What You Need to Know About Insurance Denials
Boat Insurance Denial? Help Is Here! Serving All of Florida
A family has a boat. They go to their insurance agent they have known for years. They leave that agent’s office with an insurance card and believe that if anything happens to the vessel the insurance company will be there and cover it. If you are reading this paragraph you probably already know that statement is not always correct. Many times we see insurers denying claims because of terms written into their policies that are not always obvious. One other factor is that several of the auto insurers have now gotten into insuring vessels in the last ten years. With that they brought the auto insurers way of handling claims. (i.e., denying claims)
If an insurer tells you “no” on your claim, and you merely walk away from the claim, the insurer wins.
There is good news. In Florida, when you force your insurer to cover a claim which they previously denied, you may be able to recover attorney’s fees from them. This can make a big difference in cases where the claim is not very large. The cost of hiring an attorney to fight the claim for you can be more than the claim in some cases, but if the insurer has to pay your attorney’s fees you have a much better chance of getting an attorney to represent you. This also can influence the insurer to re-think its position if they understand they can be held responsible for your attorney’s fees.
We handle insurance denial claims. If you have a claim against your own insurer because of a denial, call us to review your claim. If we recover for you against your insurer, they may have to pay your attorney’s fees in addition to paying you.
In almost every marine insurance or damage claim, we handle them on contingency. Meaning, if we do not recover for you then you do not owe us anything, no fee, no costs. Call us for a free evaluation of your claim. 888-BOAT-LAW.
**Also, if your claim is against another vessel, owner, repair facility, marina, etc., we handle those types of claims as well.
Don’t Get Cheated on Your Boat Insurance Claim.
[Hints on How Not to Get Cheated by the Insurance Company]
When your boat or JetSki is damaged the last thing you need is to be cheated on the repair or replacement of that vessel. This includes whether the incident was because of an at-fault operator, your fault, or an act of nature. The following information will be helpful to protect you from getting shorted by the insurer on your claim—and if you need us to fight for you, the following advice will help us help you.
Document the Loss.
Information. Evidence. Documentation. This is how you prove your side of the case. Take more photographs of the vessel than you believe would be needed. (HINT: I’m not talking about 10 or 12 photographs, I am talking about 50-100.) Take video of the vessel. Take photographs and video of the scene if it is relevant to the loss. You have to look at your claim as though no one knows anything about it.
Don’t Get Rid of the Vessel.
If your claim involves an at-fault person then their insurance company is going to want to inspect your vessel. If the claim involves only your insurance company they also are going to want to inspect the vessel. If you get rid of the vessel you will be providing an excuse for the insurance companies to deny your claim. CAUTION: Don’t get rid of the vessel because this can be a very effective defense if the case goes before a judge. If the claim is through your insurance company, you are required to allow them to examine the vessel and they may want to take your recorded statement. We discourage giving a recorded statement to any insurer without counsel. It is no secret that insurers make money by taking in more than they pay out. Insurers have scripted questions designed to help them, not you.
Total Loss Valuation or Repair.
One or more insurers are going to want to send out an inspector—known as a marine surveyor in maritime law–to examine your vessel. Many times the repair estimate or valuation of the worth of your vessel comes back low. The marine surveyor knows who he is working for, and he plans to keep on getting paid by the insurance company by giving low-ball evaluations on repairs and total losses. CAUTION: What you say to the insurer’s marine surveyor can be used against you. The marine surveyor comes out not only to evaluate the extent of damage (i.e., the “how much” question) but also many times to determine the cause of the loss. (i.e., the “why did this happen” question). CAUTION: The second question is extremely important. This is because marine insurance companies are notorious for denying claims which you would never have imagined would be denied. If you look back over your marine insurance policy—in the “Exclusions” section—you will find a long list of excuses used by insurance companies to deny their own customer’s claims. Be very careful what you say to any marine surveyor who comes out to examine your vessel. Remember, they are not there to help you. They do not work for you. They work for an insurer. That insurer wants to pay as little as possible, or not at all.
Whether you go through your own insurance company or that of an at-fault person to recover your damages you have to be careful what you say. Your insurance company and that of any at-fault person will look for an excuse to deny your claim. Your own insurer can allege that you did something wrong, or maybe, they suggest, “corrosion”, or “pests”, or “deterioration” caused the loss. (Check that list of Exclusions in the insurance policy.) We highly recommend that you do not go it alone against the insurer. Once you make statements to the insurer(s) and take positions, it is very difficult to un-do or explain away something that was said in a recorded statement. Again, recognize that the marine surveyor is working for the insurer. The adjuster assigned to your claim is working for the insurer. It is unfortunate but in today’s world the typical question an insurer asks is not “How much do we owe Mr. Jones”? The insurer’s question is, “Can we find a reason not to pay Mr. Jones anything”?
If we force your insurer to pay your claim, they may have to pay your attorney’s fees.
We Are Ready to Help You Right Now.
***None of the foregoing is legal advice and is not meant to give legal advice. Each case is different. This is why it is important to contact us on the specific facts of your case. What you say in making the claim can greatly affect your outcome.