Claim Adjuster Shortage and Inexperienced Insurance Adjusters Will Create Claim Bottlenecks for Hurricane Florence Policyholders
by Charles R. Tutwiler on 9/28/2018
Due to the widespread, wind, flood and water damage caused by Hurricane Florence, there is likely to be a shortage of insurance adjusters to handle the volume of claims that will be reported to both the government (FEMA) and the private sector insurance carriers. For those of us in the business, we see it after every major storm. The rush to get damages assessed, by insurance company adjusters and the many inexperienced contractors eyeballing damages, will create impediments to solving policyholder claims.
Do not be surprised to see adjusters and contractors recommending partial repairs to roofs based on simple visual inspection. And I don’t want to even address those trying to inspect roofs with drones. This is going to cause terrible problems for policyholder roofs that don’t get properly inspected or repaired. Let’s just remember that Florence was a slow-moving storm that delivered high sustained winds for an extended period of time. Flying debris can damage the membrane of roofs and set people up for severe water damage in the future. Adjusters simply do not spend enough time assessing policyholders’ damages or taking into effect the increased cost of materials and repairs given the state of conditions. When the adjuster comes calling, please make sure inspectors physically get onto the roof and inspect for damage. While your roof may not look damaged, a closer inspection might reveal that it needs replacing rather than patching. When you get your roof repaired, make sure the contractor is licensed and has good references.
Now, let’s talk about flood. For those who are fortunate enough have a flood policy, make sure you understand the nuances and requirements of your flood policy. 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 recover from severe catastrophic disasters. 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. 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.
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 of 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, but above all 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.