Is your hurricane claim being adjusted promptly, fairly, and equitably? I’ve heard many stories of policyholders that have still not seen an adjuster following Hurricane Sally, and Hurricane Zeta just brought more winds and rain to already damaged properties. It’s important to know the requirements Alabama insurance companies have for the adjustment of your hurricane claim.

While Alabama has not adopted the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, the Alabama Department of Insurance has outlined standards for the prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of property claims.

Ala. Admin. Code. R. 482-1-125-.07 provides:

  1. Within thirty (30) days, or the number of days specified in the policy, after receipt by the insurer of properly executed proofs of loss, the insured shall be advised of the status of acceptance or denial of the claim by the carrier.
  2. No insurer shall deny a first party claim on the grounds of a specific policy provision, condition, or exclusion unless reference to such provision, condition or exclusion is included in the denial.
  3. The denial may be given to the insured in writing, verbally or electronically (e-mail). If verbal, the file should clearly indicate the denial and reasons for the denial. If the denial is in writing or e-mail, the file should contain a copy of the denial letter or e-mail. If after the claim is denied, the insured requests a written denial, a written denial shall be mailed within a reasonable time.
  4. If the insurer needs more time to determine whether a claim should be accepted or denied, it shall notify the insured within thirty (30) days or the time period specified in the policy after receipt of the proofs of loss, giving the reasons more time is needed.
  5. If the investigation remains incomplete, the insurer shall, forty-five (45) days from the initial notification and every forty-five (45) days thereafter, notify the insured in writing, verbally or electronically (e-mail) of the reasons additional time is needed for investigation.
  6. The insurer must tender payment within thirty (30) days or the time specified in the policy, after accepting liability, reaching an agreement on the amount of the claim and receipt of any documents necessary to consummate the settlement.

If your claim is not being handled promptly, fairly, and equitably, you have options. You can file a complaint with the Alabama Department of Insurance, or you can contact Merlin Law Group to discuss your situation with an attorney.

In Part 2 of this series I’ll address the insurance company’s obligations with respect to prompt communication with the policyholder.