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Six things to know when you're making an insurance claim in Washington Avoid some common mistakes

Written by Plaintiff Litigation Group PLLC

The insurance claim process can be intimidating, and unfortunately for many people it’s "learn as you go," with mistakes along the way. This information is an effort to help you, an insurance claimant, protect yourself and avoid making a mistake that will jeopardize your claim.

We're the Plaintiff Litigation Group—a Seattle law firm devoted to representing policyholders in all kinds of claims involving insurance.

No. 1. Don't waste time.

Call your insurance company as soon as you think you might have an insurance claim. If you don’t know the number, call and ask your insurance agent or broker. If you might be covered under someone else’s insurance, then ask for the insurance information and make sure that a claim is being made. Examples of when you might be covered by someone else’s insurance include when damage occurs to a condo unit (in which case you should ask your condo association, condo board, or condo manager), when you have an accident in a company vehicle, or when you might be covered under your parent’s insurance. Whatever you do, don’t let time pass. Insurance policies generally require you to report the claim as soon as possible.

No. 2. Make it clear that you're making a claim.

You're not legally required to use magic words, such as, “I’m making a claim.” But insurance companies sometimes try to get away with pretending that they didn’t know that you wanted the insurance company to open a claim and investigate. Sometimes they’ll try to hint that making a claim will increase your premiums and then give you time to think about it. Just cut to the chase: You’re making a claim, and you expect the insurance company to pay the benefits to which you’re entitled.

No. 3. Keep all the claim information organized.

It’s easy to lose grasp of all that is going on with your claim. Start a folder. Print out these tips and keep them with all of the materials relating to the claim, including:

  • The declarations page for your policy;
  • The insurance policy;
  • The contact information for your adjuster;
  • The contact information for all other people working on the claim, including any experts and contractors;
  • All estimates provided to you; and
  • A timeline of events relating to the claim.

No. 4. Follow up and ask questions.

Many times people are afraid of annoying the adjuster with too many questions. Banish such thoughts from your head. If you have a question, send your adjuster an email or give them a phone call, followed up with written confirmation of the call. It’s fine to be nice, but don’t put anything in your communications that suggests that you are satisfied with the process when in fact you might not be. Your words can and will be used against you later , possibly in court.

No. 5. Be as clear as possible and don’t give the insurance company a chance to call you a liar.

From reading the news it sometimes feels like some of the most successful businesses, businesspersons, and even political leaders fudge the truth on a daily basis. It may seem that this is how business is done. That may be the case for them (although it shouldn’t be), but it’s different for regular people. The insurance industry has set up a process in which even a tiny misstatement by someone making a claim can jeopardize the right to receive even a single dollar in benefits. When communicating with insurance companies, be aware that they will scour your emails and documents for anything they can call a “misrepresentation” if there is a dispute. Be careful and clear at all times.

No. 6. Be aware of limitations periods.

Insurance policies usually require you to bring a lawsuit within one or two years after the “loss”—which is another word for the event that caused the damage or the need for benefits. Read your policy and ask your adjuster. And don’t wait until you get close to the deadline to reach out to a lawyer. If you believe your claim might be going south, get in touch with an attorney who knows the ins and outs of insurance bad-faith law and the Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA) as soon as possible.

Thank you for reading. We hope this helps you. If you'd like a consultation with our team, call 206-203-9100, email info@plaintifflit.com, or click the button below.

Created By
Isaac Ruiz
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Created with images by qimono - "house building home" • paulbr75 - "house fire home fire" • MichaelGaida - "auto accident vehicle" • Adam Tinworth - "untitled image"

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