In light of the recent and tragic tornadoes in Clarksville, we are rerunning this 2020 blog post for Tennessee policyholder awareness and education. The regulations cited have not changed, and there are no proposed changes on the horizon. Merlin Law Group attorneys, Etienne FontMatt Brown, and myself are all licensed in Tennessee. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for support, guidance, or answers to any questions. We are here for you: (877) 449-4700.

The tornado’s wrath may have subsided, but the fight for fair compensation can feel like a whole new storm. Denials, complex regulations, and insurance jargon stand between you and rebuilding your life. At Merlin Law Group, we understand the challenges you face.

Our dedicated team of insurance law experts has helped countless Tennesseans navigate the post-tornado maze, securing the resources they need to bounce back stronger. Merlin Law Group attorney Etienne Font lives in Tennessee. We understand the impact of tornado destruction, which has such little warning and is one of the most terrifying weather events for those in the path. We also know that sometimes, the aftermath is perilous, too. Let us help you navigate the cleanup and insurance recovery process.

Facing Claim Denial in Tennessee

The fallout after a tornado is already tough enough. Add a denied insurance claim to the mix, and it can devastate you all over again. But don’t let that be the end of the story. Tennessee law empowers you to fight for fair compensation, even after an initial denial.

Why Are Tornado Insurance Claims Denied?

Claims can be denied for various reasons, some legitimate, others questionable. Common culprits include policy exclusions (e.g., flood damage for a standard homeowner’s policy), insufficient evidence, or disputed damage assessments. In all cases, always request a detailed explanation from your insurer for the specific reason behind your denial.

Understanding the insurance companies reasoning doesn’t mean you should accept denial as the final answer. You have the right to appeal the decision, a process outlined in your policy and by Tennessee insurance regulations. This involves requesting a formal review of your claim, often with additional evidence or documentation.

Navigating an appeal can be complex. This is where consulting an expert specializing in insurance law can prove invaluable. They can guide you through the process, ensure you meet all deadlines, and represent your interests during any negotiations or hearings.

Remember, persistence is key: Don’t be discouraged by initial setbacks. Many successful claims involve persistence and a willingness to stand your ground. You have rights as a policyholder, and Tennessee regulations exist to protect them.

Home destroyed by a tornado with the sun rising in the background

Help and Resources for Tornado Insurance Claims in Tennessee

If you’re facing claim denial, know that you’re not alone. While insurance companies exist to offer financial safety nets, navigating complex policies and denials can leave you feeling helpless.

Claims-Related Regulations in Tennessee

Facing a tornado’s devastation, rebuilding your home shouldn’t involve hidden costs or unfair deductions. This Tennessee regulation helps ensure your insurance covers what it truly costs to restore your property, not just its depreciated value. If your policy offers replacement cost coverage, the regulation guarantees that:

  • Any necessary repairs or replacements include unavoidable damage caused by the work, like tearing down walls to access hidden damage. You won’t pay for these additional costs, only your deductible.
  • Mismatched replacements due to market availability won’t burden you. Your insurer must ensure a consistent appearance for both interior and exterior losses, again at no extra cost beyond your deductible.
  • As we recently noted in, Can Labor Be Depreciated When Considering Actual Cash Value, labor cannot be depreciated in Tennessee.

If your policy uses actual cash value, the insurer must detail any depreciation deductions they take from the replacement cost. You even have the right to request a written explanation if your property’s limited value affects your insurance payout.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has a number of claims-related regulations which should be reviewed. Here’s the original text of the regulation discussed above:

1) When the policy provides for the adjustment and settlement of first-party losses based on replacement cost, the following shall apply:

(a) When a loss requires repair or replacement of an item or part, any consequential physical damage incurred in making such repair or replacement not otherwise excluded by the policy, shall be included in the loss. The insured shall not have to pay for any cost except for betterment and any applicable deductible under the policy.

(b) When a loss requires replacement of items and the replaced items do not match in quality, color or size, the insurer shall replace items so as to conform to a reasonably uniform appearance according to the applicable policy provisions. This applies to interior and exterior losses. The insured shall not bear any cost over the applicable deductible, if any.

2) Actual Cash Value:

(a)When the insurance policy provides for the adjustment and settlement of losses on an actual cash value basis on residential fire and extended coverage, the insurer shall determine actual cash value as follows: replacement cost of property at time of loss less depreciation, if any. Upon the insured’s request, the insurer shall provide a copy of the claim file worksheets detailing any and all deductions for depreciation.

(b) In cases in which the insured’s interest is limited because the property has nominal or no economic value, or a value disproportionate to replacement cost less depreciation, the determination of actual cash value as set forth above is not required. In such cases, the insurer shall provide, upon the insured’s request, a written explanation of the basis for limiting the amount of recovery along with the amount payable under the policy.

Public Adjusters in Tennessee

Public adjusters play a key role in claims disputes. Think of them as professional advocates for policyholders, experts in deciphering insurance jargon and fighting for fair compensation. That being said, it’s important to know if and how public adjusting is regulated in your state before you decide to use one. Interestingly, Tennessee has no insurance company adjuster licensing requirement but does require public insurance adjusters to be licensed.

United Policyholders picked up the fact that Tennessee policyholders may face untrained and unqualified insurance company and independent adjusters with the following comment:

In Tennessee, insurance company adjusters are not licensed, and are not required to have any training, believe it or not.

Tennessee policyholders may want to keep that in mind while deciding to hire a public adjuster.

We have noted that while Tennessee has an Unfair Claims Settlement Act, it does not provide a private remedy in, Claims Handling Requirements By State—Tennessee.

Policies can have a shortened period to file suit as we noted in, Insurance Policy Language Which Shortens The Tennessee Statute of Limitations.

We’re The Policyholder’s Advocate

Navigating the path to fair compensation after a tornado is daunting, but there is hope. If you’re facing a denied claim, struggling with confusing regulations, or simply unsure of your next steps, the experienced insurance law team at Merlin Law stands ready to help.

Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. Contact us today at (877) 449-4700, or through our website, and let us fight for the compensation you deserve.

God bless all those suffering, and good luck with your insurance recovery.

Thought For The Day

There is a safe spot within every tornado. My job is to find it.
—David Copperfield