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Insurance Carrier: Georgia Farm Bureau
Insured with Ga Farm Bureau, we had a house fire in June of 2007; it was a total loss. Their investigator came, then brought a C&O specialist. We did a statement under oath in Aug 2007; we heard NOTHING from them until we finally received a letter of denial with no reason or proof. They will not speak to us, we have contacted GA INS Comm, and they said GFB has done nothing wrong. We have been told the only thing we can do is file a lawsuit against GFB, but we would have to hire our own fire investigator. We have spent most all of our savings trying to replace our things; it will cost several thousand dollars to hire a investigator that we don't have. Also, GFB has acquired the servicing rights for our mortgage, which they are holding on to until the statute of time runs out. They do not want to mix foreclosure with a lawsuit for breech of contract. What can we do to make them do what is right?
Insurance Expert Answer:
Get a lawyer NOW! This sure looks to me as if it is about money, and not just "principle."
Yes, you will need an expert if it ever goes to trial, but sometimes the lawyer would advance that cost. For an insurance company to deny a large claim, without providing any basis in fact for the denial, sounds unusual and smacks of bad faith.
Assuming your homeowners policy was in effect, you did not lie on the application or intentionally cause the fire, and your claim was justified, the company's refusal to provide an explanation for its denial exposes the insurance company to all sorts of additional damages beyond the claim itself, including consequential, exemplary and punitive damages for bad faith in most states. Some lawyers might handle the claim largely on a contingency basis, although most would require some payment up front to make sure they get paid for doing the background work to determine that the claim is legitimate.
Of course if the claim was fraudulent that's a whole other kettle of fish, and you might need a criminal defense lawyer. Move rapidly as there are strict statues of limitation and if you don't file suit in time (and some statutes of limitation may already be gone for some elements of the possible claim) you lose and get nothing. If you have no money at all to hire a lawyer, you may be out of luck, but speak to a lawyer first, and our www.AttorneyPages.com affiliate is a great place to start -- look under insurance lawyers and personal injury lawyers.