If you have come to this page because you have experienced a loss to your property, we sincerely extend our best wishes and hope you understand that other people who have similar losses have made positive recoveries. For many years the associates in our firm have listened to the countless stories about the suffering and pain many families have had to endure following a loss to their family home. As most agree, a home is a safe haven where a lifetime of memories are kept and shared. Whether it’s a personal residence, vacation property, or retirement home, the aftermath of a loss and the ensuing insurance claim process can be one of the most stressful and overwhelming undertakings one has ever had to deal with. Hopefully, the following explanation of handling a homeowner property insurance claim will help you understand some of the pitfalls that can occur.
Following a loss, one of the most important things to do, is to take a step back, gather your emotions, and create a plan of action. During this very chaotic time, there may be many contractors and restoration companies attempting to contact you in order to perform the repair work. If this particular situation is not managed properly you could end up compromising your claim. For example, if you have suffered a loss and then signed a “work authorization form” with a restoration company that your insurance company has not agreed to pay for, you may end up paying a huge bill out of your own pocket. Also, if you disagree with the work the restoration company has performed and elect not to pay it, they may decide to place a lien on your home. Just from this one example, you can see the pitfalls that can occur from simply signing a work authorization.
Many insurance policies state that you have a duty to “mitigate” your loss. What does mitigation mean? Mitigation means that you must take every “reasonable” step to protect and prevent your property from suffering further damage. Therefore, it is extremely important that your insurance carrier agree to pay for any and all emergency work completed by a restoration contractor and that you get that agreement in writing.
The next part of the claims process entails the insurance company who typically hires their team of experts (working on their behalf) to inspect your property and investigate the facts of your loss. This is of great concern, as they are investigating your loss without any insight from a professional representative who has your best interests in mind. Although this may be confusing, your policy states that “you have a duty to cooperate.” If you are unfamiliar with how to answer their specific questions or are not careful with how you state the facts surrounding the events of your claim, much of what you say and how you say it can and may be used against you should a property claim dispute arise.
Hiring a public adjuster from the onset of your loss is the best decision you can make as their ultimate goal is to negotiate the best possible settlement as quickly as possible so you can begin the repairs or replacement of your property. An insurance claim is very unique in that every loss is different in its own specific way making it impossible for someone to learn the process overnight from reading a book or surfing the web. For a small percentage of the claim settlement amount, a professional public adjuster will work diligently on your behalf to adjust your insurance claim with all the necessary supporting documentation of the facts required to substantiate your claim.
A good public adjuster becomes a partner with you working on your team. Their job is to tackle all the challenges the insurance carrier will bring to the table. One of the common questions policyholders ask us as public adjusters is if hiring a public adjuster will alienate them from their insurance company? The answer is no. Your policy states that the burden of proving your damages is yours to bear. They call it a burden for a reason. Having a public adjuster on your team who has a strong reputation within the industry not only gives you credibility with your insurance company, but it also helps the insurance company adjuster do his job to expedite the claim process and payment.
Upon hiring a public adjuster, they will quickly notify the insurance company and immediately request a certified copy of your policy to determine what applicable policy provisions and conditions apply and assess the coverages related to your specific claim. They will then have an accurate picture of how to pool all the available resources to accurately assess the loss and damages.
One of the best tips we would offer someone who has experienced a property loss is to recover their money first and then, knowing how much money you have to work with, ask preferred contractors that you control and are comfortable with to provide a bid on the job without them knowing how much money you have. Then you can make a knowledgeable business decision. Additionally, you may not want to have the insurance company's preferred contractors do the work, as they will know what you have been paid. If a person elects to use the insurance company’s preferred vendor, be assured that no money will ever touch your hands. From their perspective, that’s just smart business.
For over 27 years homeowners and homeowner associations have turned to or referred their colleagues to Tutwiler and Associates. As experienced public adjusters, we understand the claims process and have all the resources to help you recover your claim. Our knowledge of the insurance policy, claims process and field experience have yielded us a longstanding positive reputation in the industry.
We pride ourselves on obtaining the maximum claims settlement under your policy provisions so you can be paid to recover as quickly as possible. If you would like help with your homeowner insurance claim and understand your options, give us a call at 813-412-8357 or contact us.