Claim Adjuster Shortage and Inexperienced Insurance Adjusters Will Cause Major Problems for Hurricane Irma Policyholders
Various media outlets have been publishing articles (Florida is Short on Insurance Adjusters) (Hurricane Irma & Harvey causing Adjuster Shortage) on the shortage of insurance adjusters to handle the volume of claims that are being reported to both the government (FEMA) and the private sector insurance carriers. For those of us in the business we knew this was coming. It was only a matter of time.
As background, I can recall some years back talking with the then Senior Claims Director for NFIP at a conference about this very issue and we both agreed the shortage of trained skilled loss adjusters would cause great harm to folks trying to recovery from multiple catastrophic disasters in different sections of the country. Well, that time is now and we are not even talking about the training and experience of the folks that will be taking the field on behalf of the insurers. As an example, I was sent an ad last week where an independent adjusting firm was trying to recruit adjusters with no experience. The ad stated they would be given “a class” which to me sounded like a one day course and they only had to have a laptop, ladder and vehicle and off they would go to make lots of money. Isn’t it interesting that up until this year public insurance adjusters were required by the State of Florida to serve a 1 year apprenticeship under the supervision of a licensed adjuster before being allowed to adjust, provide advice or even solicit a claim. Just this year that provision was reduced to 6 months. Let me ask you, who would you want to be adjusting and valuing your claim?
Then I read where the State of Florida is going to reduce requirements to get licensed to be an adjuster. Then there was the multimillion dollar case I had some years back in the Florida Panhandled where the adjuster for the insurance company was repairing used refrigerators before getting the call to head out on this big new assignment.
For you folks in the Keys, Naples and anywhere damage occurred from Hurricane Irma, beware of adjusters showing up and relying on what they tell you. Remember, most of these field adjusters have no authority and are only information gathers. And beware that a lot of them will simply be there to earn a payment for an initial inspection and then turn the file in for reassignment. This happens a lot especially where the cost of lodging etc. is prohibitively high such as in the Keys.
So, if you have suffered damages pay very close attention to what the adjuster tells you. The first days following a loss as well as the first meeting with an insurance adjuster are critical. Get the adjuster’s business cards, write the date the person was there. Find out what firm they are from and how long they have been adjusting, since many insurance carriers use adjusters who are independent contractors. Photograph everything.
Write down any information about your claim provided by the adjuster and if possible get them to send you a confirmation or confirm what was discussed and send it back to the person via email. Take nothing for granted. Ask questions and demand answers. If they will not commit or confirm, note the questions you asked and document that they would not respond. Protect yourself and your claim, be proactive.
I will be writing more on other issues that folks will likely be faced with but wanted to get this posted. As they say, this is not our first rodeo.
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.