Understanding the “Large Loss” property insurance claim process can be extremely complex even for the most savvy business professional, corporate attorney or risk manager. Every large loss insurance claim has its own unique set of circumstances and a variety of issues that need to be addressed. Businesses have layers of insurance coverage to sort out. Large residential losses may need to consider custom materials and architectural treatments, not to mention valuable collectibles and personal belongings. Make no mistake, handling this type of claim is extremely time consuming, especially if all the issues are addressed properly. Large loss claims even present extreme challenges for the insurance company and their representative experts, adjusters, and loss consultants. That’s why it helps to add a large loss public adjuster with experience and resources to your team.
If you have never been through a large insurance claim before, the insurance company will attempt to take control of your claim and the result may not be to your satisfaction. When you hire a public adjuster to manage your claim you should expect your adjuster to handle all aspects of the claim from start to finish that includes:
- Developing a plan of action serves your best interest and advises you how to proceed with any required mitigation/demolition efforts so that you comply with the post-loss duties of the insurance policy. These activities can mean the difference between an inadequate insurance claim settlement and a fair claim recovery. If you are not careful and sign what is called an “Assignment of Benefits Contract” with a contractor, you may never see any money at all.
- Making you aware of your duties as the insured, obtaining a certified & true copy of the policy and determine the insurance coverages, policy limits, exclusions, and deductible issues in the policy. Identify any co-insurance requirements/potential penalties. Was the property insured to value? If not there will be a penalty applied to the settlement amount. Review any Law & Ordinance/Code Upgrade issues that may be need to be addressed in the claim. What needs to be done to bring the structure up to the current building code?
- Photograph/videography of the scene, document the debris pile, correspond and negotiate with the insurance company, log all conversations, meetings and discussions, keep a professional claim file active, dispatch engineers and estimators as needed to write detailed damage repair estimates, document inventory, help you determine and prepare a loss of rents claim and handle the extra expense claim if there is one.
- Be a resource and help educate you to ensure a positive insurance claim experience. Insurance companies are a business. They cannot stay in business by maximizing their payouts. Therefore, their objective is to minimize their claims payouts to keep their bottom line healthy. Also, you should know that the adjuster that will be sent out by the insurance company will likely try to bring their "preferred contractors.” These folks work for the insurance company and therefore owe their allegiance to the insurance company, and not you, the policyholder property owner.
To provide an example, Tutwiler and Associates was hired on a very large manufacturing fire in 2009 in which the main warehouse of a sporting goods business was completely destroyed including all the inventory, business records, business property and electronic databases that stored the accounting, orders, and operations information. Under Tutwiler’s guidance, the owners quickly reported their claim to the insurance company and took immediate action to secure a temporary facility to get the business up and running and put all their employees back to work to fulfill their orders. During that time, the public adjusters from Tutwiler worked closely with the accounting and operations staff to complete the tedious process of organizing and documenting, the insurance claim reports required by the insurer. After all, the burden of proving the loss and damages for purposes of filing an insurance claim is on the policyholder!
After obtaining a certified and true copy of the insurance policy, Tutwiler analyzed the different layers of coverage, the respective policy limits, sub-limits, deductible issues, actual cash value vs. replacement costs, depreciation schedules, and obvious coverage and exclusions factors. Unique strategy was also used to analyze many other factors that are vital in maximizing the financial road to recovery. Hiring an experienced public adjuster can efficiently help the policyholder navigate the claim process and also address complex insurance claim issues allowing the policyholder to focus their efforts back to their area of expertise.
Read about more of our large loss claim experience in our Success Stories and call us for a free consultation.