How can I collect from my insurance company when they won’t pay for weather-related damages?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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The short answer to your question is if your insurer is refusing to pay when you believe they should, you may need to sue them to force them to pay—though always be aware that there is never any guarantee you will win a lawsuit.

Insurance is a contract. Both parties are bound by its terms. This means that while insurers, for example, do not need to pay one cent more than the policy calls for, they must pay up to the policy limits, if the conditions that trigger payment are met. That means that the first and most important thing to do whenever there is an insurance claim or a dispute with an insurer is to read the policy—carefully.

You do not quote any language from your policy, so there’s no way to know for certain on what basis they are denying coverage. If the insurer is claiming that they do not need to pay because you “’should have taken weather conditions into account,” then it probably relates to some provision that the insurance company will not pay if the insured was negligent. You might at the outset start by asking them to point you to the precise language that they feel gives them the right to deny coverage—and if they can’t point to some specific language, then you might have a claim against them for bad faith dealing as well as to enforce the policy.

If there is some language that would at least arguably support their position, read it yourself—do you agree with their interpretation? If you do, there’s little point in going to the effort and expense of contesting it. However, if you disagree and feel they have to cover you, then the next step would be to consult with a lawyer; there are attorneys who specialize in holding insurers’ feet to the fire and holding them accountable. The lawyer can evaluate the policy and your case and advise you as to whether or not you have basis for a claim. If you do, the attorney can also advise you on how to pursue your claim—whether you should first use the insurer’s internal appeals or dispute process, or go directly to a legal action.

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