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Steps to take after a denied property damage claim

You file a claim with your insurance company after a storm blows a tree onto your roof. You’ve been a customer for years without incident, and this is your first claim.

After a couple weeks, you get a letter telling you the claim has been denied, and that you are responsible for the damages. What do you do now?

Confirm your policy is up to date

The first thing you need to do is double-check your policy. Make sure the last payment was on time, and there hasn’t been a lapse in your coverage. No claim can be contested if you have let your policy lapse, so this is the most important step. Determine if your insurance policy is up-to-date and in good standing.

Compare the denial letter to your policy

The claim denial letter will specifically outline why they denied your claim. Try to match up this denial with your policy. Check to see if the specific condition is clearly described in exceptions, or whether the policy fails to mention it.

If your denial letter isn’t specific, talk to the adjuster. Ask them for a clear reason for the claim denial, and to provide documentation listing the exact reasons for denying your claim. Don’t let them give you a vague reason for denying your claim.

Document all communication and damages

Save all written communication between yourself and the insurance company. This includes requests for specification or any official denials. These are important if you need to take the company to court. Don’t communicate with your insurance agency without written proof.

Thoroughly document the damage to your house. Keep all pictures, and any bid estimates around fixing the damages. Make sure to track the time you spend dealing with contractors, repair companies and the insurance company itself.

Plan your next step

At this point, you have a clearer idea of whether your insurance company had a reason to deny your claim. If you feel your claim is valid, you can contest the denial. The first step is contacting an attorney with experience in insurance law. They can help you move forward with defending your claim.

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