Q). I had a fire. What am I supposed to do first?
A). Your insurance policy has conditions that you must fulfill in the event you have a loss. Some of these conditions require you to provide immediate notice of the loss to your insurance company, take steps to protect the property from further damage and provide certain information to the insurance company. You also are required to submit to the insurance company proof of the amount of your loss. Your policy will set forth your duties in the event of loss.
Q). The insurance company has hired a fire investigator. Do I need to hire my own?
A). Under certain circumstances, it is absolutely crucial that you conduct your own investigation into the origin and cause of the fire. This can be accomplished by retaining legal experts experienced in coordinating origin and cause investigations.
Q). The insurance company has requested that I submit to an examination under oath. Do I have to go?
A). Insurance policies permit insurance companies to take your examination under oath, which is usually conducted by an insurance company lawyer who will likely ask you question over the course of several hours in the presence of a court reporter. If you don’t go, or fail to produce requested documents, the insurance company will likely deny your claim. If you are requested to attend an examination under oath, it is in your best interest to retain an attorney who can properly prepare you and attend the examination under oath with you.
Q). The insurance company has requested documents, including my tax return. Do I have to provide these?
A). Typically, yes. Under the insurance policy and Michigan law, a willful failure to provide requested documents could be used as a reason to deny your claim.
Q). A public adjuster has contacted me. Why do I need a public adjuster? Can’t I rely on the insurance company’s adjuster to calculate my claim?
A). It is your responsibility to properly document your claim, and NOT the responsibility of the insurance company. Therefore, it is important that you consider hiring a public adjuster, who is an expert in the evaluation and documentation of property damage claims, to better ensure that your claim is accurately and properly presented, and that you receive full value for your damaged property or other insured loss. The insurance company has an adjuster, and so should you.
Q). I have replacement cost coverage on my contents, but my insurance company only paid me actual cash value? Why?
A). Under most insurance policies, an insurance company is entitled to withhold depreciation from the replacement cost damages. This is called the “actual cash value” of the loss. Replacement cost will only paid if the damaged or destroyed item is actually repaired or replaced. Once the item is replaced, the insurance company will then pay the difference between replacement cost and actual cash value.
Q). I have suffered a fire and there have been injuries and/or death as a result. What should I do?
A). Time is of the essence. Legal counsel should be retained immediately to ensure that the proper steps are taken to protect and preserve important evidence that may establish the cause of the fire or explosion and the individuals or product manufacturers who may be responsible. In addition, counsel will be able to retain the necessary experts to start an origin and cause investigation.
Q). My insurance agent made a mistake with my insurance policy. Can I sue?
A). Yes. Under certain circumstances, your insurance agent may be legally responsible for failing to properly procure and place coverage. In certain situations, they can be held responsible for failing to obtain adequate coverage.