If you have recently made an insurance claim, your insurance adjuster may use a range of tools to determine the settlement amount you will be offered. One of the tools insurance adjusters might use is software to estimate your insurance claim. In the aftermath of a major natural disaster like a hurricane or fire, insurance companies might hire contractors who may use software to estimate your claim. Insurance companies may do this because they might be receiving an overwhelming amount of claims all at once. One of the software programs used by many insurance adjusters is a program known as Xactimate. While these programs can provide your insurance adjuster with a ballpark figure of your settlement, sometimes these estimates can be wildly off. What are some issues with software estimates? And what can you do to fight back if you are being offered a settlement that is far lower than one your contractor is providing? Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC are insurance claims lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida who can help you understand how an insurance adjuster arrived at the settlement being offered, and can take the time to assess your damages and present evidence to adjusters to support the settlement you may deserve.
Common Issues That Can Arise with Insurance Adjuster Computer Program Estimates
When companies use big data to determine your settlement amount, mistakes can happen. Data can be accurate only to a limited degree, and any errors or omissions on the part of an insurance adjuster can result in major differences in the kind of settlement you might be offered. Data doesn’t always accurately reflect reality. Each person’s claim situation will be unique. What are some errors that can occur when insurance adjusters use computer programs to estimate how much your home repairs will cost?
- Scope of Work Errors. Any small omission on the part of the adjuster can lead to radically different results in terms of the estimate you might receive. For example, failure to account for new flooring could result in a big change in how much money you might be offered for repairs. Review your adjuster’s estimate and make sure that all repairs listed by your contractor are accounted for.
- Reality Versus Ideal Circumstances. In an ideal world, your contractor can purchase just enough flooring to repair your home floors, or just enough glass to repair a window. In reality, your contractor may have to purchase a little more and then have the raw materials custom cut to your home’s dimensions. When computer programs fail to account for the reality that there might be wasted materials, your estimate can end up being lower than actual costs. Your adjuster’s estimate should account for how much a real-life contractor will charge you, not for an ideal situation where a contractor could purchase just enough material for your home. This is simply not realistic.
- Supply and Demand Factors. If you need to repair your roof because of a freak accident, a roofing professional might charge you less than if you need to repair your roof in a hot market after a hurricane. Supply and demand of services should be factored into any insurance estimate. Unfortunately, not all adjusters may take into account actual market conditions. They may only account for ideal market conditions. In Florida, after a hurricane, adjusters need to account for the reality that demand will outpace supply for contractor services.
- Additional Costs. Contractors may include in their costs profit and overhead, costs for their insurance, and costs for permits and other required fees. If your insurance adjuster doesn’t factor these costs into your estimate, your settlement could be way lower than the quote you might be getting from local contractors.
- What Data is Being Used? Is your insurance adjuster using the most recent and comparable data for your region? The cost of a roof repair after a Florida hurricane may be drastically different than the cost of a roof repair in another state. If the estimate you are being given is significantly lower than the estimates contractors are giving you, feel free to ask your adjuster about the factors on which he or she is basing your estimate. Is the adjuster accounting for inflation? Rates for a hurricane that occurred five years ago may no longer be accurate.
These are just some of the ways that computer programs can get home repair estimates wrong. When making a claim for home repairs, you may want to get more than one quote from more than one contractor. If, after getting a few quotes from reputable contractors, your insurance company and your contractors cannot agree about what would be a reasonable cost for your home repairs, then you may want to speak to an insurance claims lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC are insurance claims lawyers who can review your contractor estimates, review the damages your home has sustained, and work with insurance adjusters to help you get the best possible settlement permitted under the law.
Why is My Contractor’s Estimate Different Than My Insurance Settlement?
There are good reasons why a contractor’s estimate might be different than your insurance settlement. Your insurance company may be using a computer program while your contractor may be relying on a cost analysis based on local market conditions, the cost of materials, and other factors. If you own a custom home, or if your home has antique, luxury, or specialty materials, a computer program may not be the best way to estimate your costs. Craftspeople or artisans may need to be hired to repair specialty woodworking, for example. A computer program may not always be able to accurately represent or estimate these costs. Software uses data from a range of situations and sources. The closer you home is to the average home, the closer the estimate may be to reality.
While insurance estimates may look thorough, you should always ask your adjuster if he or she is using a computer program to generate the estimate. If this is the case, talk to your contractor. Look at each item in the estimate and ask your contractor if the estimate is accurate. If you are still having trouble with your claim after talking to your contractor and adjuster, consider speaking to the insurance claims law firm at Leader, Leader, & Zucker, PLLC in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.