In the event of an insurance claim, you will need to speak to an insurance adjuster to establish the extent of the damage and to ensure you get the best settlement possible. In order to insure you receive an adequate settlement it’s vital you understand what the function of an insurance adjuster truly is, whose interests they are working for and what you should say to them. In a home damage situation most South Florida homeowners believe that calling their home insurance agent is the only option they have available. However, homeowners have several different options. One is to call your insurance agent, the other and best option is to call a public insurance adjuster, and if things get really nasty, lawyer could be called.
Company Insurance adjusters are not working for you
A common misconception is that insurance adjusters are impartial investigators. They are not. They are not working for the state, and they are most certainly are not working for you. They work for the insurance company and they have just three priorities:
- To ensure your claim is not fraudulent
- To get you to settle for the lowest amount
- To get you to settle as quickly as possible
Understanding this is crucial when considering your interactions with them.
And the insurance company’s priorities are even simpler:
- To make money
They do this by winning as much business as they can, and then minimising their payouts for each insurance claim. Now, it’s only right adjusters protect their business from fraudulent claims, we would expect nothing less. But even when dealing with claims that are clearly legitimate, their agenda is to pay as little as they can get away with and are legally obliged to. What is fair and right doesn’t come into it. It’s nothing personal- these are companies and corporations. They have targets to hit and shareholders to satisfy. Their very jobs depend on it. Emotions and the notion of right or wrong doesn’t always enter the equation, only their bottom-line and balance sheet. Sure the company advertising campaigns you view on TV are designed to show compassion for those who have suffered home damage, but that is the sales department talking.
Beware of the friendly face
In the aftermath of a traumatic event such as a hurricane, or a flood the upset and shocked homeowner is not thinking as clearly as usual. This is understandable, people generally want their life back to normal. Living in a home with mold or water damage is a temporarily life changing event. You may even be in a state of shock. The first call is often to your insurance agent, who will then send an insurance adjuster. In the case of the more experienced or knowledgeable home and property owners, their first call is to a public insurance adjuster. More on public adjusters later in this article. Not long after you call your insurance agent is when you will be contacted by the insurance adjuster. It may even be hours after, when you are still shaken and haven’t fully processed what has happened.
Most company insurance adjusters are skilled manipulators, and their aim is to fish for certain information- about the damages and the circumstances around them. They also have the unique tendency to over look parts of home damage that may cause problems down the line. One popular saying about company insurance adjusters is, if you can’t see it, it never happened. For example, a broken pipe that floods a laundry room could be repaired and the wet floor dried. Unless you test for moisture behind the walls, you will never see it. Does that mean it doesn’t exist? Many of the calls we receive are the result of overlooked water damage. Did you know it only takes 24-48 hours for moisture to activate mold spores and start mold growing?
The friendly demeanour of your insurance agent and company adjuster is designed to make you think that they are on your side, that it is your interests they are serving. They don’t want you to hire a public adjuster their aim is to make you think you don’t need one, that you have them in your corner. Thankfully, now you know better.
They will try to low-ball you with their offer
This one is common sense but still something to keep in mind. Usually when a homeowner receives a first offer WILL NOT be the best. Again, they are using human nature against you. Your instinct may be to take the money: less hassle, a quicker payout. Which is precisely what they want. Precisely what they bank on happening a significant percentage of the time. As a home owner it’s up to you to determine just how much it is going to cost to repair your home damage, and insure that the original damage doesn’t create an opportunity for future damage. However, a public adjuster, knows the industry and also knows how one type of home damage could have an effect on another part of the home. When it comes to water damage, mold growth, plumbing leaks, often everything is connected. This is one of the best reasons why you should consider hiring a public adjuster. As a Public Adjuster in South Florida we are experts at assessing the total cost and determining what needs to be done to prevent future damage.
- Know your policy and claim
First off, review your policy to ensure that this low offer is actually factoring in all the damage covered by the policy. There may be an oversight on the insurers behalf, or even as aspect of the damages you accidentally left out from the claim you submitted. The onus is on you here to ensure everything you need repaired or replaced is in your claim when it is assessed.
- Properly document your pre-loss conditions
When an insurance adjuster visits your home, they will try to determine the extent of the damage. This means the damage that occurred from whatever caused the damage claim. What the insurance adjuster will attempt to do is separate what was recently damaged from what has been damaged in the past. For example, if the home’s roof was damaged before the storm hit, and the recent storm caused more damage then a company insurance adjuster could say, we are not covering this.
One of the best ways to document pre-loss conditions is to take pictures well before the damage happens. Every homeowner should have pictures of their home’s walls, roof inside walls just in case of they need to file a claim.
Make a document here:
Properly document any costs you accrued as a result of the damage.
It is your right to have these costs recouped in full, to your pre-loss condition, as per the terms of your agreement. Be diligent to in keeping the relevant paperwork to ensure you get what you are owed, and not a cent less.
We have found that homeowners are most vulnerable to the tactics of underhanded insurance adjusters when they are in an agitated or in a frustrated state of mind. Having your roof damaged, flooded floors or water damages walls is enough to make anyone beyond upset. This is when most homeowners just want everything put back to normal. When the company insurance adjuster arrives many homeowners feel like they have been saved. However, it needs to made made clear that, this may not be the case. Check out these links to some of these tactics underhanded insurance adjusters try to reduce the homeowner’s payout and save their company money.
So, what is the solution? As a homeowner, do you really want to spend your time worrying about your home’s damage claim? Do you really want to spend your time second guessing what underhanded tactics your insurance company adjuster is up to? By calling a public adjuster you can save time, and worry knowing that your insurance adjuster is on your side and not looking out for your insurance company’s bottom line.
Learn more about public adjusters here:
you are now much better placed about what to say when the worst happens and you are approached by that friendly face.