We have posted several times about common tricks to watch for during the insurance claims process and we have also discussed particular insurance companies tactics. We felt it necessary to specifically call out Universal Insurance for several of it’s shady claim tactics. The desire to post this comes from a case in our office where Universal tested the homeowners property, discovered sinkhole activity, accepted coverage for the claim, paid part of the claim, demanded a neutral evaluation and engaged in litigation for nearly a year before they decided they were going to actually withdraw coverage based upon some sort of misrepresentation on the application. Keep in mind that Universal never even took the deposition or examination under oath of the homeowner and has yet to disclose exactly what it is they think the homeowner failed to disclose on her application. There has to be a line and Universal has crossed it again. Just as homeowners have a duty to cooperate fully with the investigations, insurance companies have a duty to do their due diligence in investigating the claim.
Thus is not the only tactic we have seen from Universal. Universal is also the only carrier I have seen that will make homeowners sign a Proof of Loss before they pay them their cosmetic damages. The Proof of Loss states that the homeowner is agreeing that this is the total amount of the damages and are accepting the money as such. This is one of the more despicable acts you will see from a property insurance carrier. Universal also has started to make a habit of bringing a copy of the insurance application to the initial meeting with the homeowners and grilling them about their answers to the application questions. If this happens to you, stop the conversation and contact an attorney, they are setting you up to deny the claim from day one. In my experience, Universal denies more claims based on alleged material misrepresentations than any other insurance company. As a homeowner be aware of what is going on, do not trust that they are working in your best interest and don’t let that big elephant trample you.