Apartment Complex Insurance Claims
Buying insurance is the act of betting against yourself and hoping you lose. However, all too often insurance companies exploit policyholder vulnerability and illicitly further tip the scales to make collecting on claims more difficult through a seemingly endless series of bureaucratic hoops and tricks. They may attempt to deny, delay, or underpay claims for a number of reasons and rationalizations. Given the nature of insurance, insurance companies enjoy tremendous leverage over policyholders, which is why they often succeed in rejecting or reducing claims. Naturally, the consequences stemming from shortfalls in insurance recovery can be catastrophic. However, policyholders are not defenseless, nor should they settle for less than they are due. Courts in this country are great equalizers, and litigation (or the threat thereof) serves to secure justice for policyholders, apartment complex owners included. Whether an insurance company is delaying, reducing, or outright rejecting client claims, there is a legal remedy to any such insurance company maneuvers.
Firstly, getting legal advice from the onset of an insurance policy could make the difference between winning and losing a potential claim dispute down the road. Insurance policy conditions are long and complicated. However while apartment complex owners and management are tremendously busy with their own duties, understanding those conditions is critically important to ensuring a policyholder can collect on a claim. To that end, legal counsel can advise on those agreements to ensure the conditions are fair and that the policyholder is aware of their rights and obligations vis-à-vis the insurance company. For instance, insurance companies thrive on rejecting or reducing claims based on timely notice requirements. Timely notice requirements function as a statute of limitations on making a claim, beyond which an insurance provider is no longer obligated to pay out a claim. Securing counsel to identify and and address such provisions will ensure that insurance companies are held to the agreements they make. Moreover, attorneys specializing in insurance have experience in the field and can thus negotiate from a position of greater strength than a lay policyholder.
However, even when a policyholder fully understands his or her insurance plan, insurance companies can still prove difficult to work with when it comes time to pay out claims. In order to limit their financial exposure, insurance companies will interpret damage in a light most favorable to them. They will assess damage through technicalities such as defining covered damage in a manner that puts it outside of the scope of the insurance plan. Perhaps most notably for commercial properties, insurance companies will try to avoid paying out for lost business resulting from damage to property. The business of the apartment complex is rent. Where fire, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other disasters damage buildings, units are uninhabitable and thus cannot collect rent. The longer an insurance company takes to pay out a claim, the longer it takes to repair the damage and to restore the building to full income generating capacity. Moreover, even when insurance companies finally do pay, they often construe loss of rent as an uninsured eventuality, for which they are not liable to pay. Furthermore, when a property suffers damage from a disaster—natural or otherwise—there is the additional cost of advertising in order to replace lost tenants and to restore confidence in the building or company’s brand. This is wrong, but alas something insurance companies can get away with when policy holders do not understand their rights or needlessly accept unfavorable terms when getting their policy.
Unfortunately accidents also happen as a product of human error. Tenants, guests, and other visitors get injured in apartment complexes and other rental buildings every day. Whether they slip and fall on wet floor the maintenance staff forgot to dry or a building defect causes serious bodily harm or even death, the building owner and management could be liable for high damages. Insurance companies are notorious for employing technically favorable interpretations and heavy-handed, slanted investigative methods to evade covering policyholder losses. Insurance companies are especially cavalier in rejecting claims from policyholders they feel are inadequately prepared to fight for their policy. The aforementioned insurance law specialists command the respect necessary to curtail this behavior in most cases and to punish them in court where insurance companies persist in shirking their duty to their policyholders.
The prospect of hiring legal counsel may appear daunting. Litigation can seem intimidating to many, but when left to professional attorneys who specialize in insurance litigation, the burden on the policyholder is significantly lighter. And although legal counsel can be expensive, experienced litigators often minimize the cost to their clients by preventing cases from going to court altogether and getting high awards for clients when trial is unavoidable to offset the cost. Legal representation, like property insurance, is a hedge against an unpleasant eventuality. However, like property insurance, attorneys can ensure that clients are made whole, which was the original purpose of the insurance, and without which a property owner may be liable to cover the entire cost of damage the insurance company should rightly pay. Moreover, many insurance litigators represent clients on contingency, which means they only take payment from awards they secure for their client in settlement or from a trial verdict. In these cases, property owners can free up capital to make repairs and resume normal renting operations while still pursuing compensation for the claim payout to which they are entitled.
Insurance is meant to prepare for the unexpected and, to that end, insurance companies are expected to honor their agreements. However, insurance companies, like the unexpected disasters they insure, can behave unpredictably and unfavorably. In such cases, legal action is often the only remedy to an unfortunate chain of unanticipated events. However, unlike insurance companies, attorneys have a personal, professional duty and to seek justice for their clients and a bona fide incentive to get the best result for their client they can. Moreover, insurance litigators are equipped to guide policyholders through the insurance policy process from start to finish and to provide comfort and security in a time when unexpected turbulence threatens to ruin an apartment building’s ability to function and destroy lives. To that end, experienced insurance litigators consistently get favorable results and in doing so put achieve the ultimate goal of insurance, to make policyholder whole.