My home was purchased 3 years ago for $39,900. It was damaged from a hail storm that happened over 2 months ago and my insurance company isn't paying up. I have an estimate to repair the house of $35,400. The city is going to condemn the house. If this happens does my insurance have to pay the house off?
I don't practice in Arkansas, so I am only giving general advice. You were unclear on what the $35,400 repair estimate was for. That was not all for hail damage, or was it?
To begin with, make sure you have a copy of the entire insurance policy (not just the declaration page). The policy will be around 20 to 40 pages long. You are going to have a number of insurance law issues that the policy language will help answer. First, does the policy obligate the company to pay "replacement cost" or just "actual cash value"? Then it sounds like you will have an issue of what damage was pre-existing and what damage was caused by the hail storm.
Here's what I would do. Go to a competitor insurance company's office and say that you have a claim not against their company, but against your own company. Ask for the name and number of the attorney their company uses to defend claims against their company. Call that attorney's office and again explain that you have a claim against your own company (not the company that the attorney represents). Ask if that office could refer you to an attorney who would represent plaintiffs against your insurance company. If that law firm doesn't help, then go to another insurance company and track down another law firm to ask. Eventually, you will get the name of someone who represents plaintiffs against property insurance companies.
You are going to have to come up with at least $2,000 to give the attorney as a retainer. However, you are just going to have to do it. Think of it as a choice between coughing up some money right now or losing the money in the end after your insurance company denies your claim. The amount of money you are talking about is not going to warrant going to trial, so just get an experienced, aggressive attorney and work out a settlement as soon as possible.
I'm curious what other attorneys reading your question suggest. Good luck.
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