Hurricane Harvey made landfall at a really bad time for South Texas farmers. What was looking to be one of the best years ever may now turn into big losses in cotton and rice crops and others. Much of the area is still waiting for the water to go down so they can truly assess the damages. Some say it will take months and possibly a year for the loss totals to come in.
The adults are getting in on all the fun when it comes to personal drones. It was only a matter of time before the insurance industry found them useful too when assessing property damage insurance claims. From surveying the damages caused by storms, to inspecting roofs, to taking an inventory on insured crops, the drone has found its place in the business.
Allstate Insurance Company is using drones in Texas to conduct home inspections in the hail swaths. This is an effort to quickly handle more claims. Their plan is to compare the photographs taken by the drones to those already taken by field adjusters on the ground. Their intent is to free up more time for the adjusters to take care of other aspects of the claim all the while staying safer by not climbing ladders and onto roofs. Farmers Insurance says “we’ll get a faster inspection.” They say “it could take an adjuster a few hours to inspect this roof where a drone could do it in 20 minutes.”
Is this truly what is best for the policyholder, a faster inspection? And will this savings in time for the insurance company result in lower premiums for the policyholders? I think we all know the answer to that question. Nothing can replace the human eye when it comes to a thorough inspection of storm caused damage, especially hail damage. A lot of times, it is difficult to depict the damage from photographs taken by an adjuster who is actually on the roof. I can’t imagine that photographs taken using a drone would make this anything but more difficult.
A spokesperson from the Insurance Council of Texas believes that “the ladder might soon be a thing of the past.” Just another reason the policyholder is going to require the services of a licensed public adjuster to get a thorough inspection and estimate of the damages. If your insurance adjuster isn’t going to get on the roof, your public adjuster definitely is.
Last week we talked about what a public adjuster is and what their background and training includes. Now let’s talk about why you should hire a public adjuster and the many advantages it can bring to your claim.
People frequently ask questions like “why should I hire and pay my own adjuster when my insurance company already has an adjuster for me?” Well, the adjuster from the insurance company doesn’t work for you; they work for the insurance company and therefore have the best interests of the insurance company in mind. True that they don’t cost you anything? – NOT true actually. When you consider the items that their adjuster may either omit from the estimate altogether or just miscalculate the value of, it could potentially cost you a lot more than hiring a public adjuster to represent you.
The job of the public adjuster is to conduct a thorough inspection of the damage and put together an estimate that fully encompasses the scope and costs of repair. They are also going to do their best to protect you from any unnecessary costs that might be suggested by the insurance adjuster, such as cleaning items that will end up having to be replaced in the end. Having someone who truly works for you also means that you will have an advocate to manage and negotiate the claim start to finish, relieving you of much time and stress.
Particularly when it comes to a large claim with a more complex scope of loss (fire, flood, tornado), it can be difficult for you to know if the estimate accounts for all damages accurately and if it is consistent with the coverage your policy provides. A public adjuster is trained in coverage questions and knows the tricks of the trade.
If your loss includes damage to your personal property as well, you must also consider the amount of time it consumes to document and inventory a large loss of this nature. The contents alone can literally take hours to put together and then you are still required to price those items and provide more documentation including models, serial numbers, price verification, age, and condition. Most insurance companies do not have adjusters who inspect and inventory the contents loss for you – they will instead hand you a spreadsheet and tell you to get to work. Depending on the type and severity of the loss, the insurance company may even send a contents cleaning company to take as much as possible to be cleaned. You can bet that in this case there will be many items taken to be cleaned that should no question be replaced, not cleaned and returned to you.
You wouldn’t use the same attorney as your spouse in a divorce, so why would you try to negotiate with an insurance company when there are professionals who do it for a living. These claim professionals (public adjusters) also know there is more to hail damage than just your roof — windows, gutters, vents, siding, etc. They know there is more to a flood claim than just sheetrock and paint — electrical, floors, windows, contents, etc.
No one has ever said insurance is fun. Just another reason for you to reach out to a public adjuster or other claim professional and get the answers you need to get the settlement you are entitled to.
Have you heard the saying “Dome of Doom”? This is what some call the annual mid-summer heat wave in the “Corn Belt”. When this happens, it’s like “a lid on a pot”. The sweating corn can actually cause an increase in the humidity which in turn causes an increase in the heat index. Crazy – right? Climate and weather have a huge impact on quality and productivity of crops and livestock, particularly relating to hydration and temperature.
Earlier this year, Texas and New Mexico were hit with what was named Winter Storm Goliath which resulted in the death of more than 30,000 head of dairy and beef cattle. High snow drifts and brutal temperatures were to blame for most of the losses in this area where some owners and caretakers were unable to access their herds for almost two full days.
Aside from the cold, heat, and precipitation (or lack thereof), another influential ag deterrent is hail. In Lincolnshire, Illinois, farms were pummeled by an unexpected hail storm which left wheat fields there with a remarkable portion of stripped plants and leaving behind substantial damage. This vicious hail storm damaged or destroyed as much as half of the crops in some areas.
These weather events leave farmers with a mess to clean up and a huge hole in their pocketbooks. Some farmers are in a rush to overplant with another crop as soon as possible to try to salvage something from the season. These crops and farms have lots of exposure because of government-type insurance. For those who do insure privately, it often does result in quicker payments at a time when it is needed the most.
Regardless of the type of help you need, consult with a professional to assist with documenting, negotiating, and settling your claim.
Looks like the fruit trees are already in full bloom, which is a little early for our area. I’m sure this is a result of the above average temperatures and not much of a meaningful winter.
In Texas, strawberries and sweet peas are thriving in the warm temperatures while the fruit bearing trees are going to struggle because they require a certain number of cooling/chilling hours which they haven’t gotten. Lots of trees are already in bloom and a late freeze now would likely kill off any growth making budding fruit drop to the ground.
Crop related insurance policies are complicated and require an expert to really break it down and determine what the coverage is on a loss. A lot of growers depend on cash based sales and don’t have receipts from previous years’ sales to help document a claim. Also, there is a difference in coverage relating to whether you grow for fresh sales or for processing. Although insurance cannot fully replace the economic loss of your crop, buying crop insurance could be considered the cost of staying in business for one more year.
Do you know what your policy coverage is and how it relates to your specific crops? Did you know there are options out there to engage an expert to assist with your claim so that you can continue to focus your time and efforts on what’s left in your field for the season at hand? Crop coverage is very unique and definitely an opportunity where an expert is needed.
We all love this time of year and the fresh produce that comes with it. Can’t wait for the first harvest!
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