Understanding What Your Insurance Policy Says

Most people have some type of insurance coverage – homeowners, health, auto, life, etc.  However, most people are not able to fully interpret the language in an insurance policy and therefore don’t always have a full understanding of whether they are adequately covered or not.  This is especially true when it comes to homeowners policies or commercial property coverage.  As a result, lots of folks may find themselves thinking they had coverage that they don’t or may even find themselves to be underinsured and didn’t realize this until it’s too late.  Do you understand what your insurance policy actually says?

The purpose of insurance is to reduce your exposure to the effects of particular risks.  Insurance serves as a means to indemnify you after a loss and put your property back together to it’s pre-occurrence condition without costing you anything out-of-pocket other than any applicable deductible.  Not having insurance at all is taking a huge gamble and hoping that things work out for the best.

Having a full understanding of your policy language and how that relates to your coverage is of the utmost importance.  Some insurance companies have gotten sneaky with their policy language and have begun to include language that protects them instead of you the policyholder.  This is particularly eye opening when a policy includes language specifically concerning the discontinuation of products or materials such as shingles, siding, brick, and tiles and flooring.  This becomes an important policy exclusion to coverage when you find that you have damage to one room of your home and the same materials (flooring and paint) continue into the next room.  Now there is no match of the materials and the insurance company won’t pay for the undamaged room so now you’re in a bind.

Standard policy language allows for a full replacement rather than repair when the product can no longer be purchased and has been discontinued or is otherwise out of date.  Some policies now include language specifically excluding this issue and stating that they “are not required nor do they guarantee a match of materials” [policy language taken from a Homesite Insurance homeowner’s policy].  They state further that “the repair is intended to return the damaged property to a pre-loss condition without regard to cosmetic appearance,” meaning that materials used to make the repair “may vary in color, shading, dimensions, pattern, and composition” [emphasis added].  This goes directly against the purpose of insurance at a very basic level which is to return your property to the pre-loss condition which should absolutely include the matching of materials.

Another concern that people don’t fully understand is being underinsured.  This occurs when someone either doesn’t realize the full value of the property being insured or possibly are mortgage free and not required to have a certain level of coverage. Shortcuts are made to save money by lowering coverage thereby saving on premiums, hoping it won’t be needed (taking on the risk). If or when damage occurs and devastation hits, it’s too late.

Make sure that you understand what your policy says and that you have the coverage you need to be made whole again.  There are professionals who can help you with this.

The Danger and Disruption a Fire Insurance Claim Causes

The danger and disruption cause by a fire is enormous.  Losses from fire can range from a total loss to a simple clean up of a few walls and everything in between. Each fire claim is very different so hopefully we can help you understand how to speak the lingo and how to set your expectations when dealing with the insurance company.

First, is it safe to enter the home? Not usually.

Assuming that the fire is minimal (in regards to safety), the fire department typically soaks the area when putting out the fire. This creates a potential hazard of wet sheet rock falling from the ceiling. There is also likely broken glass on the floor in addition to other tripping hazards due to the firefighters moving things around in order to put the fire out. In addition, the air is now toxic.

What should I take out of house immediately after the fire?

The insurance company may ask you to leave things alone until they send someone for an inspection. Use common sense and remove only what you cannot live without. This means birth certificates and important documents, family heirlooms and memorabilia, etc. It’s okay to remove these items because otherwise you run the risk of things being destroyed by mold in just a few days. There is also the risk of smoke or the possibility of your property being broken into while unoccupied. These items are covered by your insurance, but money won’t replace a family heirloom or memory.

Be sure to take photos of every room, panoramic and up close, before you remove or move anything. Those precious items then should be cleaned and dried by a professional because any moisture could lead to mold. Also, smoke is acidic and can slowly eat away at things. Do not procrastinate when having items cleaned. Call a contents restoration company right away for those items.

Solicitors have arrived. What do I do?

Chances are, especially if you live in a major city, you will be solicited by restoration contractors, cleaning companies, and public adjusters. All of these professionals add value to a claim. However, each of these groups will likely give you different advice because of their financial interests in the job. A contractor wants the insurance company to account for as much replacement of the structure as possible and doesn’t benefit from the contents portion of the claim at all. On the other hand, a cleaning/restoration company will want to clean and salvage as much as possible on contents and structure. A public adjuster will be interested in pursuing and obtaining the maximum settlement for the entire claim – structure and contents. Therefore, because of these different financial interests, you can see how each group will be jockeying for the ball.

