The city told them to demolish their home. Afterwards, the insurance carrier wouldn’t cover it.
After hurricane flooding decimated Mr. and Mrs. K’s coastal home, their city told them it was unlivable and they had to demolish and start over. Mr. K is a handy guy. He thought he would tackle some of the rebuilding projects himself. Anything he couldn’t do, the Ks could subcontract out. Why not? It would save them and the insurance company time and money, right?
Well, not so fast…
The Ks used the insurance company’s initial payout to cover the cost of demolition and to get started rebuilding. As construction progressed, Mrs. K would periodically compile their receipts (labor, materials, supplies, subcontractors, etc.) and send copies off to the insurance company along with an update to their flood damage claim. She expected them to make good on it all.
Months dragged on.
Every time Mrs. K submitted claim updates, it seemed like she would have to go back and forth with the insurance company over the details of each and every receipt. Even then, their supplemental payout offers were sometimes far lower than what she had submitted and not nearly enough to cover the actual costs to rebuild.
Why were the offers so low? And why was it taking so long?
The insurance carrier hired not one, but two engineers to assess the K’s home. Both asserted there was no structural flood damage covered by the policy that would justify demolishing the house. So, the company only offered to pay for the cost of repairs to the house, not for rebuilding from scratch.
In addition, while the cost for much of the subcontracted work was covered, the payout offer often did not sufficiently cover the costs for Mr. K’s time, or the materials and supplies that he purchased to do the work himself. In other words, the insurance carrier was more willing to pay for the subcontractors’ labor and supplies than his own.
How we were able to help.
One of our insurance lawyers reviewed the K’s flood policy for a thorough understanding of the terms and conditions of their coverage. We then asked the Ks to send us any photos of the flooding and the damage that it caused. They asked around and found that one of their neighbors had taken actual video footage of the rushing flood waters on their street.
Even though the house had been demolished and physical evidence was no longer available, we were still able to use the neighbor’s video footage to prove that the flooding event had indeed been significant enough to cause serious damage, which did warrant an increase in payout.
Using our own experts and in-house knowledge, we were able to more fully flesh out the work Mr. K had done himself and back it up with their documentation so that we could recover more money for their claim. Finally, we were able to identify a number of pricing discrepancies between what the Ks had been offered for labor and materials compared to the fair market value he would have paid had he hired a contractor for the entire job.
In the end, McDonald Law Firm was able to increase the K’s insurance settlement by almost 60% over their original payout, allowing them to finish rebuilding their home and get their lives back on track.
- Document both the event and your damage as thoroughly as possible. Don’t rely on the adjuster to do it for you. There is no such thing as too many pictures and videos.
- Get estimates for both labor and materials from two to three contractors in writing, even if you could do some of the work yourself. You may find that there is no financial benefit to doing the work yourself.
- Check with your insurance carrier (and your lawyer) before you begin any major projects to be certain that the work you’ve planned is covered under the terms of your policy (even if it is required by your municipality).