On July 6, 2011 an electrical fire broke out in a rental property located in St. Petersburg, Florida. Major smoke damage ensued as well as water damage caused by the fire department extinguishing the fire. Since the condition of the dwelling made it uninhabitable, the tenants were forced to move out causing the property owner to sustain additional losses in rental income.
The insurance company, upon receiving notice of the claim, chose not to send out their field adjuster, but instead their in-house adjuster simply instructed the property owner to obtain three (3) separate repair estimates from local restoration contractors and they would pay an amount based on their review of the three estimates.
All estimates received by the property owner were in excess of $100,000 and within $7,500 dollars of each other. After submitting all three estimates to the insurance company, the in-house adjuster told the policyholder that the estimates were “inflated” and made the decision to assign a field adjuster to inspect the damage and write an estimate on behalf of the insurance company.
A few weeks later on August 3, 2011 the insurance company made a payment to its insured based on the estimate prepared by their field adjuster in the amount of $40,340.80 hoping the insured would accept the offer and find a contractor to do the work in a down economy.
This frustrated the property owners who immediately consulted with their attorney. Based on their attorney’s recommendation, public adjuster, Rick Tutwiler was hired to assist with the claim preparation and settlement negotiations. Mr. Tutwiler prepared a detailed claim package including his own damage repair estimate and submitted it to the insurance company who assigned a new field adjuster to the claim file.
In a short period of time, Mr. Tutwiler was able to quickly reach an agreement with the new field adjuster on the method and cost of repairs to the structure.
Mr. Tutwiler was also successful in negotiating the loss of rental income, which he made projections supporting the income that would be lost during the period of restoration. The claim settled for $120,000 representing a 198% increase or $79,659.20 in new money for the policyholder.
The insured stated: “next time something happens to one of our properties we are calling on your company first.”