A lot of people prefer not to be bothered by solicitors, especially after sustaining such a catastrophic event. There is a silver lining though. These professionals all have a good perspective and valuable opinion when it comes to the extent of damages sustained. Unlike some fly-by-night roofer that chases hail storms, you should recognize the value in these claim professionals after a simple walk-through listening to their recommendations. Whether you choose to hire or not, definitely consider the source of the information received prior to signing anything. Before hiring anyone, do your homework, call references, and make sure they are easy to contact.

Should I use the insurance company’s preferred contractor?

Chances are the insurance company will send out a “preferred” contractor or cleaning company immediately after the claim is reported. Even though these companies are “preferred,” don’t be fooled and don’t assume that they are the best choice just because your insurance company trusts them. Choosing to use a preferred cleaning company or contractor recommended by the insurance carrier has its pros and cons.

The advantage of using a preferred contractor or cleaning company is they don’t want you to complain to the insurance company about the work.  Therefore, you should expect to receive good work based on the scope that the insurance company approved. This is best case scenario.

On the other hand, you must consider where the financial interest lies, which most likely is with the insurance company. Chances are they will figure out how to work inside the adjuster’s scope of loss in hopes of cruising under the radar, which solidifies their relationship with the insurance company and leads to future jobs. When you allow a contractor or cleaning company chosen by the insurance company to perform the repairs, your negotiating power is all but taken from you. The adjuster will then be able to use that contractor or cleaning company as their “consultant” to determine the scope of repairs and pricing, and that is likely what you will be stuck with.

Furthermore, if you allow the insurance company’s cleaning company to get to work right away, its likely, depending on the severity of the loss, the money will be spent attempting to clean items that are not cleanable and really need to be replaced. If your claim, structure or contents, reaches your policy limit, those wasted funds spent on attempted cleaning will significantly affect the amount you are left with to rebuild your home and replace your lifetime of belongings.

In summary, if the insurance adjuster is giving away the farm, the preferred contractor might be a good match for you. But, if there are things the contractor and the adjuster are not wanting to pay for, or if you don’t think you are being treated fairly, a preferred contractor is not a good match. Whatever you decide, don’t make any hasty decisions. Take your time, do your homework, and get a feel for the people and/or companies you are dealing with, and make the decision that you are most comfortable with.

When can I start disposing of the contents?

You really should wait until the insurance adjuster arrives to inspect so that you have a better feeling for what items may be in dispute. Many times the adjuster will attempt to salvage as much of the contents as possible and bring in a cleaning company to pack them out and clean them. When you walk through the house with the insurance adjuster and their recommended cleaning company, stay with them. Make certain that they are not attempting to salvage and clean items that are just not cleanable. This includes sofas, beds, clothing, inexpensive items like stuffed animals, etc. It is important to remember that the cleaning company gets paid to clean which is less expensive than the alternative – replacement. If you don’t have a claim professional on your side, be firm with what you believe is not salvageable. After you and the insurance adjuster have determined what is non-salvageable, the adjuster will either have someone price the non-salvageable items or request that you document the items and price them. As with all insurance claims, do not remove anything from the home until you have first taken pictures. This is the single most important task when it comes to your contents coverage. It is important to take both a photo of the entire room as it stands and individual photos of each and every item in the room. Be sure to open cabinets and photograph items damaged. Once the picture taking is complete, use common sense when disposing of any non-salvageable items. If you hire a contents inventory company or a public adjuster, it is their job to document each of these items.

What can I expect from my insurance adjuster meeting?

Assuming you get an experienced insurance adjuster, you should consider them an artist who is painting the picture of what should be approved on your claim. If they are good at painting that picture, the claim should be approved based on those findings. A seasoned insurance adjuster will typically have a certain way they conduct an inspection. Usually, this includes going from room to room through the home explaining what their recommendation will be and why. You most likely will not be in agreement with everything, so take notes. Also, it is a possibility that the adjuster may get some friction from his file examiner concerning some of the items that he agrees need to be replaced during his inspection, so be sure and note the items that the adjuster has agreed to account for as well. If you hire a public adjuster, he or she can handle all of this for you.

Where can I expect to get resistance from my insurance adjuster?

