Many homeowners in Mississippi experienced serious damage and losses from Hurricane Zeta. A critical part of putting the pieces back together after a natural disaster is the ability to rely on your property insurance to cover your damages. Unfortunately, many insurance companies engage in unfair or bad faith practices that leave property owners without the coverage they need and deserve.
Determining coverage for hurricane damage can be complicated. Following the mountain of claims after Hurricane Katrina, many property insurance companies began to require different types of coverage for windstorm damage, including separate deductibles for losses caused by wind and hail. Some companies even began to exclude coverage for damage caused by a “named storm.” Filing a claim is complicated and depends on the type of damage your home sustained. You might have multiple claims under one or more of the following insurance contracts:
- Homeowner’s insurance policy
- Windstorm insurance policy
- Flood insurance policy
Policyholders can experience problems with their insurance companies in the aftermath of a widespread disaster, but also when we file seemingly straightforward claims not stemming from hurricanes. To protect the rights of consumers, Mississippi law sets out certain rights of residential property insurance policyholders, in addition to those rights that are guaranteed with the terms of the insurance contracts. Those rights are set forth in the Mississippi Policyholder Bill of Rights, which by law is supposed to set forth in the text of each homeowner’s insurance policy sold in Mississippi. Additionally, there is an implied duty of good faith and fair dealing in every insurance contract.
If you believe that your policyholder rights are being violated or you are struggling with insurance claims following Hurricane Zeta, contact Christopher Van Cleave, an experienced Mississippi insurance claim attorney who will stand up for what you deserve.
Know Your Rights as a Policy Holder
- The Mississippi Legislature enacted the Mississippi Homeowner Insurance Policyholder Bill of Rights when it became clear that many homeowners did not understand their rights after Hurricane Katrina. The law provides that:
- We have the right to competitive insurance policy pricing and marketing techniques that allow us to determine what policy provides the best value.
- We have the right to advertising and other sales techniques that provide accurate and fair information regarding the benefits and limitations of an insurance policy.
- We have the right to be confident that our insurance company and the insurance market is financially stable.
- We have the right to quality service from competent and trustworthy people and providers, as well as the right to have our questions and concerns promptly addressed.
- We have the right to have a policy that is described in an easily readable format, to receive a complete policy, and to request a replacement or duplicate policy if we need to.
- We have the right to be confident that our insurance company is regulated to comply with Mississippi laws that require the economic delivery of coverage and loss prevention measures.
- We have the right to balanced and positive regulation by the Mississippi Department of Insurance.
- We have the right to request the license status of an insurance producer or company.
- We have the right to receive a detailed written explanation of why a policy was canceled or not renewed by the insurance company.
- We have the right to cancel our insurance coverage at any time and the right to receive a full refund of any unearned premium payments.
- We have the right to receive – in writing – notification and explanations of any policy changes that might impact your coverage at the time of policy renewal.
- We have the right to receive – in writing – a detailed explanation of any partial or complete claim denial.
- We have the right to access the reports prepared by our insurer during the investigation of, and used to make decisions related to, our claims. These can include adjuster reports, engineer or contractor reports, and other documents that are not privileged or associated with a possible fraud investigation.
- We have the right to have any decision regarding the denial or nonrenewal of a policy, or the adjustment of rates, not be based solely on the basis of our credit information. Companies must consider other factors in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Mississippi Insurance Regulations. We have the right to privacy regarding our personal financial information. Insurance companies, adjusters, agents, or other affiliated parties may not disclose our information to outside companies or institutions without authorization.
- We have the right to receive notice of policy nonrenewals at least 30 days prior to the nonrenewal date.
- We have the right to fair and honest treatment during the insurance claim process, and the right against deceptive practices by the insurance company.
- We have the right not to accept a settlement offer set forth by our insurance company. We are under no obligation to settle for a lower amount that does not cover our losses, and the right to file a lawsuit if needed to seek the full amount of our claim.
- We have the right to file a formal written complaint with the Mississippi Department of Insurance against our insurance company. The Department of Insurance should properly investigate and respond to our complaint.
Standing Up for Policyholder Rights
Insurance companies have a lot of power when it comes to providing or denying benefits or canceling coverage. This is why the law has so many rights and protections for consumers with insurance policies. Unfortunately, despite these clear regulations, many insurers continue to violate the rights of policyholders in many ways.
If you believe your insurer canceled your coverage, denied a claim, or took other action in violation of your policyholder rights, your first call should be to an experienced insurance claims attorney. We can assess the situation and determine the best course of action to help you obtain the coverage and benefits you deserve. This is especially important if you have claims stemming from Hurricane Zeta, as some insurers will likely be engaging in wrongful claim delays and denials.
Need Help with an Insurance Claim? Call Van Cleave Law
If you have filed or are considering filing an insurance claim related to Hurricane Zeta or another loss event, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney about your legal options. Insurance companies do everything they can to minimize payouts or deny claims outright, and the assistance of an experienced policyholder rights lawyer can ensure that you obtain the benefits to which you are legally entitled. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney, call Van Cleave Law today at (288) 432-7826, or contact us online.