After a natural calamity like a wildfire, hurricane, or earthquake, the last thing someone wants to think about is all they have lost. After the initial shock, however, and making sure that everyone is alright after the tragic events, one must take stock of the damage in order to get on with their lives. To help Californians after such events, experienced lawyer Greg Kirakosian has provided these helpful tips for homeowners to go about starting to rebuild their lives and homes, and dealing with insurance companies in the aftermath.
Recently featured on KTLA 5 Morning News, Greg Kirakosian is an experienced Homeowners Insurance and Civil rights lawyer in Los Angeles. Here is what he advises you should do to prepare before you have an incident, and what to do right after to make sure you get the best outcome:
- Know what your policy covers
One of the most frequent ways that people are taken advantage of by insurance companies is with the initial policy itself. The Declaration page is extremely important. Read the fine print on the policy you buy to make sure that you know exactly what is covered. Even policies that advertise “Full” or “Comprehensive” coverage may not actually provide the coverage you expect them to. The best thing to do would be to call a lawyer and go over the document with them so that you understand what the policy covers, and if you need more. They will also advise you on the riders you can get, to extend coverage in case of incomplete coverage.
- Document. Document. Document.
Remember, the insurance company is NOT on your side. It is in their best interests to make sure that they give you as little as possible so as to maintain their bottom line. Therefore, document every single thing you buy, repair, or do. Bought an expensive fridge? Take a picture, keep the bill. Installed a new furnace or repaired the old one? Document. Had a leak and some mold, and got it repaired? Take notes! Having good documentation is your best defense against insurance companies trying to lowball you and gives your lawyer adequate ammunition should you need to get them involved.
- Take a picture of everything in your house!
Ideally, you’d document everything in your house, and one of the easiest ways to do so is through pictures. Take a photo or video of everything in your house. When you have a spare few minutes, just walk through your house capturing all your possessions in a single video. You’d be surprised how much information you can record, and how useful it can be to your lawyer later when dealing with the insurance company.
- Talk to a lawyer!
Insurance companies make their money on lowballing people, hoping that the majority of them will be happy enough with a quick check rather than take the time to scrutinize the payout to see if they can get more. Their hope is that you won’t challenge them too much on it, and in the event you do, that you don’t have the experience to do so effectively. A lawyer, however, does. Sometimes, they can raise the original offer from the insurance company by twice or even more, depending on the extent of coverage. This is more than enough to offset their fees, meaning you end up much better off at the end.
- Make regular policy reviews
Your initial insurance policy you purchased several years ago may have been adequate at the time, but has it kept up with your lifestyle over the years? When the value of your house and possessions increase over time, you should take that into account in your insurance policies. Sometimes, switching providers can also give you better rates. Making regular policy reviews will make sure that you always have the best deal possible, and are adequately covered.
These tips for Home Insurance from Greg Kirakosian, an experienced lawyer and will hold you in good stead throughout the years. Read it and your insurance coverage declaration letter carefully, and call your lawyer if you have any questions. They will be able to walk you through it quickly and properly, eradicating any doubts you may have and equipping you to better deal with your insurance in the future.
These blogs are meant purely for educational purposes. They contain only general information about legal matters. They are not legal advice, and should not be treated as such. If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should consult with an attorney.