In the early morning hours of June 14, 2022, a severe storm struck the Ohio Valley, devasting areas of Wheeling and surrounding areas in both West Virginia and Ohio. Trees were uprooted taking down power lines and damaging homes, businesses, and automobiles throughout Belmont and Ohio Counties. Thousands were without power for days. Damage in Ohio County was so severe that the area was declared a state of emergency by Governor Jim Justice with the National Guard being called in for assistance.
You Buy Insurance to Protect Yourself from Disaster
While dealing with the storm and its initial aftermath were hard enough, many homeowners and businesses are now dealing with the headache of dealing with their own insurance companies to restore their property to its pre-storm condition and recoup losses caused by days without electricity. Homeowners and businesses buy insurance to protect themselves when the unexpected, such as the intensity of storms that recently tore through Bridgeport, Wheeling, Triadelphia, and Valley Grove, damage their property or force them to unexpectedly close, losing inventory and income. Insurers are expected to promptly, reasonably, and fairly evaluate the damage and to compensate their insureds for what cannot be repaired or replaced and provide their insureds the funds to repair or replace what can be repaired or replaced.
The attorneys at Gold, Khourey & Turak are experienced in helping insureds navigate the claim process when their insurance company isn’t living up to expectations and its legal obligations. If you have presented a claim to your insurance company and have been denied, or you feel your claim has been undervalued, Gold, Khourey & Turak can assist you in obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled under your policy and the law. Our attorneys offer free consultations and there’s never a fee unless we recover compensation for you. We are available 24 hours a day by phone or text at (304) 845-9750, online at GKT.com by Live Chat, or you can complete our online form and we will get in touch with you as soon as we can.
How to File an Insurance Claim and What to Expect
The first step to making a storm damage claim is to promptly notify your insurance company that your home or business sustained damage due to the weather event. This would include if your business was forced to be closed because you lost power and could not open or lost inventory. After you report the claim, your insurance company should send an adjuster to inspect the damage and provide an initial estimate. The initial estimate should detail the damage the insurance company acknowledges was caused by the storm. At this second step, the insurance company will also take a position on what it is willing to pay to resolve your claim. All too often, what the insurance company is willing to pay is far less than you think should be paid.
At this point, the insurance company will start throwing around terms such as “actual cash value,” “repair versus replacement cost,” and “depreciation” to justify its settlement offer. Maybe the insurance company is claiming that you haven’t demonstrated the value of your lost business inventory or income adequately or that it is too speculative to be recovered as part of your claim. The terms of your policy and how those terms are construed under state law will control how much the insurance company is obligated to pay. Something to watch out for is the insurance company utilizing labor and material costs for a different area of the country which are far lower than what prevails in the Ohio Valley.
Don’t Blindly Accept What the Insurance Company Says
Your insurance company is counting on you to accept its interpretation of the scope of damages and what is due under your policy. After all, the insurance company wrote the policy so it should know what it says, right? The adjuster will tell you he or she deals with damage claims every day. He or she should know if something can be repaired or should be replaced and the fair market value of things, right? Well, not always. Keep in mind that insurance adjustors work for the insurance company and their job is to save their employer money.
It is at this point that you should contact an attorney if you are not satisfied with the answers you are receiving from your insurance company. At GKT, we deal with these types of issues every day. If you are not satisfied with the answers you are receiving from your insurance company, contact our office at (304) 845-9750. Our attorneys understand the process and we know how to interpret policies in accordance with applicable law. We know the obligations the law places on insurance companies to handle claims presented by insureds fairly and reasonably. Our results speak for themselves. Our attorneys are experienced at forcing insurers to comply with policy provisions and applicable law when handling claims presented by their own insureds.
What Kind of Storm Damage Did You Suffer? GKT Can Help.
Did a tree fall on your roof creating a hole that lets you see the sky but your insurance company is insisting it will only pay a minimal amount and you suspect it is because the cost of a proper repair approximates the value of your home? Do you have an older retaining wall that was damaged when a tree fell on it displacing some blocks and breaking others but your insurer is telling you it will only pay for the cost of the broken blocks even though the entire wall will need to be replaced to repair it appropriately because well, the wall was reaching the end of its natural life and would need replaced soon anyway? Did the wind tear off shingles from your home’s roof but your insurance company is insisting that it can be repaired by simply replacing the specific torn off shingles but all roofing contractors you’ve consulted tell you the entire portion of the roof that lost shingles must be replaced to prevent further leaks and damage? GKT attorneys have handled these exact situations and held insurance companies accountable for the full value of our client’s claim.
Is Your Insurance Company Being Unreasonable? GKT Can Help.
If your insurance company is acting unreasonably in evaluating and handling your storm damage claim, you may also be entitled to recover damages for your annoyance and aggravation. The same is true if your insurance company has misrepresented your insurance policy provisions in an effort to get you to accept less than what you were entitled to recover. You may also be able to recover your attorney fees and costs.
If you are unhappy with how your insurance company is handling your storm damage claim and believe that the cost to repair the damage to your home or business is far more than your insurance company is telling you, contact GKT. Our attorneys can review your policy, determine what coverage you have, and help you develop the evidence necessary to show your insurance company has unreasonably undervalued your claim and hold your insurance company to its contractual obligations and obtain for you the compensation you deserve.
At GKT, we offer free consultations and there’s never a fee unless we recover compensation for you. We are available 24 hours a day by phone or text at (304) 845-9750, online at GKT.com by Live Chat, or you can complete our online form and we will get in touch with you as soon as we can.