Hurricane Dorian Should be a Wake-up Call to All
by Rick Tutwiler on 9/3/2019
Our hearts and prayers go out to all those impacted by Hurricane Dorian. Preliminary reports indicate 13,000 structures destroyed and $25 billion in damage, not to mention the catastrophic flooding. As I’ve listened to all the anxious questions from callers concerned about Dorian and conferred with our Florida Public Adjuster professionals, one common theme prevailed.
The property insurance claims industry has some major problems and the situation appears (at least to us) to only be getting worse. This is not good for policyholder consumers should they ever sustain property damage to their home or business.
I was at the bank on Friday endorsing checks over to our clients that we negotiated settlements for who survived Hurricane Michael (almost a year ago now). For some, these were the first checks they received! For countless others who call our office each day, they have not seen a dime and/or have received denial letters.
So it goes without saying, that survival after the storm may be more difficult than actually surviving the storm itself.
The good ‘ol days where carrier insurance adjusters had the proper authority to resolve claims on the spot are over and the seasoned veterans are either quitting altogether, retiring early, or submitting resumes to work for public adjusting firms who they used to refer to as the “dark side.” This year alone, our firm has hired a handful of these seasoned vets with carrier backgrounds some of who were General Adjusters. And the resumes keep coming. Lawyers that used to defend insurance carriers are also making the switch.
Florida is not out of the woods yet as we are still in the peak of hurricane season, but now is the time to review that dreaded insurance policy that probably has not been opened since you paid the premium. I met with a prominent person this week who had an incident and when I reviewed his Policy, he had NO coverage for the building structure and was grossly underinsured maybe in the millions for all the equipment and business property, which was a major surprise! So, call your agent now and request a “Certified & True Copy of your Insurance Policy to include ALL Forms & Endorsements.” Read the Policy and if you do not understand something, call your agent and have a discussion. I cannot stress enough how many people find out they are underinsured or not insured at all, but when they find out it is too late.
Hurricane Dorian should serve as a wake-up call for everyone everywhere. There are so many people that call our office every day during the week requesting help with their insurance claims. I do not say this to gloat or brag, I say this because it is truly a shame because there are simply not enough hours in the day to help everyone.
Just because you have “paid your insurance premiums on-time for 30 years,” or “never filed a claim” it means absolutely nothing. Just ask our clients who thought they could handle their own claim, but never received an e-mail response back, or a couple that is about to have their second child, with no home to return to and living in someone’s bedroom, or my client who is getting married in 2 weeks that is still waiting on checks when the claim was resolved weeks ago and the contractor is walking away from the job, or the client who’s kids are sick and the insurance company said “sue us,” or the business who filed a claim where the insurance company turned around and filed a lawsuit suit on their own policyholder because they would not accept a minimal global settlement offer, or the people who thought they had hurricane coverage only to receive claim denial the very next week as if the letters were pre-written.
Listen, we all know it takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch. We have good friends who work or represent insurance companies who are honest and want to do the right thing. At the same time, I also understand there are people on my side of fence who are not so ethical and try to take advantage.
In the end, it is the good citizens of our State that pay their hard earned dollars to pay their insurance premiums and we want to be sure they are getting exactly what they are paying for. Hopefully they will never have to file an insurance claim, but sometimes it is only a matter of time.
If your property gets impacted by a hurricane, be prepared to survive on your own financially for at least 6-8 months.
If you have questions regarding a Hurricane Harvey property insurance claim please call 800.321.4488 or contact us to submit a question to one of our public adjuster insurance claim experts.