First, you need to be completely sure that your insurance company overpaid the cost of your claim. For instance, if you were in a car accident, speak with your mechanic to make sure that all necessary repairs have been made to your vehicle. It is possible that you were not overpaid.
If a natural disaster damaged your home, talk to your contractor about the possibility of future repairs that need to be made. After you have exhausted these options, you will need to contact your insurance company to notify them that the insurance check is more than the repairs.
How the Overpayment is Handled Depends on the Situation
In some situations, they may allow you to keep the funds if you incur other damages related to your claim. However, they may also ask you to fill out a form returning the excess money to their agency. How each insurance company handles overpayment varies on a case-by-case basis.
If the insurance check exceeds your repairs, keeping the extra money is not a wise option. You could be accused of insurance fraud if the insurance company later discovers the error without you notifying them. Better to err on the side of caution rather than face criminal charges.
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Insurance Adjusters Determine the Cost of Covered Losses
Whether your losses were incurred because of a collision, natural disaster, or another unforeseeable event, an insurance adjuster will evaluate your expenses by examining the property damage. Usually, the adjuster works for the insurance company.
Unfortunately, many of these adjusters have a reputation for purposefully undervaluing claims to save their organization money. They may employ tactics like:
- Pushing you to accept a settlement that does not meet your current or projected needs
- Asking you to record a statement about the incident, just so they can pick it apart and look for excuses to deny you money
- Contacting you before you have had a chance to process your losses or consult an attorney
- Claiming the damage existed before the incident or that you bear some measure of responsibility for the damage
This is why many claimants hire third-party adjusters to provide an unbiased opinion regarding the cost of the damages.
We are familiar with the tactics that insurance companies use to devalue claims, and we do not want you to leave money on the table or have your claim denied. A lawyer with our firm can ensure you do not fall victim to these tactics.
What does an Insurance Appraiser Do?
It is an insurance appraiser’s job to:
- Investigate all accidents or incidents that they are assigned to investigate
- Speak with all involved parties, including you and any eyewitnesses
- Assess the damage to your property by visiting the site, taking and reviewing photographs, and reviewing other relevant documentation
- Determining whether or not your claim aligns with your insurance policy
- Calculating how much to pay you for your damages
- Negotiating with you or your legal representative if you disagree with the offered settlement
You do not have to deal directly with the insurance appraiser yourself. In fact, because appraisers may try to underpay you, it is often safer to let a lawyer represent you in all communications and negotiations with the insurance company.
Your Check Should Cover All Your Losses
Afterward, if the insurance company accepts the adjuster’s verdict, they will issue a check designed to cover the cost of a claimant’s losses, as illustrated in their policy. It is imperative that you make sure that, before accepting a settlement, you are positive the amount of money you take covers your losses.
For example, if your home was damaged and you accepted a check for $5,000, only to find out from your contractor that you need additional repairs, it may be very difficult to pursue additional funds.
Can I Keep Recoverable Depreciation?
Recoverable depreciation is the difference between what your damaged property was worth just before the incident versus how much you had to pay to fix or replace the property. For example, if you recovered $10,000 for damage done to your house in a hurricane, but you had to pay $15,000 to actually fix the damage, recoverable depreciation would be $5,000.
Some insurance policies cover recoverable depreciation, while others do not. You can consult your policy and/or hire an attorney to help you better understand whether or not you can keep recoverable depreciation. In most cases, if the insurance check exceeds repair costs, you will need to return the extra money.
Can You Use Your Car Insurance for Repairs?
That depends on what type of policy you hold.
For example, Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) states that the only types of car insurance legally required of Florida drivers are personal injury protection (PIP), which covers your bodily injuries, and property damage liability (PDL), which covers the other party’s property damage, not your own.
If you only have these legally required policies, you could not use your own car insurance for repairs, though you could receive compensation for medical bills. If, however, you did purchase insurance to cover your own property damage in case of an accident, you could file a claim with your own insurer for car repairs.
Insurance May Not Cover Everything
Some policies will only pay for a certain percentage of your losses. For instance, PIP insurance pays up to eighty percent of your medical bills.
For damages not covered by insurance, you may be able to sue the party or parties who caused your crash.
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One of Our Lawyers Can Help with an Insurance Claim
Regardless of what you are filing, you may want to speak with a legal professional to make sure that you are informed of your legal rights throughout the claims process. A lawyer can comb through the fine print of your policy, represent you to the insurance company, and make sure you accept a settlement that completely covers your damages.
You would rather receive an insurance check that exceeds the cost of your repairs than accept a check that still leaves you with out-of-pocket expenses. However, if you know you were overpaid, you should contact the insurance company to let them know about it and find out what they want to do. You do not want to risk being accused of insurance fraud.
The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine Can Navigate the Claims Process
The claims process can prove to be a stressful experience. After a car accident or suffering damage to your property, you want a legal professional to guide you through these complicated proceedings. Whether you are negotiating with your Florida insurance company or need protection against bad faith insurance practices, the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine is at your service.
You may be injured from your accident, and we believe you should only have to worry about getting better. We take care of everything else. We can:
- File your claim on your behalf
- Collect any evidence needed
- Help you get a car fixed and schedule any appointments for you
- Give you your lawyer’s phone number so you can call with questions at any time
- Speak to all insurance company representatives on your behalf
- Negotiate a satisfactory settlement from your own or the liable party’s insurer
- Take your case to court, if recovering a fair settlement is not possible
We are here to shoulder the burden of managing the legal work. We can answer any questions you have and update you frequently.
Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation
You do not have to be alone in the claims process. We work on a contingency fee basis, so if you hire us, you pay us nothing upfront and out of pocket. We only get paid if you do, and our attorney’s fees come from your settlement or court award.
Our team offers responsive legal care. For a free case review, call us today. Members of our team are standing by to speak with you.
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