Ross and Demelza Poldark — names and locations have been changed to protect the innocent and as a nod to my favorite PBS series — suffered a catastrophic fire loss to their waterfront home in Cornwall, Maryland on St. Patrick’s Day 2018. The blaze started in the main fireplace flue and destroyed 90% of their home. Luckily, no one was home when the blaze leveled the property.
Following the fire, the Poldarks, with their three children, were out of their home for 18 months as it was rebuilt. Their homeowners insurance company, ZZZ Insurance, was reasonable in dealing with temporary lodgings, replacement of the home, and the two vehicles lost in the conflagration.
The Poldarks were greatly inconvenienced during the 18 months, but they were happy to get back into their rebuilt home after being away for so long. ZZZ Insurance, however, turned to an ironfisted negotiation stance when it came to valuing the loss of personal property within the home.
The initial offer to replace all of the Poldarks' furniture, appliances, clothing, jewelry, valuables, mementos and other personal belongings was $30,000. Moreover, ZZZ Insurance hired a large Washington D.C. law firm — Dewey, Cheetum & Howe LLP — to handle the claim on their behalf. The Poldarks received a six-page letter from the law firm, outlining 16 categories of documentation they were allegedly required to produce in order to receive reimbursement for lost belongings. The law firm was seeking credit card statements, receipts, income tax returns, photographs of lost property, and appraisals.
The Poldarks felt intimidated by the process. Rather than continuing to handle the claim on their own, they hired our law firm, and we took over negotiations on their behalf.
We assumed responsibility for all negotiations. We studied the complicated insurance contract. We gathered, organized, and produced all the requested documentation in a logical and useable fashion. We dealt with the insurance company and its attorneys. We were prepared to file suit for breach of contract. Fortunately, litigation was avoided. Ultimately, the Poldarks received an amount more than triple the initial offer from their insurer.
The best news for our clients was that they did not owe us one-third of the amount they received. Many times, these sorts of cases are handled on contingent fee bases, with the attorneys receiving a percentage of the recovery. However, we reduced our hourly rate in deference to our clients’ circumstances as working individuals battling a large corporation.
If you or a loved one is negotiating with a large insurance company, you will have many questions. You should consult with an attorney who is familiar with this area of the law and who will assist you in making informed decisions.
If you need further information regarding this subject, contact the Law Office of David V. Diggs LLC, located at 8684 Veterans Highway, Suite 204, in Millersville, by calling 410-244-1189 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.