How to Ensure You Receive Appropriate Value from Your Home Insurance

As Americans on the east coast brace themselves for the full impact of Hurricane Sandy, homeowners and insurance providers are preparing to deal with the expected damages.  But there are legal experts who believe that insurance companies may not provide adequate coverage and support in the aftermath of the natural disaster.  Joseph Zevuloni, President and CEO Zevuloni & Associates, based in Florida, claims insurance carriers take advantage of the average homeowner who may not understand what he/she is entitled to in damages.

“By the time they find out, the insurance company may say that they waited too long, never reported it, that they don't deserve it or it is not included in their policy.”

As a result, groups such as Zevuloni’s are preparing to help homeowners receive the compensation they deserve while encouraging others to understand what their policies entitle them to before an event as severe as Sandy hits.

Before filing a claim, it is best to review your policy to understand exactly what it covers.  Zevuloni says the language in home insurance policies is deliberately complicated to confuse the average homeowner, so he recommends having a legal expert review the policy with you.  This way if you require home improvements to receive full coverage, you have foreknowledge of these requirements, and can negotiate with your provider to have that work compensated.

It is recommended that photos be taken before a storm hits, and then shortly after to document proof of the damage.  Zevuloni says minor repairs such as broken windows or a leaking roof should be submitted for claim immediately so insurance companies can’t dismiss some damages as the homeowner waiting too long for claims.  He also says not to give up on a claim because of an initial rejection by an insurance agent or provider, especially regarding mold damage.

“If the mold was caused by a water leak or water damage, it may be covered.”

Above all, Zevuloni and some of his colleagues encourage homeowners to prepare for a fight.  Payouts may be lower than you were expecting, and you may want to challenge the validity of that amount in court.  You may be worried your insurer will drop you as a client if you challenge them, but Zevuloni says unless you are considered a risk for “storing propane tanks in the house or you have exposed wiring”, they will not drop you for standing up to them.