For over 20 years, I’ve represented homeowners in front of large insurance companies. I spend my days assisting my clients in the preparation, presentation, negotiation, and adjustment of their insurance claims. Today, I’m sharing an experience I had while handling a property damage claim in Sherman Oaks.
How did you first become involved with this claim?
I received a call from a returning client. She owned a few income properties in the Sherman Oaks area. As the landlord, she was responsible for maintaining the house, but she didn’t visit the site frequently. She reached out to me for help with a property damage claim.
What kind of property damage was it?
This was a particularly unique and tragic case. My client had been renting the home to two tenant’s bodies, who died on the property. Most people don’t know that their homeowners’ insurance policy considers death a covered loss. They do this because the event is sudden and accidental.
Why did their passing cause property damage?
Death doesn’t typically cause property damage, but this home required serious restoration. The tenants had begun to decompose in the home before they were found. Before we could start restoration, we had to involve local law enforcement. The police needed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths, and the home was initially declared a health hazard.
Can you do restoration work during an investigation?
Everyone involved in this claim understood that the police work had to come first. The insurance company cannot proceed with repairs during an active investigation. They also cannot use the delay in the claims process as an opportunity to decrease your settlement. When the police closed the case, we started our work.
We began by contacting a special company that specializes in the removal of human remains. Unfortunately, even without the bodies, the scent of decomposition was pervasive. The restoration company made a good-faith effort to clear the smell without demolition, but ultimately, we had to gut the house from the inside. There were simply too many lingering toxins and health hazards.
Was it difficult to negotiate this claim with the insurance company?
This claim is an excellent example of cooperation between corporate and public adjusters. We worked together to determine the best course of action. The insurance provider offered homeowners policies, and they didn’t frequently process death-related claims. Although they insisted that we exhaust all avenues for repairs before beginning replacements, they eventually settled the case for the full restoration cost.