What to do if can’t reach agreement with the insurance agency?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 1, 2012

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Insurance Question from Washington, DC

Asked on 01/01/2012

What to do if can’t reach agreement with the insurance agency? The upstaire tenants ruin our rental property's ceilings and walls with water damage and their people came opened up the walls and ceilings without our consent during inspection. Later the insurance agency came back with an estimate of repairment for $7,000 which is much lower than our contractor's estimate of over $20,000. It has been almost two years and we have not reached the agreement yet. What should we do? Their insurance agency is the same as ours...please help!

Answer given on January 02, 2012

The fact that they have the same insurance agency should not make a difference.  Do you have a copy of the estimate from the insurance company? Have you been able to compare it side by side with your contractors estimate? Where is the difference? Is it in the hourly cost of labor? In materials? Is it in the scope of what actually needs to be ripped out and repaired—meaning has your contractor included more and the insurance company included less? Have you gotten a second estimate to show that your contractor’s estimate is in line? This might be necessary.  Have your contractor talk directly with the insurance adjuster and go over the details of the estimate and where they differ to see if they can come to an understanding. A $13,000 difference is huge and it is probably obvious what is making up the difference.  Are they saying that they are not covering a certain part that has been included in your contractor’s estimate?  Without knowing all the details, we can only speculate. Having your contractor talk directly to them may help.  You can also file a complaint with your Department of Insurance for DC . If you feel the offer is in bad faith or they have prolonged your settlement on purpose, the DOI should know about these actions.

You may also need to involve an attorney to help in resolving the settlement dispute. If after trying the suggestions above, you find that you still can’t reach an agreement, contact an attorney who has expertise in property claims and bad faith settlements.  Most will give you a free consultation. Click here to find an attorney in your area. 



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