Your insurance company just processed your claim, offered you a settlement, and asked you to sign a property damage release form.Now what?If you are thinking about whether or not you should sign the document, taking your time to review this legally-binding form is certainly the right thing to do.In fact, you want to go further than that.This article will cover all the ins and outs that you must know before signing the form, and what to expect after that.Let’s take a look.
Property Damage Release Form: Sign Or Not?
Prior to answering this question, you need to first understand what this document is for and take a few factors into consideration.
What Is a Property Damage Release Form?
Your insurance company will give you a property damage release form when they investigate your claim and estimate the value of your losses.This is what the process typically looks like:
- An insurance adjuster inspects your losses from a disaster.
- The company evaluates how much your damages are worth.
- They offer you a settlement amount that they believe you’re entitled to.
- The insurer sends you a property damage release form.
- When you sign the document, they will give you your settlement.
Before you sign the form, make sure that the estimated damages and payout amounts fairly reflect your losses.After signing the document, you can’t reopen your claim or ask for a larger settlement. This is the case even if you discover additional damages that the insurance company didn’t cover or wasn’t aware of.Your insurer might give you a property damage release document that’s under a different title, such as a ‘Release of Liability Form’ or a ‘Release of All Claims Form’.When presented with one, you need to carefully read it and take a few things into consideration.
Critical Factors to Consider Before Signing
Now that you know what a property damage release form is, you can decide on whether or not you want to sign it by looking at what it includes.Here are some critical factors that you should keep in mind:
What Damages Are (and Aren’t) Covered
Take a look at which damages are included in and excluded from the form.If the document covers certain damages that could get worse in the future, you may have to think twice about signing it.Meanwhile, when the form leaves out these damages and only includes the ones that you believe are fully repaired, you might want to sign the form to get your compensation and recover your losses faster.If the insurance company excludes some damages until they further investigate them, they may ask for your permission to do so.
Permission From the Insurance Company
The property damage release form could give your insurance company permission to access specific information about you.For example, when the company leaves certain damages out of the form because they need to examine them in more detail, they will ask for permission to enter your home or talk to contractors about the repairs.Similarly, the provider might want to view your medical records when you get injured during a disaster and file a claim to get your health care bills reimbursed.When the form that you receive gives the insurance company permissions, consider whether or not they’re necessary and how long they will last for.At times, a verified property report from an independent third party that shows the history of your home will include all the details that the insurance company is looking for.
Benefits In the Long Run
Think about how signing the form may impact you in a few years from now. In other words, don’t let the temptation of getting your settlement money right away cloud your judgment.For example, after you sign the form, you may go on to discover that there are other damages that you weren’t previously aware of. Since you already signed the document, you would have to personally pay for these repair costs in full.The amount could be much larger than what the insurance company originally offered you to settle your claim.This is in addition to the time and money that you would have to spend on challenging the settlement, working with a lawyer, and continuing to go through the property damage insurance claims process.
Attorney or Lawyer Involvement
Consider hiring a lawyer or attorney to go over your property damage release form if you have a complicated claim. You might also want to work with one when you’re worried that the insurance company isn’t giving you a fair settlement.A qualified insurance attorney can advise you on what your rights are and give you an idea of what to expect when you sign the form.
What Can You Do After You Signed the Property Damage Release Form
Now that you signed the document and submitted it to the company or your property and casualty insurance agent, you are probably wondering what you can do if you discover additional damages that you were never compensated for.For the most part, you must cover the repair costs in full. However, you still have a few options, including the following:
- Know Your Exclusions – If the new damages that you uncovered are excluded from the form, you are eligible to get compensated for them.
- Report the Company to the State – If you believe that the company was negligent or dishonest with you, report them to your state’s government so that they investigate the issue.
- Hire an Attorney – A qualified insurance attorney will explain your options and negotiate with the insurer on your behalf. At times, they may advise you to file a lawsuit, such as when the company violates the terms of your policy or the release form.
Sample Property Damage Release Forms
Here are a couple of examples of what property damage release of liability waivers and forms typically look like:
Frequently Asked Questions About Property Damage Release Forms
How Do You Write a Release of Liability Form?
Insurance companies will provide you with this form. If you want to write it yourself, consider using a customizable online template.These templates allow you to put together a form that outlines the damages that you suffered and complies with your state’s laws.
What is a Release of Claims Form?
A release of claims form is simply another term for a property damage release form.It’s a document that states that you agree with the insurance company’s evaluation of the damages and will not ask them for further compensation after they give you your settlement.
To Sign or Not To Sign the Property Damage Release Form: Making Your Decision
At this point, you should understand all the ins and outs that come with signing the property damage release form.Go ahead and grab the document that the insurance company gave you. Read through it and think about how it will benefit you today and in 10 years from now.What types of damages does it cover? Are the ones that you’re worried about included/excluded?Does it impact your privacy? If so, how comfortable are you with that?You may still be wondering whether to sign the form or not, and you probably have to do some more thinking.However, by reading this article, you now know what to think about and the factors that you need to consider when making your decision.