Salvageable vs Totaled property losses?

by Melanie
(California)

We had a flood that damaged a lot of personal property. During the unpacking process, a claims adjuster from our insurance company called to ask what was damaged. After speaking to him, he told me it was okay to toss everything and not keep it for inspection.

Now the insurance company is saying that the agent was from their totaled property division, not their salvageable property division (or vice versa), and we did not give them a right to inspect the property, so they are denying the claim. Can they do this? This seems like fraud or bad faith or something. What can I do? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Salvageable vs Totaled property losses?":

Melanie (California):

Whether or not "bad faith" exists will depend on whether the insurance company, through its adjusters and employees, acted purposely and maliciously to deny your rightful claim of recovery.

To be able to pursue a case of bad faith you will need an attorney. If the attorney can prove the insurance company acted in bad faith you may be entitled to "treble damages." Treble damages means the court can award you three times the amount of any judgment it might render against the insurance company.

Receipts for the damaged property will be invaluable in proving the amount of financial loss you sustained as result of the flood. If you don't have receipts, go to the store where you purchased the items and try to make of list of replacement costs.

Moreover, for the insurance company to maintain they are basing a denial of your claim on your failure to permit them access to your property, they will need proof of such failure. Hopefully, you didn't knowingly deny them access.

Time is always of the essence in bad faith insurance claims. Your attorney will be able to subpoena documents from the insurance company, take the depositions of persons within the company who made the decision to wrongfully deny your claim, and more.

Collect your policy and any letters you may have received from the insurance company related to your claim. Promptly make several appointments with various attorneys in your area.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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