4 Reasons Why You Should Consult an Attorney When Dealing with Wildfire Claims
Statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) show that as of October 28, 2022, wildfires in the U.S. have burned a total of 7,211,472 acres. Wildfires are a serious risk in the U.S. and especially in California. They can burn down homes, destroy businesses, and take lives all too quickly.
According to a report by National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), wildfires in the U.S. led to damages worth over $11 billion between 2021 and 2022. Thus, apart from destroying life and property, wildfires lead to huge financial losses as well. That’s why it’s vital to stay vigilant when it comes to wildfire insurance claims.
If you’ve been affected by a wildfire and are unsure of how to proceed with your claim or if you’re dealing with an insurance company that won’t pay up, it’s time to call an attorney. Here are a few reasons why
#1 Wildfire Claims Can be Complicated
Wildfires are not like other types of claims. A wildfire can affect entire communities and burn thousands of acres in a matter of hours, creating an overwhelming amount of damage.
Insurance adjusters who specialize in other types of property damage may not have expertise in handling wildfire claims, which can complicate matters further. Insurance companies often do not have enough resources for all their clients after a big fire, so they may be unable to process your claim quickly or thoroughly.
It’s important to retain an experienced wildfire attorney when dealing with any type of wildfire insurance claim. It could save you time and money down the line by helping ensure that everything is handled properly from the start. Wildfire victims often rally together and work with a legal team of wildfire attorneys to get what they deserve.
#2 Your Insurance Company is Obligated to Deal with Its Customers in Good Faith
The Insurance Code requires insurance companies to deal with their customers in good faith and to provide fair treatment and just compensation for claims.
In the event of a wildfire, an insured has the right to a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of his/her claim. The insurance company must consider your claim within 45 days after receiving notice from you that you want them to pay for loss or damage caused by the wildfire.
They are also required under law to work with you in good faith towards resolving any disputes between yourselves on how much money is owed by one party versus another. This means not arbitrarily denying coverage nor refusing reasonable offers made by an injured party without first providing a written explanation.
If they do, however, turn back from their words, you must have an attorney by your side to deal with the situation. You alone can’t take on an entire insurance business, which is why an attorney must be there to fight on your behalf.
#3 Might Help Avoid a Lawsuit Against the Insurer
You may be thinking that it’s not worth the time and money to consult an attorney. After all, you’ve been paying your insurance premiums for years, and they have always paid out on time. You might think that if you just wait things out, everything will be fine.
However, what if they don’t pay? What if they try to deny coverage or claim that the damage was pre-existing or caused by something else? You’d want someone who knows how to negotiate with them so you can get what is owed to you and maybe even more than what is owed.
Your wildfire attorney will battle on your behalf and make sure that your insurer can’t falsify your claims or try to deceive you in any way. The attorney, in doing so, will help you avoid further legal confrontation with your insurer down the line.
#4 You Must Make Sure You are Dealing with the Right People
Amid wildfire damage, it is important to make sure you are dealing with the right people. You do not want to sign anything or give out personal information to anyone until you are certain they are legitimate and can help you with your claim.
Do not be afraid to ask questions and research any company or organization that offers services relating to insurance claims. If someone says they want to help you negotiate a settlement for less than what you deserve, walk away from them as fast as possible.
Instead, put your attorney in front to deal with it. They will know who they are up against and how to get the best deal out of the situation.
Besides, there are many possible legal loopholes that you might not be aware of. Your insurer might try to use those in their favor to avoid paying you. Your attorney, however, is well aware of these tactics and can know how to counter them when needed.
As per data cited by the National Park Service, humans cause 85 percent of all yearly wildfires in the U.S. That means at any given time. There’s someone responsible for your loss due to wildfire. Thus, it’s only logical that you seek compensation from them for their negligence.
In conclusion, although it may seem daunting for those who are not familiar with the legal system, speaking with a lawyer can be extremely beneficial in helping you navigate through the process of handling your wildfire claim.