Now that the insurance company paid your Hurricane Irma Claim, were you paid the correct amount?

Insurance companies are in the business of making money. The less they pay on your claim, the more money the insurance company saves. Even when the insurance company does the right thing, they often come up with the wrong result. Why? This happens for a number of reasons, some are innocent and some are less so. Perhaps the adjuster sent by the insurance company was in a rush to inspect your property. This isn’t uncommon. After an emergency, insurance companies overload their adjusters with work.  Many adjusters sent by the insurance company are paid for each claim they handle. This creates an incentive to handle as many claims as possible as fast as possible. Often the rush results in sloppy work and improper payments. In times of emergency, the state relaxes the standards for licensing adjusters. In fact, after Hurricane Irma, the State of Florida began allowing the insurance companies to hire adjusters from other states and to apply for licenses on an emergency basis when they may not have been able to obtain licenses prior to the storm. Whatever the reason, the result is the same; the homeowner is left without the proper funds to repair their property.

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Another reason that claims may be underpaid is that most insurance adjusters are not general contractors and may not understand what is necessary to fully restore the property after a loss. Many, if not most, adjusters hired by the insurance companies are not trained to determine the proper method of repair in all circumstances. For example, if the plumbing in your house has been damaged, is the proper repair method to re-route the pipe or tunnel through the house to replace the damaged plumbing lines? The difference in using one of these methods versus the other could mean a difference of tens of thousands of dollars. Did the adjuster ensure that the roof was properly checked for damage? Was a wind uplift test performed? Is there damage to the roof that isn’t visible to the naked eye? The insurance companies’ adjusters are generally not trained as plumbers, roofers, or engineers. Some of these adjusters utilize a specialty professional when necessary and some do not. If the adjuster sent by your insurance company does not make the right decision, it will cost you money. It should also be noted that we often see the insurance company employ “experts” such as engineers only to learn that the engineer does almost, if not all, of their work for insurance companies and therefore have an incentive to make findings favorable for the carrier and NOT for the insured to ensure they keep getting the work.  It is not uncommon for the insurance carrier’s so called “experts” to come to absurd results, in our opinion and experience in many cases.

Even if they spent the right amount of time and used the right professionals, they may still have missed something. Did the insurance company include the cost of packing and storage? Were you paid enough to cover additional living expenses if you need to leave the house while repairs are made? Was all of your damaged personal property paid for? If the adjuster missed something, failed to include the proper scope of repairs, or simply forgets to include portions of the claim, it will cost you money.

How do you know whether the insurance company made the right payment? 

Determining the proper amount of the damages requires professionals. Generally, a public adjuster, meaning an adjuster you hire yourself to assess your property, with experience in evaluating damages can properly determine the cost of repairs. General contractors can determine the proper amount of the damages and the necessary repair methods. If you’re unsure of where to start, contact Leader & Leader, P.A at no cost to you.  Even if you have cashed your insurance company’s check, you can still recover additional funds if your claim was improperly paid. Be aware that there are time limits. You should contact an attorney if you are not sure how much time you have or where to start.

How do I find the right professional?

It is important to hire a trustworthy and reputable professional. First, ask for recommendations and check with the Florida State Department of Professional reasonability to see if the individual or company has been disciplined.  Once again, at Leader & Leader, P.A. we make a distinct effort to only work with experienced, knowledgeable, trustworthy and honest professionals.  Therefore, if you give us a call, we are happy to discuss you issue, make recommendations about how you may want to proceed and what expert may be right for your particular issue and claim.


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