Consumers buy fire and property insurance (also known as homeowners' insurance) to protect their home and belongings in case of fire, break-in, weather damage, or other tragedy. Every year, homeowners pay their insurance premiums for the increased peace of mind they obtain from knowing that, in case the unthinkable happens, your insurance company will live up to their promise and take care of you and your family. Unfortunately, many insurance companies are looking out for their own financial bottom line, not your family's well being. When an insurance company chooses its profits over the promises they have made to you and your family, the insurance company has acted in bad faith. The lawyers at our Colorado firm help victims with bad faith insurance claims. The lawyers at Bachus & Schanker, LLC will review your case and work with you to protect your rights.
In Colorado and other states, it has been alleged that some homeowners' insurance companies may act in bad faith and actually under-insure homes. If your home burns down, you need to make sure you have enough insurance to rebuild your home from the ground up, using similar materials. This "replacement cost" may be very different from the market value or the assessed value of your home. Despite the potentially huge difference between "market value" and "replacement cost," some insurance companies use an assessed or market value to determine how much insurance they sell you, instead of an actual replacement value (or cost to rebuild). This difference can be devastating and can result in you having less than one half of the money you may need to rebuild if your home is destroyed by fire or other disaster.
The fact is that many insurance companies just want your business, and they know that the way to get business is to offer you the lowest cost to purchase insurance. Since most houses never burn down, the insurance carrier is willing to risk underinsuring homes so that they get the most customers. But you have a right to be properly insured when you go to an insurance company and request full coverage. The Insurance Bad Faith lawyers at our Colorado firm can assist consumers throughout the country involved in insurance disputes.
Insurance Bad Faith: KW's Story
KW's story is an example of our firm's success in handling Insurance Bad Faith claims. Our lawyers take on large companies in Colorado and across the nation. We will put our resources and experience to work for you.
In February 2001, Bachus & Schanker, LLC client, KW's, home burned to the ground. KW, a 71-year-old quadriplegic, had previously had custom modifications installed in her home to make it more accessible for her special needs. She had heated floors to make sure her lower body stayed warm; special buttons to open and close windows and blinds; a specially designed kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom; and many other items. She even had a wheelchair-accessible deck built around the entire outside of her home so she could spend time outside. These small luxuries were important because KW's severe physical limitations prevented her from leaving her home but for a few times each year.
Prior to the February 2001 fire that destroyed her home, KW called her State Farm agent to come and appraise her home to make sure she was fully insured in case something awful happened. Her agent assured her that she was "adequately insured." Unfortunately, KW's insurance agent did not account for all of the custom features in KW's home, and when her home was completely destroyed by a fire, State Farm told KW that she did not have enough insurance to replace her home or its contents. In fact, KW was...
essentially insured for only about half of the amount it was going to cost to replace her home and belongings. After a long and fierce battle, the team of experienced Insurance Bad Faith lawyers at Bachus & Schanker, LLC, was able to help KW resolve this dispute with State Farm. The insurer eventually agreed to pay KW $3.75 million to settle the claim.
Most of the time, insurance companies fight to keep these kinds of settlements and claims secret so that consumers and individuals can't find out the real facts and information they need to protect themselves. In KW's case, she fought to keep the details of the case public so that others could protect themselves before such a tragedy occurs.
This is just one example of how the experienced team of Colorado bad faith insurance lawyers at Bachus & Schanker, LLC has helped our clients achieve justice. The attorneys at Bachus & Schanker, LLC have a strong record of standing up to insurance companies and making them live up to their promises. From unpaid and undervalued fire claims to denial of homeowners' coverage, the knowledgeable attorneys and staff at Bachus & Schanker, LLC will go through every document, and obtain sworn statements under oath (depositions) of every agent, adjuster, claims manager, and employee or representative of your insurance company to ensure that you have been treated fairly.
Tips for Making Sure Your Home is Adequately Insured
1. By putting their business interests over your family's needs, the insurance company may end up appraising your home based on its market value or tax-assessed value. When applying for homeowners' insurance, ask the insurance company to appraise your home based on the actual cost to rebuild and not your home's market value or tax assessed value. If the insurance company refuses, then look to a different company who will.
2. Ask your insurance company if they provide a "rebuilding" homeowners' insurance policy. In other words, does your insurance company provide a policy that will allow you to rebuild your exact house regardless of the cost to rebuild? (Most insurance companies just provide a certain amount of insurance for a home, and that is all the insurance money available, regardless of whether that amount will actually pay to completely rebuild or not). You may have to pay higher premiums to properly insure your home, but it is the only way to have peace of mind in the event of fire or other disaster.
3. Keep accurate records or an inventory list of all of your personal possessions. On a regular basis, update these records and keep them in a safe place away from your home. If possible, take photographs or video of your possessions. These records will help you make your claims for personal property insurance...
Also consider the following:
Keep sales receipts and attach them to your personal property inventory list.
Keep a list of serial numbers that may be on your items
Consider engraving your own serial number or identification number into items that are of value
Consider professional appraisals on a regular basis of any valuable personal possessions such as art or jewelry
Steps to Filing a Claim for Homeowners' Insurance
If a tragedy happens and you lose your home and/or personal belongings in a fire, break-in, weather event or other tragedy, follow these tips for setting up a claim with your insurance company:
1. Notify your insurance company. Call your insurance company right away, and let them know about any damage for which you may need to file a claim. Keep track of all communication between you and your insurance company for future reference regarding your claim.
2. Evaluate your property damage. Use a camera or video camera if possible to record damages and losses to your home and property. If not possible, be sure to provide detailed written explanations of exactly what is lost. Where possible, gather any receipts or other written documentation regarding the loss.
3. Make a list of any missing or completely destroyed items. Start going room by room and listing each and every thing that has been destroyed or is missing. Provide as much detail and information about each item as you can, such as color, size, make and model of the item, and where and when purchased. If you have replacement cost coverage on your policy, these items may be replaced as new instead of the current value of your used product.