This man probably has a valuable Iowa homeowner’s property damage claim and Iowa lawyers in our office see this type of claim every year. But in this case the homeowner is trying to settle his own claim by doing a little Internet research. Believing he is now equipped with enough knowledge he heads off to settle his own claim. He contacts the insurance adjuster and not long after the initial contact figures out he's in over his head. What made him think a little Internet research equips him with the tools to play lawyer? Does he understand enough about Iowa homeowner and property damage law to be his own lawyer? Probably not, but let’s see why he is now asking an Iowa homeowner’s lawyer for free advice.
Question: What if I made the adjuster in my homeowner’s claim an offer to settle the case and did it without an attorney and before doing research and realized I way low balled it? An insurance agent left a message for me to callback and talk about the claim? Can I up the settlement with the information I've obtained?
Answer: You can withdraw your last offer before it is accepted and make a new offer. But by doing so you may be hurting your claim without even knowing it because unlike a lawyer you are not trained to understand the law of homeowner claims and the insurance adjuster knows it. When you make an offer, then withdraw it and make a new one that is higher the adjuster will likely put your claim file on the back burner because it will obvious to him he can't trust that what you say one day will be true the next. You may want to hire an attorney who is also a real estate professional to negotiate the deal. In the end it could save you a lot of money. As a lawyer and a real estate broker I see homeowners trying to do what they are not trained to do and ultimately they hurt their case and the amount of the recovery. It's like the guy who tries to fix his leaky toilet in the upstairs bathroom and then ends up paying to fix the drywall in the lower level wall and ceiling. You see sometimes when we play repairman and don't know what we are doing, we create more damage and a lot more work.
This is a common situation with Iowa personal injury and property damage claims. Iowa lawyers see people do this same thing with representing themselves after doing a small amount of Internet research. Litigation isn’t like repairing a toilet but the Internet gives people a false sense of security that they are fully equipped to play lawyer. You can't compare an hours worth of reading on the Internet to years of education, training and actual litigation experience. Some people with valuable claims try to handle their own case and end up ruining their property damage insurance claims in Iowa. In the end it matters little whether the case is ruined because of what they say to unethical insurance adjusters or that they settle too darn cheap. Either way they are not getting all they can. Not all insurance adjusters are unethical, but like any profession a few bad apples can ruin it for everyone.
Are you smart enough to know if this is an unethical insurance adjuster who thinks your claim is frivolous? Maybe you believe he's your good neighbor? Or willing to do the right thing? Really?
In my thirty plus years of experience settling these claims it is true that people with a lawyer receive more even with paying legal fees. That's because most laypeople have no way of knowing which facts are important and what laws apply.
And then there is this guy who believes his case is different than any other claim in all the history of insurance. Iowa lawyers are told quite often by clients their case is different because they are honest and those other people aren’t honest. Our clients will say their case is different because theirs is not frivolous, inferring many claims are, but theirs is not. This statement is meaningless to an insurance industry that spent billions of dollars trying to convince the general public millions of frivolous claims were clogging up the legal system.
What they, and probably you, don’t understand is they think most every case as frivolous.
How will you convince the insurance adjuster that your case is meritorious? And how will you know if the adjuster thinks your case is frivolous? You won’t because they will not volunteer that opinion. Instead the adjuster will steer the recorded interview in such a way to void your claim. You will know what he or she thinks only after they deny your claim.
Is your claim considered by the insurance adjuster to be frivolous or not? Very few cases are frivolous. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a frivolous personal injury case in Iowa. But that’s not what insurance adjusters are taught to think; quite the opposite. Most people think their claim isn’t and you might be right, but then again you might be wrong about what some activist insurance adjuster thinks about your Iowa homeowner’s claim.
Can you afford to be wrong? If you can afford to lose, then it’s not a problem, just have at it; if you can’t hire an Iowa insurance lawyer.
So call me for help. 515-222-1110 or [email protected] Steve Lombardi, Attorney and Real Estate Broker
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