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Yes, you can sign a contract to retain our firm. A previous law that prevented Citizens policyholders from hiring a public adjuster has been repealed. Our feeling is that the sonner you do this the quicker we can begin to compile the facts of your claim in order to present them to Citizens in order get the fairest settlement. We find that mistakes made early in claim process can have an adverse impact on the final outcome or denial of the claim.
There are many technical factors that can change the value of an insurance claim. One example is a change Citizens made in the way they reimburse you for your claim. Previously Citizens paid policyholders on a Replacement Cost Value basis (RCV). This meant that you were replaced for the full value of replacing the damaged item, be it a roof, damage from water or storm damage. Now Citizens replaces your damage based on a depreciation/holdback method or Actual Cost Value (ACV) of your item. For example: This means that the will look at the age and condition of a damaged item, depreciate the value of the item based on what can be a subjective opinion and offer you that as your initial settlement until you complete your repairs. With certain types of losses (such as a fire) this differential can represent significant dollars lost to you and require you to be personally out of pocket to fix repairs. The ACV value can be challenged with the right facts and documentation. The Public Adjusters expertise in understanding how depreciation/holdback works and ability to negotiate those values in your best interest is one area where having professional representation benefits you.
Depending on the type of loss you have, there are many gray areas where valuation and coverage issues can significantly impact your final settlement value. For example; building code issues and something called Law & Ordinance coverage (bringing your repairs up to current building code standards) can impact what it will take to make you whole. Understanding the complexities of insurance policies is why we think you should have an advocate on your side to look out for your best interest.
Many of these adjusters work for independent adjusting firms that are under contract with Citizens to estimate the claims. Their goal is to settle the claim as quickly as possible for what they want to pay you.
Florida State law prohibits a licensed contractor or subcontractor from adjusting and negotiating an insurance claim on your behalf unless they are also licensed as a PA. And then, they can only do one or the other; adjust your claim or do the repairs. Contractors should only be estimating the cost of making repairs. We would even go so far and say to beware of any contractor who asks to see your insurance policy or your coverage limits. This is a red flag and they may just be looking to see how much they can charge you. Contractors are not trained nor are they licensed experts in interpreting policy language. Contractors sometimes see public adjusters as getting in the way of them getting their money quickly. In fact, if we work as a team, we can all get a proper settlement for the policyholder and the right amount of money to make proper repairs. If you are in a situation where your home needs emergency repairs, let a contractor do those repairs only. Do not sign over your claim to a contractor until you understand what the insurance company will cover.
Keep meticulous records of all conversations and promises. You can also ask for an advance to help you start repairs. A public adjuster can offer you guidance in how you initially handle your claim in order to avoid settlement disputes. What you do and even what you say early in the claims process can impact your claim. We also recommend you obtain repair estimates from your own licensed contractor to insure quality repair. Never sign over your claim to a contractor or be pressured into using the insurance company’s contractor who may have bargained for a low repair rate.
We would not recommend this. If your settlement check contains any kind of release language on the check do not cash it unless you fully understand the ramifications of what you are signing. You may be giving up certain legal rights and should consult an attorney. Call our office and we can recommend attorneys who specialize in this area of the law.
1. You can accept the offer.
2. If you feel the offer does not fairly compensate you for your loss or allow you to adequately repair your damage you can hire a public adjuster to conduct a review of your offer and represent you. You could also call a qualified attorney, complain to your insurance agent or the Insurance Consumer Advocate, and even seek State mandated mediation. Understand that recovering additional settlement money will require proper valuation documentation in any of these circumstances.
If you call Tutwiler & Associates and we are able to determine your offer is inadequate, you can contract with us to rewrite the repair estimate, reassess your personal property damage, resubmit the claim and negotiate your settlement. Besides handling the claim negotiations and follow-up with the insurance company, we will also recommend and coordinate trusted resources that will expedite the repair process, coordinate inspection meetings and handle any additional documentation the insurance company requires.