Hi Blane. I agree with Dan Veroff that you need to consult with a lawyer at this point. You mention several different types of problems with the insurer’s response to your claim. I recommend you consult with a lawyer so you can understand what your legal options are and their pros and cons.
One aspect of your disputes with your carrier appears to be the amounts required to repair or replace your home and personal property. Generally, disputes about the scope and cost of required repairs can be resolved via a process called “appraisal,” which is a form of private arbitration the carrier has to participate in if the policyholder demands it. The biggest advantage of this process is that it’s a lot faster than a lawsuit and there’s no appeal, so in 3-6 months you could have a ruling on the amount you’re entitled to for the repairs/re-building the company will pay without further dispute. There are several downsides, the details of which I can’t get into here, but the biggest one is that appraisals can get very expensive, even if you don’t hire a lawyer to represent you.
Other issues, like the amount of coverage your policy provides, whether they handled your claim in good faith, and whether you have a claim against your agent or the carrier for under-insuring you home, can’t be decided by an appraisal. The Department of Insurance has a mediation program for residential claim disputes which the Department can require the insurer to participate in. If successful, the insurer would pay you more than they’ve offered so far, enough to make it worth your while to release them from any further liability. You won’t be offered anything for “bad faith” claim handling in this type of mediation, but you’ll be required to give up any further claims you may have against the carrier based on the fire and their handling of your loss.
Otherwise your way forward on these issues is to file a lawsuit. I recommend you select a couple of experienced insurance coverage/bad faith lawyers from the UP website who represent policyholders and offer a free initial consultation. Before or during the consultation, the lawyer will ask you for some brief preliminary information about your claim, walk you through the pros and cons of a lawsuit, discuss available fee arrangements, and give you an indication whether s/he may be willing to take your case based on the information you provide before or during the consultation. I recommend you consult with at least two lawyers before making a decision.
I hope this is helpful. Good luck.