Will Your Hurricane Irma Insurance Claim Offer be Sufficient to Cover Repair Estimates?
As policyholders begin to hear back from their insurance company, many will learn that the amount offered by their respective insurer is not sufficient to pay for their complete loss and damages. Some may even learn part of their claim is denied. Specifically, as the demand for qualified construction workers, roofers, and building materials increase, so do the associated costs. This “supply and demand effect” will undoubtedly continue to impact those who sustained damage in a negative way for some time.
This is common when there is widespread damage to a geographic area and especially true with more complicated commercial claims to businesses, condominiums and hotels where methods to fix or replace damage can become complicated. There can be many reasons for this including overworked adjusters not documenting specific damages, out of state adjusters not familiar with the market or inside claim adjusters who have never personally seen the claim simply denying certain parts of a claim.
An equally important cost related issue for property owners can be that prices given to them from local contractors are much higher than what the claim adjuster’s computer driven estimating system says the repair should cost. Policyholders should be aware of this and remember they do not need to accept a low offer from their insurer for repairs or contract with the services of an inferior contractor. Make sure fair market pricing is being used to price your insurance claim in lieu of the computer estimating programs that can be out of touch with actual market pricing.
Some insurance companies now have managed repair or preferred vendor programs where they have negotiated discounts for repair work. Well, that’s good for the insurance company since they can pay out less. And it’s good for the contractor since they get lots of guaranteed work. But is it in the best interest for the policyholder? Your insurance contract is supposed to make you whole and put your property back to the condition it was before the storm. Folks just need to make sure they get independent quotes and make sure they are comfortable with the materials that will be used and the workmanship.
In addition, policyholders should never sign their claim monies over to a contractor who has an assignment of benefit clause in their contract. To ensure a positive insurance claim experience and recovery, make certain that your contractor and the adjuster working for the insurance company are in agreement with all the reconstruction plans and get those agreements and costs in writing. You should have a “claim file” set-up with all relevant correspondence letters, e-mails, building damage estimates, personal property losses, and business property damage fully documented. This will help to ensure that your insurance claim is managed efficiently and will be especially helpful if the catastrophe (CAT) adjuster leaves to return back home and you are assigned a new adjuster, which happens more than you might imagine in these widespread damage areas.
If you do not understand any aspect of your insurance policy or do not know the limits as it relates to what you should be entitled to, you always have the option to challenge the claim offer by hiring a public adjuster to review and document your claim. Many licensed public adjusters such as ours, offer free claim reviews.
If you have any questions concerning your Hurricane Irma insurance claim, please submit a question to one of our insurance claim experts. As always, the professional public insurance adjusters at Tutwiler and Associates are here to help with any questions you may have.