On December 1, 2012 something caught fire on the back balcony of this two story condominium complex located on Treasure Island, FL. resulting in fire, water, and smoke damage to the property. Immediately after the fire, the Condominium Board decided to hire a contractor to repair the damage. Normally, this is the typical procedure many COA’s take. However, in this claim, there were many others issues complicating the loss, which the contractor could not legally address. Specifically, there were many insurance claim adjusting issues with respect to the extent of the fire and smoke damage in addition to Law & Ordinance & Code Upgrade requirements the were being enforced by the county building department. Pursuant to the Florida SB408 (Chapter 2011-39) there are provisions that strictly prohibits contractors from adjusting insurance claims unless the contractor also holds a public adjuster license. However, the new law also prevents contractors holding a public adjuster license from doing any type of reconstruction, repair, or restoration of damaged property on the same loss, since it would represents a clear conflict of interest.
This new law set the stage for what became a very interesting claim and the insurance company decided to hire an attorney to look into the claim itself and the “Assignment of Benefits” the Board of Directors signed with their contractor.
In addition to the above, the attorney requested the Board of Directors file a “Proof of Loss” form, which is often standard procedure for insurance companies who are looking for any type of fraud.
Shortly thereafter, the Board of Directors realized how complicated the situation had become and decided to interview a few local public adjusters. Mr. Rick Tutwiler was retained to handle the claim and quickly prepared a claim package within the 60 day time limit required of the Proof of Loss.
Working closely with the attorney hired by the insurance company, Mr. Tutwiler was able to able to successfully negotiate a “New Money” confidential settlement that was satisfactory to all involved.
According to Mr. Tutwiler, “A key lesson for all Condominium Associates is that letting the public adjuster and contractor play their proper roles in the insurance claims process makes a strong partnership that will ultimately serve the client best. Given that insurance adjusting practices and procedures are fact specific to a loss and the coverage that's in place, we urge all parties not to put their claim in jeopardy. Attempting to adjust or negotiate a claim could ultimately be a detriment to you if you don't know the rules.” Also: Never sign an “Assignment of Benefits” contract without having it being reviewed by an attorney or consulting with a public adjuster.