Property Damage & Homeowners Insurance Claims
In Wisconsin, you are not required by law to carry homeowner’s insurance. If your home currently has a mortgage, your lender can require you to carry this type of coverage until the mortgage is paid off. Whether your home is currently being financed or not, having homeowners insurance is generally a good idea – if your property is damaged in an accident, you can seek compensation for your losses through a homeowners insurance claim. Your home is likely your most valuable asset – a natural disaster or an accident can potentially leave you hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and homeless if you do not have a homeowners insurance policy.
Filing a property damage claim is not the same as filing a personal injury claim after an accident. Unlike a personal injury claim, which requires a claimant to provide evidence showing that another party’s negligence caused him or her to suffer an injury, a homeowners insurance claim does not require a claimant to demonstrate that another party was at fault. With a personal injury claim, the victim files his or her claim with the negligent party’s insurance provider, whereas with a homeowners insurance claim, he or she files it with his or her own insurance provider. This does not mean that negligence and the concept of “reasonable care” are not factors considered in property damage claims. They are, but their roles in this type of claim are fairly different than they are with other types of insurance claims.
Examples of Claims for Property Damage in Wisconsin
There are many different types of accidents and disasters that can damage your property and qualify you for a property insurance claim. These include:
- Collisions with motor vehicles
- Water leaks
- Lightning strikes
- Damage from fallen tree limbs
- Vandalism and theft
Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim
After the accident, contact your homeowners insurance provider as soon as possible to notify them about what happened. This starts the claims process. You will need to provide a large, detailed body of information to your insurance provider. Your lawyer can help you gather and use this information effectively.
During your initial interaction with the insurance provider, you will need to provide the following information:
- Your address
- The type of accident that occurred
- Your name and policy number
- Details about the damage to the property
You must mitigate any further damage to the property or injuries to others, which means you will have to secure the property. You could have to evacuate the property, remove valuable items and find ways to prevent issues like leaks from becoming worse.
Your insurance provider will then send an adjuster to the property to evaluate the damage. Like with a personal injury claim, the adjuster will give you a lowball offer. This is why you should work with a professional of your own, such as a public adjuster or a property damage lawyer. This individual can negotiate with the company’s adjuster to help you settle on an appropriate compensation amount for your damages. Do not make any repairs to the home until you have reached a settlement with your insurance provider.
Negligence and Reasonable Care
Your homeowner’s insurance provider can reject your claim if it determines that you did not take reasonable care – in other words, that you were negligent – to mitigate the damage to your property. A homeowner who does not take reasonable care, which is defined as taking the action that a homeowner would reasonably be expected to take after an accident, may be deemed to be negligent and even have his or her policy canceled as a result.
Examples of homeowner negligence include:
- Not investigating suspicious leaks, cracks or discoloration in the home
- Failing to cut back trees that are in danger of falling onto a portion of the home or property beneath, such as a parked vehicle
- Failing to properly winterize plumbing pipes in a home
Work with an Experienced Appleton Personal Injury Lawyer
If your home was damaged in an accident, you could be entitled to recover compensation for your resulting damages through a homeowners insurance claim. This can be true even if the accident was partly due to your own negligence. To learn more about filing this type of claim in Wisconsin and seeking compensation for your damages, contact our team of experienced Appleton disability claims attorneys at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC. Contact our team online or call 920-202-8872 today to set up your initial consultation with a member of our firm.