When an object actually sustains a burn, there is rarely a dispute over paying for it. However, when you experience smoke damage instead of an obvious burn, it becomes an area where a professional is crucial. This is a “hot topic ” and a grey area that requires an expert. For example, if the fire was contained to one room, but smoked out the entire house, you may need to replace the windows because seals may have melted causing them to fog in the future. Smoke can also penetrate the moving parts of the window.

Insurance adjusters usually will do their best on the obvious things – like replacement of sheet rock, insulation, and painted surfaces. But smoke also discolors things in your home that they may suggest salvaging. It can attach to duct work, etch metal and granite, and even cause electrical issues. Be sure to have a professional on your side evaluate these areas so that they can be properly addressed with the adjuster.

How do I resolve these issues?

It is important to consult a claim professional right away who specializes in smoke damage. If your desire a settlement based on a quality, professional report, you should can hire your own public adjuster to handle these issues and perfect the claim. It is best to consult with a claim professional as quickly as possible following the loss so that they can be one step ahead and set the tone for the entire claim.

How much work is involved in handling the claim myself?

If you are set on completing your own contents inventory, you should consider that it will take approximately five (5) minutes per item to complete. This time calculation is based upon completing a full description and pricing of ALL items, and including a web link for all of the more expensive items and/or specialty items. The average home can expect to inventory 1,000-3,000 items. With respect to the structure, the most difficult task is contacting a qualified person to assess the smoke damage and submit a report and supporting estimate to the insurance adjuster. If there are multiple areas of the claim in dispute, there most likely will also be multiple people to coordinate with to evaluate the damages. It can be a full time job.

What is covered under my policy?

If you are adequately insured, there should be enough coverage for everything you own (with a few exclusions) and living expenses while displaced from your home during repairs. Fire claims are a nightmare, but if properly insured and if you are able to reach a reasonable settlement with the insurance adjuster, you should only be out-of-pocket the deductible.

How long will it be before I get my check?

You can request an advance payment immediately. Insurance claims can sometimes feel like you’re shooting at a moving target, especially if you’re trying to handle everything yourself. However, best case scenario, by hiring a claim professional to represent your interest, you could get a thorough initial adjustment and possibly receive a structure payment in as little as a month and possibly receive the contents payment in two months. However, when there are areas of dispute, it will be necessary to budget additional time to get these issues resolved. “It’s best to lead than follow.” So, for time sake, be proactive immediately after a loss and map out a plan.

I fixed my house, but what if I file a claim again?

If you have had a prior claim, you should still be covered on everything that you replaced. It is highly recommended that you keep really good records (i.e. receipts, pictures while the construction is underway, etc.), especially if you choose to replace items that were damaged with new items that are exactly the same or very similar.

Keep your head up!

Handling an insurance claim can be very stressful and the financial impact may be crippling if not managed correctly. Stay organized and surround yourself with good people who can guide you through this tragic event.

Cleaning Up Your Contents After a Hurricane

‘Tis the season to be jolly and deck the halls with Christmas joy. Some may find that difficult this year as they are still in the middle of cleanup and restoration as a result of the 2017 Hurricane Season. This season was exceptionally tough on folks in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Some of the issues in Texas involve the damage and contamination caused by the “black” water that destroyed their contents. CAT adjusters flooded the area immediately with the logic and advice that these items might be cleaned, particularly the pots, pans, dishes and glassware. We came across an article actually written by a cleaning company that stated the only thing that could be cleaned to a safe usable level after this contamination is the glassware. This coming from a company who earns its’ living cleaning items. They are referring to contents that were sitting in flood waters, waters contaminated by sewage and chemicals.

If you have ever personally experienced a flood such as the one caused by Hurricane Harvey, one thing you will remember for a long time is the smell. One whiff of this and there’s no way you would agree to the cleaning of the pots, pans, dishes or glassware. We have insurance to replace these items when damaged. This would certainly be considered damage and not something you can just wash off and continue to use. The insurance companies would like for you to clean and disinfect these items, they say just immerse these items in boiling water for 10 minutes to disinfect and sanitize. We say I don’t think so!

