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Check the details before accepting your Hurricane Irma claim settlement check

Check the details before accepting your Hurricane Irma claim settlement check

Property owners who were impacted by Hurricane Irma and filed a property insurance claim are starting to receive settlement offers from their insurance company.  Some are shocked at the settlement offer they receive. Sometimes our firm will be retained by a homeowner only to receive a call several weeks later to say the insurance company adjuster had called them with a verbal settlement offer they might be able to live with. Even though it’s outside of our contract cancellation date and work may have begun on the loss, we typically wish them well and thank them for their consideration in selecting our firm to assist them. That got me thinking about all the property insurance claim offers we’ve gotten over the many years assisting clients. 

As a public adjuster, I remembered a lesson I learned many years ago about verbal settlement offers.  Insurance company adjusters are trained to measure and price a loss. While this process can be highly subjective and subject to negotiations on a lot of different factors, the offer may not in fact be what you will get in the form of a check. What has to be factored into any property insurance claim is the policy terms and conditions. While a good reputable insurance company adjuster will disclose these policy provisions to you with the offer, others will not, just so they can get you to agree and perhaps sign a proof of loss or even worse a full release.

So before accepting an offer, ask if it is net of all policy terms and conditions. Ask about depreciation, co-insurance issues that may be applied to penalize you for being under insured and if deductibles were applied properly.  

Even if these policy terms and conditions are applicable, they may be subject to different interpretations and negotiations. As an example, does the deductible come off the loss or the covered loss?  If a co-insurance penalty is being applied, can accepting an actual cash value settlement (and thus having the co-insurance figured on the actual cash value of the property) reduce its effect? And remember that depreciation amounts are very subjective and negotiable.

Just remember that before you accept a final claim settlement offer, that you know the details of how the insurance company adjuster arrived at his/her figures. Ask that any offer made to you verbally be put in writing, so you can read and understand how the numbers were calculated. Once you cash that insurance check, some of your options may be gone.

If you have questions regarding any property insurance related issue caused by Hurricane Irma please call 800-321-4488 or contact a licensed Florida Public Adjuster to submit a question to one of our insurance claim experts.

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Total: 1 Comments
Caroline
  We had roof damage to our property and made a claim to Citizen. They sent an adjuster and sent back paperwork to say that we needed a replacement roof. They included and estimate on the cost of this work. I spoke with Citizen and asked them how they determined these costs. They agreed that I should obtain some estimates from reputable contractors and that I could submit these estimates for a replacement roof to them. I obtained 3 estimates and sent them via email. I heard nothing for several weeks so I called again and was told these estimates were not in a suitable format. I agreed the next step was to go back to the most cost effective contractor and ask them to provide the detailed-itemised estimate. I sent this to back to Citizen. The next day I received an email stating that Citizen would not pay for several items on the invoice. I contacted my Insurance Broker and requested his assistance. He has taken two months to get a further response from Citizen. The current situation is that Citizen have agreed to some further 'reasonable' cost and increased their offer, however I still face a difference of around $3500 between the estimate Citizen have agreed and the actual cost of the replacement roof. Citizen are also 'pushing' me to carry out the work to replace the roof within ^ months of my claim, however they are not willing to pay the cost of the most cost effective contractor less the $6000 deductible.
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