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Always examine the settlement check for language that might say something like: “Cashing this check constitutes full payment of your insurance claim.” If you are required to sign a release or this language is on your check, you should consult with an attorney to determine what rights you may be giving up by cashing the check or signing the release.
If you are not happy with the amount of your settlement, or you feel that damage was overlooked, a licensed public adjuster can help you properly document the additional damages so your insurance company pays what is really due under your policy.
To avoid having to go back for more money, make sure the insurance company’s adjuster explains his estimate to you in detail on the front-end so you understand what the insurance company is paying you for. If you don’t feel like it is enough to cover for the repair costs, you have the right to ask for a reinspection to go over the outstanding issues. If the issues still do not get resolved consider contacting a public adjuster.
Take as many photographs of personal property/business inventory as possible! This evidence will help your claim to ensure you are paid for those items. On more expensive items such as electronics, write down model and serial numbers.
Pre-existing damage is the term often used by insurance company adjusters when there is questionable damage that may not be related to a covered cause of loss. The burden of proving otherwise falls on the policyholder. Other disputes such as wear and tear often create issues and is a situation that comes up quite often. Using the expertise of a public adjuster to help you prove that your claim damage is tornado related may impact the success of your claim.
During catastrophic events like tornadoes, the damage is so extensive that many times insurance company adjusters are flown in from out of state. They are tasked with doing as many inspections as possible in a day and many times do not spend adequate time investigating the insurance loss, preventing the policyholder from collecting what they should. Additional damages always arise during the course of a claim investigation. The more time that is spent investigating and estimating the loss, the better. Multiple inspections of the damage is a key to ensure a thorough investigation is completed so you are paid the full amount of the loss. We believe this is one of the advantages of hiring a public adjuster is that we offer a more thorough investigation.
In disaster situations many out of state companies set up shop and solicit business in the damaged areas. Check to see if they are licensed, bonded, and insured. This holds true for those claiming to be claims adjusters also. Make sure not to sign your insurance settlement proceeds over to them. Collect your settlement money first and then get bids and estimates from the contractors. This puts you in the driver seat so you are the one controlling your money, not someone else. Don’t sign your insurance claim over to anyone or let a contractor tell you they will work things out with the insurance company. More often than not they may be pocketing money meant to fix your property.
Typically a public insurance adjuster is paid on a contingency fee basis meaning they take a small percentage of the insurance claim settlement that they are able to collect for you. Studies have shown that policyholders with public adjuster representation tend to collect more than those who do not have a public adjuster representing their best interest. Most insurance company adjusters with tell you they like working with public adjusters as they understand the claims process, which in turn will expedite the settlement.
Check your policy to see if you have law and ordinance coverage.
Take notes and pictures of everything that was damaged. When the adjuster arrives go through the list and make sure the adjuster acknowledges the damages and agrees to pay for each item. Then get it in writing.
- Ask them their thoughts about your loss and get them to explain their opinion of how to repair the damage aka “method of repair”
- Ask how values and prices are determined. Many use estimating software that has predetermined pricing, which may not be enough if the cost of materials increases due to increased demand for building materials in your area.
- Ask when you get paid and don’t be afraid to ask for an advanced payment.
- Ask them to come back to explain their estimate to you.
- Ask for their E-mail or address so you can keep up with written communication. Many times adjusters are flown in from out of state. They write up estimates, submit them to the main claims office and they are gone.
Make sure to do a thorough interior and exterior evaluation of your home to help you determine the severity of your damage. If there is something you do not understand call an expert who does. This will help expedite the claims process so you can return your home or place of business to pre-storm condition as quickly as possible! If there are other more important life and family issues you need to take care of or if you are feeling uneasy about handling the claim properly, the services of a public insurance claims adjuster may be worth it.