In Florida, those affected by Hurricane Irma saw much different damage from powerful winds rather than flood. Those folks are battling the storm created opening language in the policies and other issues related to wind. However, their biggest battle has been the stortage of insurance adjusters created by the back-to-back storms. Some three months after the storm and some policyholders have still not seen an adjuster and some still haven’t received a penny from their insurance company. Demolition and repairs are already underway because they must protect their property from further damage while they wait for their claim to be handled. This is a struggle since there is no definite timeline on the payment of the insurance proceeds. Fortunately, some contractors have begun work knowing that payment is going to be delayed but have still been willing to help these people out.

If you find yourself in need of help or thinking that maybe your claim has come up short, it is easy to find professional help. A simple review of your claim and/or estimate by a licensed public adjuster may shed some light on the process and where those shortfalls are and help you reach full resolution concerning your claim.

Turn Around Your Flood Claim With Professional Help

A flood is never fun to deal with. When it comes to insurance claims, the worst type of claim you can have is a flood claim. Flooding causes a devastating amount of damage, compounded by the fact that you have limited coverage and it can take months to settle a claim. The following is a breakdown based upon my experience on what to expect during a typical flood claim.

How bad is the water itself?

The flood water is typically category 3 water, also referred to as “black water.” Category 3 water can include all kinds of contaminants such as gasoline, oils, sewage, other chemicals and harmful bacteria, salt (if you are on or near the ocean), etc. It is important that you not come in contact with this water or rebuild your home without first cleaning and treating all affected areas of the property that is not being removed or disposed of.

If flood waters touch it, is it damaged? Yes and no.

Any building components that absorbs water, building materials that cannot be cleaned, and electrical components are usually not salvageable. With respect to contents, simply put, don’t even attempt to clean category 3 water from clothing or soft goods because there are oils and chemicals that may never come out.

When should I start tearing out and disposing of things?

Do not remove anything from the home until you have taken an adequate number of photographs. When you believe that enough photos have been taken, take some more. This is the single most important task relating to contents coverage. First, take photographs of each room attempting to capture as much of the room as possible as is. Next take pictures of each item in each room where it sits, as well as an up close of the water line or visible water damage. Also make sure to open cabinets and photograph inside.

After you take photographs, be conservative when disposing of what you believe to be non-salvageable items. However, it is important to remove all non-salvageable contents, drywall, carpeting, insulation, etc., from the home as soon as you can once the flood water recedes. Leaving these items increases the risk of mold developing in the house. This can cause a HUGE problem as it can spread quickly and mold is not typically covered under a flood policy.

I cannot emphasize enough the impact of taking photos after a flood. The difference here is not just a few dollars. You risk full denial of contents if you don’t have photographs, including paper towels, toiletries, and socks. On these types of items, lay the items out and take close-up photos of each item. Considering the more expensive items like furniture, electronics, and appliances, be sure to take pictures including the brand, model number, and serial number. If there isn’t a brand, make sure the photo depicts the quality and any special features. These details will be the difference between the insurance adjuster accounting for a $400 washing machine or a $2,000 washing machine. Pictures are everything in a flood claim!

What is covered under my flood policy?

There are a lot of variables when it comes to the structure coverage – base flood elevation, the year the house was built or last renovated, flood zones, primary residency, basements, coinsurance, just to name a few. Assuming your house is properly insured, is your primary residence, has a slab foundation, does not have a basement, and is above the base flood elevation, you are basically covered for any structural item inside the exterior walls of the home.

It is necessary to purchase both building and contents coverage. The contents policy will cover most items inside the home or garage or any other anchored, fully enclosed building on the property, up to the contents policy limit. These do not include a swimming pool, fence, deck, barbeque grill, or trampoline.

Detached garages are covered, but only up to 10% of your structure policy limit and also falls within the structure limit of the policy, not in addition to. There is an exclusion of coverage if the detached garage includes an apartment above the garage, a bedroom in the back of the garage, or any other area that is used as living space. Flood policies also do not cover sheds or guest houses, unless separately insured.

Will my additional living expenses be covered?

Flood policies generally do not cover the costs of temporary living during the time that the property is uninhabitable. This can be the source of the most financial stress for most flood victims.

What can I expect from my adjuster meeting?

Assuming you get an experienced flood adjuster, they should inform you that they do not actually have any paying authority, but rather will make recommendations based on findings. A flood adjuster is the artist that will be painting the picture on what should be approved on the claim. If he is good at painting that picture, the claim should be approved based on those findings. A seasoned adjuster will typically have a certain way to conduct inspections. They will typically lead you room-by-room explaining what they are recommending and why (taking measurements, pictures, and thorough notes). You more than likely will not agree with everything they want to salvage, so be sure to take good notes on the items you are in disagreement.

