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Bellevue Washington Insurance Law Blog

Will my homeowners’ insurance cover flooding?

Depending on where you live in Washington, you may worry about your home being destroyed by flooding, as well as whether your insurance will cover flood-related damages. There are many misconceptions related to this complicated area of insurance, as well as what exactly constitutes flooding damage, versus ordinary water damage.

If you only have regular homeowners’ insurance but you live in an area prone to flooding, you may want to take note of the following points, as explained by Bankrate:

  • Not all water damage is equal. Water damage from rain or hail is typically covered by homeowners’ insurance, but riverbank and ocean floods are different.
  • You may be required by your mortgage company to purchase flood insurance if you live in a flood plain.
  • Flood insurance usually tops out around $250,000, so your damages might not be entirely covered in a severe flood.
  • Flood zones can change with the climate and the environment, so it is wise to stay updated on your local flood plains.

Contractors and denied insurance claims

Contractors often run into many challenges, whether they encounter issues related to a particular construction project, the local economy or the workers they employ. However, unexpected problems can arise, such as a workplace injury, a motor vehicle collision, an extreme weather event or some other serious issue. To make matters worse, some contractors may find themselves in a particularly difficult position when they discover that their insurance company is refusing to help out and that their claim has been denied. This can be very upsetting and may lead to various hardships which could even force a contractor to shut their business down if the matter is not handled properly.

Whether an auto insurance company has denied a claim following an accident that they should have covered, or a contractor is struggling because their general liability carrier has decided to deny their claim, there are many different types of insurance that contractors may have and various challenges can arise when these insurance companies do not live up to their end of the bargain. If you are struggling with this, it is pivotal to do everything you can to have your insurance company held accountable. There may be legal options available to you which could dramatically improve your outlook on business and your financial affairs.

Is your dog endangering your home insurance?

When you brought home your new dog, the possibility of the pup affecting your home insurance was probably the last thing on your mind. You and other Washington residents may be surprised to learn that many insurance companies blacklist some dog breeds, and if you have a dog that is on one of these restricted lists, it could cause your home insurance to be dropped.

Why is this so, you may wonder? You may find it especially unfair if your dog has never shown any signs of aggression. Unfortunately, many insurance companies do not feel the same way. Liability for injuries resulting from pet attacks usually falls to the pet owner’s insurance company. For example, if your friend is over for dinner and Fido feels threatened and bites, your homeowners’ insurance is likely to be held responsible for paying the medical bill.

Limits on the duty to defend

When you obtain an insurance policy with a company in Washington, you enter into a contract with your insurer. Your insurer then has a responsibility to fulfill three duties, one of which is the duty to defend. In other words, if someone else brings a lawsuit against you for damages covered by your insurance policy, your insurer has a responsibility to cover the costs of your legal expenses. However, the duty to defend is not all-encompassing. We at LePley Law Firm believe that it is important for you to understand the limits on your insurer's duty to defend in order to ascertain whether your insurer has broken faith with you.

Insurance policies include exclusions as a matter of course. A good example is a homeowner's policy, which may cover the effects of an accident resulting from a maintenance issue such as a burst pipe, but not the cost to repair the pipe as its upkeep should have been part of your responsibility as a homeowner. 

How to handle your ERISA claim

Many private, non-government companies offer their employees health insurance coverage, as well as many other benefits, including life insurance, 401k, COBRA insurance, disability insurance, pensions and other retirement plans. If you are employed with such a company, you have rights when it comes to getting your insurance and benefits. The people who handle your health care insurance and benefits with the company are held to certain standards when offering these plans. These standards are listed in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and are otherwise referred to as ERISA.

ERISA requires qualified employers to keep accurate and detailed reporting of offered benefits and must report them to the federal government. Furthermore, the plan is required to provide disclosures to you and other employees, including information about the benefits that are offered, benefit limitations, guidelines to getting benefits and any special requirements needed to obtain benefit coverage. Under ERISA, companies must also have policies in place showing you how to file a claim, as well as how to start the appeals process if your claim is denied for any reason. All policies and funds should be maintained in the best interests of the workers.

Time is of the essence when it comes to your homeowners' claim

If you have recently sustained severe damage to your residential property, we at LePley Law Firm know that you may feel paralyzed, overwhelmed by the circumstance and unsure of what to do next. However, in order to have any hope of receiving compensation from your homeowners' insurance, you need to act quickly. Contacting your insurer and filing a claim should be one of the first tasks on your list of things to do following damage to or destruction of your home. This is because there are limitations on the time you have to do so after the event occurs.

Ironically, after all the effort you make to file a claim in a timely manner, your insurer may try to put you off by delaying payment of the claim. This is one of several ways that insurance companies may attempt to avoid compensating you. Other tactics include paying an inadequate amount on your claim, i.e., less than the cost of repair or replacement, or by unreasonably denying the claim.

3 things you need to know about home insurance

When a family in Washington buys a home and purchases home insurance to protect it, they should have peace of mind that the property is protected in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately, there are times when an insurance company may not pay, or a claim may be denied because of something the policy holder was unfamiliar with.

1. Home insurance comes in two parts

What does workers' compensation insurance cover?

As a Washington worker, the law likely requires your employer to have a workers’ compensation insurance policy in place. This means that if you get injured at work or suffer a work-related illness, your employer’s work comp carrier must pay for your associated medical and other expenses.

Insureon.com explains that, while work comp policies can differ in what they cover, in general you can be assured of having the following four things paid

  1. Your medical costs to treat your immediate injury or illness
  2. Your lost wages resulting from your injury or illness
  3. Your ongoing care necessitated by your injury or illness
  4. Your funeral costs if you die from your injury or illness

Does Washington state require PIP coverage?

Personal injury protection is coverage you can add to your regular car insurance policy to help pay for wage loss, medical and hospital expenses, loss of services and funeral expenses, all damages your typical insurance plan does not cover. If you pay for PIP, the law requires your insurance company to pay out your claim regardless of who was at fault for the accident. In a state like Washington, PIP is handy to have, especially if you cause an accident or if you sustain injuries in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist. That said, does the state require drivers to carry PIP? No, it does not.

Because Washington is a fault accident state, it does not require drivers to carry this heightened level of protection. However, according to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner Washington State, your insurance company must offer it to you. If you elect not to invest in PIP, you must reject the coverage in writing. If you fail to do so, your car insurance provider will add it to your policy and charge you for it.

The importance of managing an insurance dispute properly

When it comes to insurance disputes, every case is unique. These disputes arise for different reasons and the details surrounding a dispute vary from one case to the next. If you are in the middle of a dispute, or if you worry that one is around the corner, it is essential to identify the best course of action and take a stand for your legal rights. Insurance companies can be hard to work with and the outcome of such a case could have a significant impact on you from a financial standpoint and even an emotional point of view.

These disputes may involve auto insurance coverage, or they could relate to life insurance, homeowners insurance or property insurance, to name a few. Standing up to insurance companies can be incredibly difficult for many people, but you should not allow your rights to be trampled on if your insurance company is failing to live up to their obligations. Sometimes, legal action may be avoided by taking a firm stand when an insurance company denies that they are responsible for taking care of a claim. However, some insurance companies are unwilling to cooperate, even though they have an obligation to do so. In these instances, legal action may be necessary.