In the aftermath of a major storm, the demand for insurance claims adjusters to respond to claims can be high. Just as it can be difficult for you to find a good contractor to repair your home, it can be difficult for insurance companies to find enough adjusters to keep up with the claims demand. Sometimes insurance companies hire contract insurance adjusters to respond to claims, especially when the volume of claims is high after a storm or other major natural disaster. When the volume of claims are high, like after a hurricane, home owners may find that inexperienced insurance adjusters might be evaluating the damage to their home. Inexperience can impact your claim in many ways, resulting in delays or incorrect estimates of your settlement amount. If you disagree with your insurance adjuster about the value of damages or the value of repairs to your home, you may want to speak to Leader, Leader, & Zucker, P.L.L.C., Fort Lauderdale, Florida insurance claims lawyers.
What Does an Insurance Adjuster Do?
An insurance claims adjuster’s job is to look at the damage to your home, review your insurance policy, and determine the amount of money the insurance policy should pay for each claim based on your policy. The insurance adjuster must consider factors like cost of repairs, cost of materials, and must also consider the insurance policy to determine what is and isn’t covered by the policy. If your policy includes a deductible, this must also be considered when estimating the value of your settlement. The claims adjuster will generally come to your home to inspect the physical damage your home sustained. Insurance adjusters may use computer programs and formulas when estimating the value of your claim. These formulas may assist adjusters with determining how much repairs are likely to cost, how much materials will cost, and how much labor will cost. However, these formulas may not always reflect the actual cost to repair your home. It can be helpful to be prepared with several quotes from contractors with a breakdown of cost and labor to assist your insurance adjuster with the claims process. When insurance adjusters are inexperienced in using these computer programs or make mistakes when entering data about the damages to your home, the settlement estimate can come out wrong.
The insurance adjuster’s job, in theory, is to determine what the insurance company owes you under the claim. However from a practical perspective, if they are writing all of their estimates unfavorably for the insurance company, they may not get more work from them in the future (many of them are independent). Often we have learned that the adjuster suggested certain repairs were appropriate but not what the carrier ultimately afforded coverage for. In other cases, especially during Irma, we saw shocking number of roof claims denied for “improper maintenance” or “wear and tear” when they had clear and obvious signs of storm damage from the hurricane. If you think that the settlement you are being offered is too low, you may want to speak to your adjuster and explain why you think the settlement offer is too low. If this doesn’t produce results, consider speaking to Leader, Leader, & Zucker, P.L.L.C., insurance claims lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida today. Our firm can speak to adjusters, negotiate a better settlement, and help you put together documentation to support your request for more money.
The Importance of Keeping Records
In an ideal world, after your home suffers damage, an insurance adjuster will inspect the damage and cut you a check for the cost of repairs. However, when insurance companies are overburdened with claims, inexperienced insurance adjusters might handle your claim. These insurance adjuster’s settlement amounts may end up being lower than the cost of your damages for many reasons. Sometimes insurance adjusters use formulas or computer programs that don’t always take into account the actual cost of labor for the local construction market or the actual cost of materials. After a storm, labor costs and materials can be higher than at other times. When adjusters put information into these programs, failure to consider all contractor costs (including factors like location and the time when the repair needs to be done) can result in you getting a lower settlement than you might deserve. So, what can you do to protect yourself if you are facing delays or a fight with your insurance company?
- Keep records of all correspondence with your adjuster and insurance company. Insurers have a responsibility to respond to claims in a timely manner. Your insurance company can face a bad faith lawsuit if they unfairly delay your claim. Keep records of all communication with your insurance company. Ignored letters could help you with your case later should you need to go to court.
- Get estimates from a few contractors. How can you know what the damage to your home is worth without first getting estimates for repairs? Protect yourself. Get contractors to assess the damage and give you estimates that reflect the full and complete cost they will do the job for. If they write a low estimate to the get the job with the expectation of trying to add additional things later, it will only hurt you with resolving your claim for the right amount of money. If your insurance company disagrees with the cost of repairs, then you can at least have documentation to show the cost of repairs in your area should you need to fight for a better claim in court.
- Review your policy. Understand your insurance policy and what is and isn’t covered. Your insurance policy is your guide for dealing with your insurance company.
- Speak to an insurance claims lawyer. If, after discussing your claim with insurance adjusters, you don’t get results or if you find your claim being delayed, consider speaking to Leader, Leader, & Zucker, P.L.L.C., insurance claims lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida today. Our firm can review your case and may be able to help you with the next steps.
Keeping records is important when dealing with inexperienced adjusters, because should you ever need to take your claim to court, you’ll need documentation to back up your case. Leader, Leader, & Zucker, P.L.L.C. are insurance claims adjusters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida who can also review your claim and help you understand the next steps. We can also help you get additional quotes, or correspond with adjusters if needed.
Protect Your Rights
Homeowners have rights when it comes to making insurance claims. If you are struggling to get the claim you believe you deserve, consider speaking to Leader, Leader, & Zucker, P.L.L.C. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida today. Our insurance claims attorney