Mansell, Engel & Cole

Why did my homeowner's insurer deny my claim?

In the early weeks of tornado season, you may have been among those unfortunate homeowners who saw recent storms passing through your neighborhood. Like many in Oklahoma, you know how dangerous and destructive these storms can be, and you have done the right thing by preparing for the worst and purchasing homeowner's insurance to cover any damage your home might incur.

If the recent storms left your home damaged, you are depending on your insurer to come through with a reasonable response to your claim. You may have been shocked to receive a denial of your claim. It is possible that the denial is in bad faith, but before concluding this, you may want to understand the most common reasons why insurers reject the claims of homeowners.

What's in your policy?

You may pay your premiums on time, but do you know what those premiums cover? Perhaps the most common mistake policyholders make is to neglect to read their policies and understand what the insurer will pay for. Most policies have standard coverage, for example if your home catches fire or is struck by lightning. However, if your home floods, is leveled by a tornado or sustains damage in an earthquake, your policy may not cover this unless you have purchased specific add-ons for these possibilities.

Additionally, your policy may have exclusions, which means it won't ever cover damage from certain circumstances. Common exclusions are damage resulting from war, normal wear and tear, or the destructive actions of birds or insects. Your insurer may have an exclusion for hail or wind damage. If so, they will deny your claim for any damage such a storm may cause.

Other reasons for denial

Besides the actual language in your policy, there may be more basic reasons for the denial of your claim for coverage, for example:

  • You waited too long after the damage before filing your claim.
  • You have not met your deductible, and the damage will not exceed that amount.
  • You have not kept up with your insurance premiums.
  • You did not accurately describe the cause of the damage.
  • The insurer believes you intentionally lied about the extent of the damage.

This final point may have serious ramifications, especially if the insurer accuses you of fraud. Such charges could result in fines or even prison. However, if you are certain that your claim is accurate, your homeowner's policy covers your damage and your premiums are up-to-date, you may conclude that the insurer has wrongly denied you the coverage you need. Seeking an evaluation of your case by a legal professional may help you meet your goals for repairing the damage and bringing your home back to its livable condition.

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