What things will the adjuster disagree with?

These are the “hot topic” items. Items that typically get the most resistance from insurance adjusters include countertops, tile flooring, bathtubs, toilets, faucets, brick walls, wiring, windows, A/C units, hardwood furniture, and other expensive content items. Ask your insurance adjuster specifically about each of these items during your inspection and take notes.

How do I resolve these issues?

Assuming pictures have been taken of everything, resolving any issues could be much easier. However, it is important to hire an expert to document the areas you are disputing. Hiring a public adjuster to manage the entire claim for you is usually the best option.

How do I prepare my contents inventory?

On average, you can budget roughly 5 minutes per item to write up a thorough contents inventory. For each item, the adjuster will need the following information: location (room), description, brand/make, model number, serial number, age, condition, quantity, replacement price, and price verification (link to website to purchase item, original receipt, etc.). It is also a good idea to note which picture corresponds with each item on the inventory so that the insurance adjuster can easily find items.

Take the time to account for each and every item correctly and with as much detail as possible to insure the contents portion of the claim is paid quickly and undisputed. Remember that you are disposing of many of the non-salvageable contents once you have taken your pictures, therefore it is necessary to gather as much information as possible on each item. There is no going back once it is thrown into the pile on the curb.

Do I sign the proof of loss if I disagree with the adjuster?

Most seasoned flood adjusters or public adjusters will advise you to sign the proof of loss even if you are in disagreement because you are under a strict time limit to do so. You WILL NOT get paid until the signed proof of loss is submitted. Sign the proof of loss to receive payment on what the insurance adjuster has agreed (the undisputed amount). Then proceed by reopening the claim to request supplemental payment on the issues remaining in dispute.

How long will it be before I get my check?

Request an advance payment concerning both your building and contents coverages. Assuming there are no coverage issues to be determined, the adjuster should be able to get you an advance payment quickly.

Use the advance payments wisely because you most likely will not see another payment for months. Typically budget 3-4 months for the initial claim amount to be issued. Reopening the claim for supplementing the differences could add another few months. This is a normal flood claim and unfortunately there is nothing you can do to expedite the process.

I repaired my property, but what if it floods again?

There is coverage on everything which was replaced considering proof of replacement can be provided. If you had 3 feet of flood water in your home, the adjuster will not assume that you replaced the drywall, you will be required to provide proof. Therefore, it is important to keep good records of all receipts, as well as date-stamped photographs while repair and reconstruction is underway (in case you go back with items that are very similar to what you had originally). Store these documents in a safe place (or other location) so that the next incident doesn’t destroy these records).

Keep your head up.

Handling a flood claim is very stressful and the financial impact can be crippling if the claim is not managed properly. Keep your head up! Have a plan, stay organized, and surround yourself with good people who can guide you through this tragedy.

Click here for a copy of the National Flood Insurance Program Dwelling Form Standard Insurance Policy, October 2015.

http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1449522308118-6752c210f65aed326a9ddf4a0ddaca1f/F-122_Dwelling_SFIP_102015.pdf

— by Roy Young, PA

Shortage of Insurance Adjusters in Wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Hurricane season is at its peak and folks are still in recovery mode following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Now, there appears to be a shortage of insurance adjusters, especially in Florida where basically policyholders are having to wait because the insurance adjusters are all in Houston because Harvey was the first to hit.

Insurance companies are advertising for adjusters and trying to build up their rosters to cover the areas hit the hardest. Simply put, they are using anyone with a pulse to help out because of the high volume of claims being reported right now. Property owners are the ones who will be left on the short end of the stick as inspections are being performed by people who just don’t have the experience or expertise to properly inspect and estimate the claim. This leaves huge holes in the estimate, huge discrepancies in the claim value, and makes it even more important for the property owners to hire their own claim professional and have an expert on their side.

There are lots of numbers and terms to get through when trying to figure out how much your insurance company is going to pay for your storm damage. Many times, the age, whether it can be repaired, and/or possibly discontinued materials will lead to complete coverage of the damages. In the claim estimates, most discrepancies arise because there are covered components missing in the initial insurance estimate. While is it nice to get your insurance check and begin the repairs, don’t rush to the finish line!

