The Property Insurance Claims Game – The Storm After the Storm Continues
by Charles R. Tutwiler on 7/12/2019
The Tampa Bay Times published an article in their editorial page this past week titled, “Stop Giving Hurricane Victims the Run Around” which in my humble opinion is well worth the time to read. For the most part I could not agree more with this commentary as we have seen this “run around” for years. Clearly history has shown us that when mass catastrophic events occur, one’s expectations are that significant confusion and chaos in the early weeks, especially when first responders are mobilizing to respond to life, health, and safety issues will be the rule.
I doubt too many folks would quarrel with the need to address human needs for shelter, food, water, and preservation of life and these should take precedent over insurance property mitigation and/or repair issues. But there comes a time when the folks who wrote the property insurance policies with all the legalese language need to really step up their game and finish their work.
To be fair, these folks have their own issues to deal with and remember their homes could be in the path of a storm. Plus they need to be on the road to fulfill their professional obligations. But with huge sea change that has taken place in the property and casualty industry over the last twenty or so years, you may not get the type of help you were expecting or promised as it relates to the insurance adjusting process. As an example, when I entered this industry, insurance companies were for the most part staffed with in-house career service type professionals. Today very few companies carry a staff adequate to handle the book of business they have. Instead loss adjusting is farmed out to independent adjusters whose firms have contracted with multiple clients scattered all across the country.
Remember Hurricane Harvey in Houston? Adjusters were pulled in from all across the country to assist with this huge flooding event. Then came Hurricanes Irma and Maria both of which impacted property throughout the Caribbean and the United States. The following year Hurricane Michael hit Panama City and the surrounding communities. With all this destruction and limited competent help on the ground, what you may get is the run around especially on the back end of the claims process. Why? Because loss adjusting is a complex process and there are often multiple causes of loss that occur in close proximity of time. Some covered and others excluded all of which have to be sorted out. But the good news (at least in Florida) is there are folks who are experienced and tested and can help. As the Tampa Bay Times article pointed out, Florida has more than its fair share of consumer advocates to help.
Finally, I do take exception to the article’s conclusion that these folks come at an additional cost to the policyholder. From my experience clients who retain quality and experienced help in most cases pay nothing out of pocket to get help settling their claim. The legal profession generally can negotiate their legal fees enough to cover their cost and the public adjusters most often are able to find not only missed scope items but argue cost issues that result in a far better settlement than offered by over worked and stressed insurance adjusters handling huge volumes of claims for multiple client insurance companies.
And remember, the public adjusting industry could not survive if they could not make their way economically. At Tutwiler & Associates we have been doing just that for over thirty-five (35) years, day-in-day-out, storm after storm and losses of every kind all across the country and in the Caribbean. This is what we do, and we do it well. Call around, check us out--we don’t just claim to be experienced, we are.
In closing, think you have seen it all, Nova PBS has a show called: Killer Hurricanes. The most recent episode includes the 2018 Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria storms. But the best part of the show is the science and research that is ongoing looking at historical events. Check out the facts this team of scientists have discovered about the great 1780 Caribbean hurricane as well as where it appears modern day hurricane tracks and where land falls are trending. Really thought provoking stuff! The show appears on Netflix and other cable platforms.
Let us know what you think of the current state of property claims in Florida. If you have questions regarding any property insurance related issue caused by Hurricane Michael please call 800-321-4488 or contact a licensed Florida Public Adjuster to submit a question to one of our insurance claim experts.