living room water property damage

First Party Insurance Claims for Property Damage

What Is a 1st Party Property Damage Claim?

Policyholders in California are no strangers to homeowner’s insurance claims, such as those caused by water of fire damage, making it critical to understand how the first-party property damage claims process works.

A first-party insurance claim involves only the policyholder, or the first party, and the insurance company, which is the third party. When a policyholder suffers an unexpected disaster resulting in fire or water damage, among other types of damage, they may file a claim against their insurance company with the help of an attorney. Why hire a lawyer for a first-party property damage claim?

Retaining legal representation will protect your rights in filing your first-party insurance claim for property damage. Your lawyer will have the knowledge and ability to carefully examine the facts of the loss, the language of the policy, and the applicable law. All of these elements will give the policyholder a deeper understanding of the value of their property loss and help them work through any contested issues of coverage.

Legal One Law Group, APC has extensive experience with first-party insurance claims and can handle the process from start to finish on your behalf. Schedule your free consultation at (818) 446-2009 to learn more!

How to Prepare

The first thing a property owner should do is call a lawyer, such as Legal One Law Group, APC. When they do, their attorney will advise them to protect their property from further damage and save any relevant receipts to submit to their insurance company for reimbursement. Relevant receipts include ones that list expenses for temporary accommodations made while the home is getting repaired, such as hotel rooms. It’s important to avoid making significant, permanent repairs until the insurance company evaluates the damage to the property.

Before the claims adjuster comes to assess the damage, policyholders are encouraged to create a thorough inventory of their losses, including detailed descriptions of the damaged items, estimated purchase dates, and projected costs to replace or repair those items. Additionally, policy holders should keep any photos of videos of the damage. Our firm will help property owner’s get written bids from licensed contractors to expedite and simplify the claim adjustment process.

Once all of these steps are completed, a copy of the inventory, as well as copies of receipts, should be to our firm, who will evaluate it and send it to the insurance company.

How Much Will the Settlement Be?

With all of the information above in mind, you may be wondering what the outcome will look like. How high would your settlement be in a first-party property damage claim? The answer is not so simple and straightforward. As much as we want to give you an answer, it depends on your particular circumstances. However, with our firm in your corner, you will get a tireless legal team working to maximize your compensation and formulate fair and effective settlement negotiations for you.

To give you a better idea of how first-party property damage claims are settled, we explain 8 factors that determine the amount of your settlement below:

  1. Type of Policy

Your insurance policy plays a substantial role in calculating your settlement.

If you have a replacement cost value (RCV) policy, your insurer will replace the damaged items and property with materials of “like kind and quality,” absent deductions for deterioration, obsolescence, or related depreciation of the property’s value. Your insurer essentially covers the cost of repairing or replacing your damaged property.

If you have an actual cash value (ACV) policy, your insurer pays for a similar item minus depreciation. ACV policies take into account:

  • The cost to repair or replace the damaged property minus depreciation
  • The damaged property’s fair market value
  • Evidence of the damaged property’s value, known as the broad evidence rule, from which the insurer pays the difference between the depreciated value prior to the loss and the higher cost of repairing or replacing it

If fire or water damages your property to an irreparable point, your homeowners policy usually pays to replace it up to the policy limits, allowing you to rebuild your home within these limits. If you have an extended replacement cost policy, your insurer will pay 20% or more over the policy limit to rebuild your home. Rarely do insurers offer guaranteed replacement policies, though, as it pays all the costs of rebuilding your home as it was pre-disaster.

Mobile homeowners may have a stated amount policy, which provides the amount of money you agreed to when signing your policy. If you have a stated amount policy, it’s important to update your policy every year to ensure the stated amount will cover the replacement costs of your mobile home.

  1. Policy Limits

As you can see from the information above, your policy limits significantly affect your settlement. If you have replacement cost coverage, for instance, your settlement will cover ALL repair and replacement costs. Keep in mind, however, that your settlement may not account for home improvements you’ve made without telling your insurer at the time. Should you retain our counsel, our attorney can walk you through your policy and help you understand how the details apply to your unique circumstances.

  1. Temporary living expenses

As we discussed earlier, you should keep receipts of temporary living expenses you made while your property is being repaired or replaced. Your insurer may pay you up-front for costs such as eating out, transportation, rent, and utility and telephone installations in your temporary residence.

  1. Rebuilding and Repairing

Your settlement will also depend on how you respond to your property damages. You could rebuild a new home on the same lot, sell the land and get a house out of state, or decide to rent. If you decide to repair the damage, you could downgrade to avoid paying the difference in cash or upgrade, which would require you to pay the difference between the upgrade and the cost of the damaged item. Should you avoid rebuilding, your settlement will depend on California law, legal precedents, and your policy.

When you hire our firm, our lawyer will be on-site at the inspection to ensure no stone is left unturned. We will work closely with your adjuster to understand the reasons behind their determinations and challenge any unfair or flawed estimates on your behalf to help maximize your settlement and protect your rights.

       5. Compensation

During your inspection, our attorney will collaborate with the adjuster to collect the most accurate information on current and potential damage to your property. We very well understand that water damage is not always obvious and can present itself in various ways over time, therefore, you can rely on us to take a comprehensive approach not only during your inspection but at every stage of the process.

When you hire our firm, our lawyer will be on-site at the inspection to ensure no stone is left unturned. We will work closely with your adjuster to understand the reasons behind their determinations and challenge any unfair or flawed estimates on your behalf to help maximize your settlement and protect your rights.

   

Need Help with the Process? Can’t Agree on a Settlement Amount?

A disaster of any size and scope is emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing. Damage caused by fire or water is no exception, leaving residents feeling anxious and overburdened with the first-party property damage claims process. Our proven and experienced attorneys understand how inconvenient the process can be, especially if you and your insurer’s adjuster can’t agree on a settlement amount.

With the help of Legal One Law Group, APC, we can help make your life a little easier by helping you get back up on your feet. We can handle all stages of the claims process on your behalf and uphold your best interests first and foremost, so you can feel a weight lifted off your shoulders.

To discuss your situation and learn how we can help you, contact us online or at (818) 446-2009!

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