Homeowners' Insurance Claims
Homeowners’ liability insurance is supposed to protect a homeowner not only from loss of property but also from personal injury lawsuits that happen on the premises or in connection with them. For example, if somebody gets injured on your property and decides to sue you for damages, you are supposed to tender this claim to your homeowners' insurance provider, which should step in to cover the costs. The policies can provide anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million in liability coverage. If your homeowners' insurance claim is not handled fairly, however, you may need the help of an experienced Rhode Island homeowners’ insurance lawyer. At Bilodeau Capalbo, we assist clients in Rhode Island and many areas of Connecticut with these claims.Understanding the Nuances of Homeowners' Insurance Claims
Homeowners' insurance policies generally cover property damage and liability when a person is injured due to negligence. For example, if an electrical fire starts due to faulty wiring, and your home is partially burned down, your homeowners' insurance may cover the damages. It may also cover damage caused by hail, lightning, vandalism, or a windstorm. Often, there are flood and earthquake exclusions, although there may be optional coverage that covers other hazards and risks.
When a lawsuit is brought against you for personal injuries arising from real estate that you own or somehow connected to it, your homeowners' insurance policy should usually protect you. The first type of protection is paying an attorney to defend you in the lawsuit. The other type of protection is paying the damages that are owed in order to protect you from personal liability for them. In some cases, an insurer argues that the policy does not have coverage for the plaintiff's claims. This is common; most policies are drafted with lots of exclusions. Our homeowners’ insurance attorneys can help Rhode Island residents review their policy and determine which exclusions may apply.
For example, there may be an exclusion for an intentional tort. When it is determined by a court that the policyholder intentionally battered somebody, the policy will not pay the policyholder’s damages. However, the other protection may still apply because an insurer has a duty to defend if there is even a chance that a lawsuit filed against you could fall within the coverage that you purchased. Thus, if a plaintiff sues you and alleges both intentional battery and negligence, the insurer should still defend because negligence is covered by nearly all homeowners' insurance policies.
The damages, however, may only be paid in connection with a negligence claim. For example, if you forgot to repair your balcony, and a guest fell off it, or your dog bit your guest, the liability portion of your homeowners' insurance should cover the guest's damages.
Generally, if somebody is injured on your property, you are supposed to let the insurer know so that the insurer has a chance to investigate and provide the strongest possible defense. You should also let the insurer know if a gun that is usually kept in your home injures somebody, or if your dog breaks free from the yard and injures somebody. As our Rhode Island homeowners’ insurance attorneys can explain, homeowners' insurance may cover incidents that do not take place directly within the home but are related to homeownership.
An insurance policy is a contract. Generally, a homeowner keeps their part of the bargain by making timely premium payments. However, in some cases, an insurer puts profits ahead of a policyholder or covered person. The insurer owes a duty to process the claim in good faith, whether it is a first-party claim for property damage or a third-party claim for damages arising out of your negligence. An insurer that does not process the claim in good faith can be held liable for bad faith.
Insurance bad faith can occur in many different ways. For example, if your insurer tries to pay you less than what the property that was damaged was worth in a first-party claim, this may be actionable. Similarly, an insurer that denies that there is a duty to defend when a third-party claim is brought against you, and there is a chance that the claim could fall within the coverage that you bought, may be liable for bad faith. For another example, an insurer that fails to respond to your claim, refuses to disclose information, or misrepresents policy terms may be liable for bad faith.Consult an Experienced Homeowners’ Insurance Lawyer in Rhode Island
If you are concerned about how an insurer is handling a first-party or third-party insurance claim, it is important to consult an insurance attorney. At Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC, we maintain close and trusting relationships with our clients, and we have a carefully maintained reputation for client satisfaction. Our firm also represents clients in Connecticut. We have offices in West Warwick, Westerly, and Hartford. Call us at (401) 300-4055 or contact us through our online form.