Hurricane Ian Homeowners No Match for Unethical Claim Practices. Public Adjuster Attains 1,101% New Money Settlement Hours Before Hiring Attorney
As numerous clients are in various stages of repairs their Hurricane Ian damaged properties, we would like to share one success story that underscores the invaluable role experienced public adjusters can play contributing to the stability of Florida's challenging insurance market.
First, let’s look at an example of what has brought policyholders, claim professionals, state officials, and insurance executives to this point of frustration.
Following Hurricane Ian’s devastation in Florida, Fort Myers homeowners, Matt and Teresa Hall were among many businesses and homeowners calling our firm at every chance when they had cell service. These folks remembered us from Hurricane Charley in 2004, after our public adjusters facilitated successful insurance claim outcomes for clients throughout Port Charlotte, North Captiva and Sanibel Islands. The policyholders wanted to know when we were going to deploy a team in their area and we assured them that our adjusters would be there to help, but were being mindful not to deploy adjusters too soon or interfere with critical recovery efforts taking place by emergency responders. More than anything, we brought peace of mind to the Hall’s and others in weeks after Hurricane Ian that they would see an adjuster. In turn, these property owners were bringing us status updates on conditions in the area.
One moment that created a great deal of confusion for Ian victims who were disconnected from the outside news and world media covering Florida was the narrative and negative campaigning regarding the use of public adjusters. This wreaked havoc on property owners’ trust of public adjusters and consequently many just went without help. In our opinion the property owners were misled by public servants misusing their public platform to paint a broad brush mistrust of adjusters and contractors. While our firm is no stranger to this behavior, our clients saw droves of insurance company adjusters arriving from other states, often without business cards and licenses. These catastrophe adjusters were also arriving and demanding homeowners sign forms and affidavits. In the case of Matt and Teresa Hall, their adjuster arrived from Texas and quickly made things difficult and complicated their recovery in the claims process. The Halls were unable to access their insurance company’s claim portal due to no cell service, could not get copies of their policy and found no one point person to turn too given the many desk adjusters who were assigned to their claim. They soon learned their insurance company processed a final settlement check for $5,898 and quickly closed their claim.
Fed-up, angry and confused, the Halls brought in Tutwiler & Associates. Our firm is usually good at turning things around but found it incredibly difficult because our emails were getting kicked back from the insurance company portal. We reopened the claim and set about documenting the damage, something we would have expected the insurance company adjuster to do. This was such an extreme case of policyholder neglect and poor customer service that a local news station picked up on the Halls story Hurricane Ian victims struggling with insurance claim payouts seek help from public adjusters . Soon after, our firm scheduled a second on-site inspection with an independent adjuster who was reassigned by the insurance company. Checks were approved to be paid, although there were many issues with mortgage companies not accepting checks that included public adjuster names on them (Another issue the Fl legislature could address in insurance reform. On the day the Halls were planning to speak with an attorney, our firm got notice that the Halls insurance company would be issuing checks totaling $70,895 that they could cash and immediately have access to funds. Our firm then completed the Halls inventory to process and resolve their flood claim for an additional $164,574 putting them on the road to recovery.
So, this is a good testament to the value public adjusters bring to the claims process. We would hope that in the next storm, public officials refrain from vilifying a group of experienced adjusters that are licensed by the state and instead look upon this group as a resource that can help property owners expedite their claim while avoiding the litigation that can come with frustrated and angry policyholders.