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Do you need to file suit over an insurance claim?

The recent devastating hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria cut a wide swath of destruction in the United States and the Caribbean Islands. As we head into the final months of the 2017 hurricane season, it's a good idea for consumers everywhere to review their homeowner's insurance policy to see if they need to increase coverage or add riders.

While Kentucky residents typically don't have to worry about threats from hurricanes, when Category 4 and 5 storms slam onto the coastline, the remnants of these devastating weather events can still wreak havoc as they move over land before dissipating.

Some homeowners don't realize that many claims are paid out in a series of checks after the damage is inspected and documented. One reason for this is that all damage may not be immediately visible or able to be determined. For instance, if a storm uproots a tree that falls onto the house and damages the roof, the homeowners may not realize that the roots also dislodged the home's septic system.

Even so, most disaster claims must be filed within a year of the damage from the event. Otherwise, your claim may proscribe and you will not be compensated. When a home receives structural damage as well as damage to its contents, insurers typically issue separate checks for each damage category.

Uninhabitable homes may qualify the residents for coverage of additional living expenses (ALE) incurred during the repairs. When the damage is derived from a flood, residents may also receive another check from the company that insured them against floods.

Learning how the claims process works can help homeowners stay informed about their situations and reduce frustration. Also, if there is a problem, savvy homeowners can determine whether they need to seek legal counsel and file suit to be compensated fairly for their losses and in a timely manner.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, "Understanding the insurance claims payment process," accessed Sep. 22, 2017

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