Your insurance carrier has a claim professional representing them – do you? Even if the insurance adjuster is an independent third party, they were still contracted by and work for the insurance company. Insurance companies would further lead you to believe that you, the policyholder, must get your own estimates to help in the negotiation of the claim. You are not an expert. You should hire someone to represent your side in the claim negotiation process.

Don’t be a victim twice, seek professional help with your claim.

https://www.marketplace.org/2017/09/14/business/hurricanes-irma-and-harvey-are-causing-insurance-adjuster-shortage

 

Blue Tarp Law Taking Effect in Texas September 1, 2017

With the pounding South Texas has taken for days now thanks to Hurricane Harvey, people are asking how the Blue Tarp Bill (HB 1774), which goes into effect September 1, 2017, is going to impact these claims.

Consumers and business property owners need to be aware that written “notice” of a claim must be sent to the insurer prior to September 1, 2017 to take advantage of the existing 18% interest rate for unlawfully delayed claims. However, this applies to wind claims, not flood claims.

For a better explanation of the changes and how it may affect you or those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, see more at the following.

Hurricane Harvey Insurance Claims Misinformation

 

The Tell-Tale Signs You Need a Public Adjuster

I’m always telling people to choose their battles. Whether it comes to your kids or other family and friends (or even work), there’s no need to be the devil’s advocate all the time. When it comes to a property damage insurance claim, it can certainly turn into a battlefield and it’s no fun. However, this is a battle worth taking on and it’s important to know what to do to minimize your stress and maximize your claim settlement which means getting what you are owed under the terms of the policy.

In this situation, it is always best to have a licensed professional on your side, especially when you are battling with an insurance company. You have the right to bring in a licensed public adjuster to represent your side of the claim. Here are a few of the tell-tale signs that make it important to secure the services of a claim professional:

• Documenting the damages. Most property owners don’t have the experience to recognize property damage or what to look for besides the obvious. An insurance company has an entire team of claim professionals protecting their interest – shouldn’t you? A licensed public adjuster is your team. A public adjuster is trained in policy coverage and most have worked at one time or another for an insurance company and therefore know the business from the inside out. A claim can quickly turn complicated and it will become crucial to have a knowledgeable claim professional on your side.

Public Adjuster properly inspects and documents the claim for you.

• Terms of your coverage. Some agents don’t even fully understand the terminology used and scope of the coverage they are selling, so how on earth are you expected to. Even just the basic terminology used in a policy is confusing and causes a need for interpretation. A licensed public adjuster is trained to interpret the coverage for you and decipher the exclusions and endorsements. This can be key to determining whether there is coverage or not based on the peril causing the damages. A denial of coverage is bad news and certainly deserves a second opinion of a licensed professional who works for you the policyholder.

Public Adjuster does the estimating and negotiating for you.

• Who has time to deal with the claim process? You have a job and kiddos to run around. The last thing you need to add to your to-do list is an insurance claim. A licensed public adjuster does the work for you alleviating the stress and time from your plate. This is particularly valuable when you consider having to make yourself available for every adjuster meeting, inspection, and expert visit for viewing the property. The time it takes to document the claim and then navigate through the process is reason alone to hire someone to do it for you. This becomes especially certain when dealing with a fire or flood claim and having to put together an inventory of contents affected by the event.

Hail and wind damaged roof.

• Insurance company is working at a snail’s pace. A property damage claim can become a lengthy process when an insurance company drags its feet and keeps you hanging. This can be especially frustrating when your property is a wreck or at risk of additional damage because of exposure. A licensed public adjuster can be the force behind pushing the claim through at a more reasonable pace.

A beating heart is the tell-tale sign that a public adjuster is needed when it comes to property damage insurance claims – the indicator, signal or sign that conveys the status of a situation. You’re not alone and life is too short to spend it fighting battles. Contact a licensed claim professional to evaluate your claim and help protect your most valuable assets.

Why Would a Roofer Say Don’t Hire a Public Adjuster?

Often we have a potential client call after they have visited with their insurance agent or maybe even their contractor or roofer. They question us specifically on why to hire a public adjuster. Usually this means they have already been told by one of the foregoing not to hire a public adjuster. Let’s just say that, in our opinion, if someone is telling you not to hire a public adjuster, then most likely that person views them as a nuisance to their work or has maybe had a bad experience in the past with one. Either way, there is a motive for this suggestion and, like any other profession, there are good ones and bad ones.

