Experienced Assistance In Wisconsin Fire Loss Claims

After a fire you may be dealing with a laundry list of damages that includes fire damage, smoke damage, business interruption and income loss, as well as the aching loss of personal and sentimental property. If the insurance company controls the investigation of the fire loss, including hiring exclusively their own experts, the outcome can be catastrophically bad.

Does My Insurer Have Any Obligation?

Yes. There are many things the insurance company has to do in a property insurance claim. There are also practices that an insurer is forbidden to do. In Wisconsin fire loss claims there are five things to know:

  1. The claims adjuster is obligated to help you with your claim.
  2. Your insurer must investigate every claim in a timely and fair manner.
  3. If a payment is owed, your insurer must promptly pay the claim.*
  4. If your insurer denies your claim, they must give you an explanation as to why.
  5. The insurer has to disclose any and all significant facts to you.

Insurance companies must treat you fairly and reasonably. The duty owed by your insurance company is known as a duty of good faith and fair dealing, or a fiduciary duty. If your insurer violates one or more of these duties, your insurer may have committed bad faith.

What Is Insurance Bad Faith?

A consumer's relationship with their insurance company is called a fiduciary relationship. This means an insurer must treat your interests as a policy holder with the same consideration it gives its own interests.

Consumers are buying a guarantee when they buy insurance. They do not set the terms of the contract nor are they in a position to bargain.

Additionally it is understood that a consumer:

  • Understands that the insurer agrees to pay and will pay the amounts owed under the policy.
  • Will attempt to collect in the event of a loss such as a wrecked car, a burned out house, or a terrible injury.

The law recognizes that under a distressful circumstance it would be fundamentally unfair for an insurance company to take advantage of the situation. Therefore the law sets special obligations as to how insurance companies must treat you, the policy holder.

Three Things To Know When You Bring A Claim Under The Bad Faith Law

  1. An insurance company is required by law to live up to their end of the insurance contract.
  2. There are many ways that insurance companies can commit bad faith, including denying and delaying payment. Bad faith includes an insurer making "unreasonable interpretations of the policy language" that either limits your recovery or makes it possible for the insurer to avoid paying you.
  3. Your insurance company must treat you fairly. If the company does not you can bring a bad faith claim.

Contact The Firm With The Experience To Help

Our Middleton firm has handled numerous complex and substantial fire loss cases, some of which gained significant media attention. These cases include a resort that burned down where the insurance company disputed the origin and cause of the fire, as well as the amount required to rebuild. Another noteworthy case involved a tavern that burned down and the insurance company hired and paid experts who were used by law enforcement to wrongfully convict the insured of arson. Having an attorney in the firm who is a firefighter, who has received training in fire science, and who has been inside of many burning structures himself can be a tremendous asset.

When you hire us, you get experts in the personal injury field. We are not a general practice firm who does real estate, family law, criminal defense, etc., who also happens to dabble in personal injury. Because of that, we have the knowledge and experience to know what is a fair value for your case, and the skill to help you obtain a just result.

Even if your Madison-area case is complex, challenging or has been rejected by another firm, contact us. Call us toll-free at 800-817-3729 or 608-821-4600 and speak with a lawyer. You can also fill out our online contact form to tell us a little about your case and an attorney will get back to you. All three of our attorneys at Atterbury, Kammer & Haag, S.C. have received a 10.0 or "superb" rating as personal injury attorneys by Avvo.

*An insurance company must respond in a reasonable amount of time. Some deadlines relating to payment of claims are set by statute or administrative regulation. It is unlawful for them to ignore you or delay payment.