Thousands of Texas businesses were adversely affected by the devastation left behind by Hurricane Ike, which reached Galveston and Houston, Texas on September 13, 2008 and is known as the most costly weather catastrophe in State history, accounting for more than $12 billion in insurance claims. During the storm, a tornado spun-off and ripped off a large portion of the roof on this Class A office building that also housed a busy inpatient surgery center. In addition to the roof damage, rain water poured into every single office throughout the entire building, displacing all the tenants for many months. Some never returned.
The building owner who resided in Virginia knew he needed the assistance of a professional public adjuster to help him and his property management company, CB Richard Ellis with the insurance claim process. He researched diligently and called around for references. Finally, the owner spoke to public adjuster, Rick Tutwiler who was already in the Houston area working claims. The owner quickly realized Mr. Tutwiler was a perfect fit for the team and immediately hired him.
Mr. Tutwiler came onto the scene and quickly took control of the situation, starting with a detailed review and assessment of the emergency mitigation efforts, compilation of the rent rolls, coordination of structural engineers, building estimators, and coordination of the multiple on-site meetings and inspections that needed to take place with the multiple representatives that were being sent out by the insurance company. Mr. Tutwiler knew exactly what needed to be done to get the claim off to a good start.
In addition to the above, Mr. Tutwiler also worked with CB Richard Ellis and their property management team. Fortunately, this property owner was extremely sophisticated as he also employed a Risk Manager who welcomed the opportunity to work with Tutwiler and Associates Public Adjusters because he knew that at the end of the day the building owner would be taken care of. After much work, the stage was set for a win-win result.
This circumstance was very unique because in the past, we have seen many risk managers try to handle complex property insurance claims on their own. While handling property losses and insurance claims is not part of a risk manager’s daily job description, they often try to do it to satisfy the client. Risk managers have become a critical a critical function for a company’s survival. Specifically, risk analysis is about identifying the “perils” that an organization might be exposed to and then placing the proper type and amount of insurance coverage to cover for any potential losses from those perils.
Insurance products are designed to cover a risk or series of risks either in the form of standard industry “All Risk” policies (subject to the exclusions) or “manuscript” type policies that are written in a specific manner to cover an insureds “unique” exposure. In both cases, either an in-house (staff employee) or an outside risk manager is charged with the responsibility of determining the necessary insurance coverage to cover the risk or provide advice on the recommended financial funds that need to be set aside to cover an expected loss. This function is a very big responsibility requiring a great deal of expertise and training.
Based on the loss adjusting experience of Tutwiler & Associates Public Adjusters, we have found that a company's risk manager benefits greatly from bringing in a trained and experienced professional public adjusting firm to help adjust the losses based on the coverage that the risk manager has placed for their principal. As always, each property loss is different and each will have its own unique set of facts and issues. Therefore, proper claims management of a loss is critical to the outcome.
Regarding this property damage claim, the insurance company and their hired experts calculated the loss to be just under $850,000 after application of the hurricane deductible. On the other hand, Tutwiler and Associates assembled their assessment of the loss and damage and with the help of supporting documentation and much negotiation were successfully able to secure a settlement that exceed $3,200,000 dollars.
The Tutwiler team works very well with risk managers from all over the country in a wide variety of losses and issues. We understand the value risk managers bring to the table as they carry all the necessary background information on the owner’s operations and insurance coverage. So it makes sound business sense to work in conjunction with the risk manager to help apply the facts of a specific loss to help with the claim process.
The practice and procedures of insurance adjusting undoubtedly vary from one location to the next. Court decisions as well as rules and regulations issued by various State departments of insurance will often impact how an adjustment of a loss should be conducted. Tutwiler & Associates makes this information and experience available to all risk managers with the common goal of helping the mutual client should a loss arise.