When Fire Causes a Total Loss, Will Your Insurance Step Up?

Employment, Insurance, Malpractice, and Estate Attorneys Serving Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Castle Rock & Nearby Colorado

Posted: January 7, 2022

The Marshall Fire, which resulted in devastating property losses including 991 structures, is still under investigation as of this article. With a known loss of between $819 million and $1.6 billion worth of homes alone, recovery will take time, but that doesn’t mean those who experienced a loss from the fire have time to wait.

Initiating a claim is only the first step. Collecting recent evidence of your property – buildings, clothing, vehicles, appliances, collectables, and inherited valuables – in order to replace, to the extent possible, the items you lost with similar items of equal value is an important next step. If you don’t have a digital document stored online, demonstrating what you had – Instagram photos, credit card receipts, warranty information – may suffice as proof of what you owned.

What if my insurer denies that I owned the items I’ve submitted for coverage?

Under most insurance policies, there are covered categories of items and caps for each of the categories unless specific items have been itemized. When the value of your items surpasses the cap in a category, an effort by an insurer to argue over specific items could signal bad faith, and seeking counsel may be your most important next step.

What should I do if my insurer acts to reduce the value of my claim below the terms of my contract?

When an insurer violates the terms of your insurance contract, the company may be acting in “bad faith.” Bad faith is a legal term used to describe when a business or individual reneges on its obligations. You were promised a level of coverage when you purchased your insurance policy. That coverage is what you and your family deserve. Finding an experienced attorney to represent you could make the difference between getting what you are owed and being unfairly shorted on your claim.

What if my insurer holds out for a criminal investigation in relation to the damage done?

While investigators are focusing on a particular source of the fire, the potential for criminal charges does not significantly affect whether insurance companies need to pay claims to those who suffered losses. Should blame be laid on an individual or organization for the fire’s origin, insurance companies can seek remuneration through the courts.

What is most pressing now is that insurers act swiftly to help families recover. The longer you are out of your home without access to your personal items while bearing the costs of rehousing, the more likely that insurance bad faith is occurring.

How should I respond if my insurance company is stalling or denying part or all of my loss from the Marshall Fire?

The best response in such an instance is to seek immediate counsel from an attorney with experience litigating and negotiating constructive outcomes in instances of insurance bad faith. It is important to have an experienced attorney in such cases because insurers may try numerous methods of mitigating their liability – recording an interview with you to see if you will make an error or accept responsibility, providing a partial payment with terms that a cashed check closes the claim, and providing you plans that are unreasonably low or which fail to meet code requirements.

A firm with a background in insurance bad faith, like the team at Leventhal Lewis, is able to review documents, advise you of your rights, and help you sidestep actions that could be used by your insurer to harm your interests. Should your claim be denied, Leventhal Lewis is prepared to evaluate whether litigation is appropriate.

More about the Leventhal Lewis team

Leventhal Lewis is organized to maintain the expertise of niche small firms with the strength and backing provided by large firms. Because of the firm’s structure, you gain the best of both worlds: experience, focus, depth, and procedural acuity.

If you have been impacted by fire in Colorado, and if your insurer is balking at living up to its obligations, you owe it to yourself to review your case before you proceed. Call Leventhal Lewis at its Denver office: 720-699-3000 or Colorado Springs office: 719-694-3000 or fill out the form below to request a consultation about your circumstances.

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