Collapse claims are very complicated types of insurance losses from the perspective of causation. In many home and business owner policies, collapse is a peril that is an excluded cause of loss. Some policies do have an endorsement which provides for such extra coverage, however, those endorsements which provide coverage for collapse limit that coverage to certain underlying causes.
Once an insurance claim for collapse is submitted, you should expect in most cases for the insurance company to dispatch an engineer to inspect the loss and "determine the cause", and provide the insurance company with their conclusion. The engineer assigned should not be expected to have your best interests in mind, as they are retained by the insurance company. They do not work for you and their focus may be to establish that an excluded cause was involved.
The initial presentation of a collapse can be the difference between a covered loss and a denied insurance claim. A couple of incorrect words in a report could set a denial in motion. It is often suggested to consult with your own engineer so that you can dispute the carrier's claim, should they attempt to deny it.
If a collapse occurs, it should be reported immediately. If immediate work is required to prevent further damage or danger to life before the insurance company adjuster can arrive, everything should be properly photographed and documented. Failure to do so could result in an unnecessary investigation and raise suspicions as to material aspects of the loss being covered up.
Our office can assist immediately, 24/7 and help with claim submission, obtaining estimates, emergency remediation, alternative living, and piece of mind.
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