by the discrepancies.
Be Truthful About Your Loss.
There’s no point in trying to claim more than you’re entitled to claim, on the theory that the company will pay you too little anyway. If your case has to go to court, such a maneuver will be discovered and won’t be to your credit. Just stick to the truth and fight to obtain what you’re entitled to by way of compensation.
Remember: the courts are not necessarily on the side of the insurance company.
If there’s an ambiguity in the policy text, it must be interpreted in the policyholder’s favor.
Courts will prefer to assign a “plain meaning” to policy text rather than some obscure or specialized legal meaning. A plain meaning is one that we, the consumers of insurance, would give to that language.
If there’s an exclusion in your policy that’s obscure or overly complex, courts will tend to interpret it narrowly, such that the policyholder’s interests are supported.
If a court finds any part of your policy to be written grossly in favor of the insurance company and at your expense, it can find that part to be “unconscionable” and may decline to enforce it.
Whether or not your policy contains a “covenant of good faith”, or “promise of fair dealing”, a judge will consider it to be there anyway and will hold the company to such a provision.
Be cautious of bad faith situations.
If your insurance company appears to be acting in bad faith with you, such as
- Denying your claim,
- Delaying payment too long, or
- Offering only a fraction of what you should be paid,
you need an experienced insurance claims attorney to help you file a bad faith insurance claim. A good attorney will give you a better chance of establishing legally that your insurance company acted in bad faith, and breached their promise of fair dealing. When that’s established, you’ll be able to recover damages, which will usually include:
- Compensation for your original loss,
- Loss of use of the insurance proceeds,
- General damages,
- Attorneys' fees, and in cases of outrageous misconduct,
- Punitive damages
Every Case is Different.
The Nordstrom Law Firm can assess the particular circumstances of your case and decide what sort of action will most likely redress your injury. Contact the Nordstrom Law Firm today at 509-924-8000 or through our contact form.