What you need to know is that a public adjuster is required to be licensed by the department of insurance in each of the states they work. The job of the public adjuster is to conduct a thorough inspection of the damages and to put together an estimate that fully encompasses the scope and costs of all repair. They are also going to do their best to protect you from any unnecessary costs that might be suggested by the insurance adjuster. Having someone who works exclusively for you also means that you have a licensed professional to manage and negotiate the claim start to finish, relieving you of much time and stress in a process that you have little or no experience with.

A licensed public adjuster also knows there is much more to hail damage than just your roof — windows, gutters, vents, siding, etc. Specifically, a roofer is most likely going to be advising you about just the roof and absolutely is not licensed to negotiate your claim with the insurance company and in fact is barred by law from doing so. A public adjuster is trained in policy coverage and knows the tricks of the trade. They most likely have previous experience working for an insurance company and know the business from the inside out.

The insurance claim process is not a fun one for sure. Just another reason for you to reach out to a licensed public adjuster in your area or another qualified claim professional and get the answers you need to get the settlement you deserve.

Storm Damaged South Suffers Weekend Full of Devastating Tornadoes

The death toll continues to climb as we emerge from a weekend filled with severe weather and tornadoes. From Mississippi to Georgia, storms pounded the area with heavy rain, high winds, and one of the worst tornado outbreaks seen. A state of emergency has been issued in Georgia and Mississippi as authorities report at least 15 deaths in Georgia alone.

weather.com – severe storms hit Georgia

Florida apparently was not spared from the devastation as tornado rips through Palm Beach damaging school district and other properties. The homes and properties there are generally built to sustain hurricane force winds, but that didn’t protect them from these severe storms.

wptv.com – schools closed in Palm Beach neighborhood

If you find yourself in a situation like this, there is help. Find a public adjuster or other claim professional near you to handle your insurance claim. You have enough to worry about without the added burden of insurance.

Winter Weather Causes Property Damage – Hire a Public Adjuster

Cold weather is a bully and it will seriously expose the vulnerabilities in your home and launch its nasty attack. When extreme cold temperatures hit, so do the insurance claims. The cold weather can wreak havoc in the property insurance world because the claims that come in are usually spread throughout a very large portion of the country which means there is not a “pocket” of damage like we see when tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes or flooding occurs.

Winter’s cold weather claims naturally target homes that have a weaknesses and swallows them up as victims. This sounds like something from a horror movie but, if you think about it, this is true. When the extreme cold comes in, these deficiencies in your home become exploited and those vulnerable pieces are tested to the limits. The pipes that are not insulated well could freeze and burst, a small void in your fireplace might cause an ember to escape causing a fire, or it could be an electrical issue. Regardless of the weakness, old man winter is going to find it.

Here is a list of several areas that may be cause for concern:

• If you have plumbing in your attic or crawlspace, you need to make sure the pipes are adequately insulated.

• If the electrical system is not designed to handle the stress extreme cold causes, you may need an upgrade.

• If the home is not insulated well, additional areas of insulation may be a good idea.

These suggestions may be costly. Therefore, if you are unable to address them you may need to leave the water dripping, make sure your fireplace is functioning properly, and do your best not to stress the electrical components of the home.

Probably one of the biggest risks during winter storm season is the buildup from snow and ice. These perils are a threat to those big tree limbs overhanging the home which could break off causing major damage to the home. If you happen to escape winter this year without a limb falling on your house, consider yourself lucky and get those trees trimmed before the next storm season. You could also sustain damage from ice damning (buildup of ice accumulating at the bottom edge of roof). When the snow melts from the top, the damning causes a water back up under the shingles and into your home. Ice damns occur when the weather warms or heat from the attic space causes melting.

If old man winter does target you and cause damage to your home, you need to strongly consider using a public adjuster to comb through all damages and present this in the best possible way to your insurance company.  By design, this should increase your chances for a fair settlement.

In summary, if you live in an area where it tends to get a lot of snow accumulation, consult with a roofer to devise a plan that is right for your home to reduce the risk of ice buildup on your home. Your house can handle the cold bully as long as you know where it may attack.

by Roy Young, PA