Advocate Public Adjustment Becoming Homeowner’s Best Advocate
Advocate Public Adjustment Becoming Homeowners Best Advocate
Public Adjuster Becoming Homeowners Best Advocate by Rita Charleston – Courier Times Correspondent
You’ve paid you insurance premiums regularly and on time. Therefore, when something goes wrong in your home and you must put in a claim; your insurance company will be right on top of the matter and ready to take care of you, right?
Probably, but not necessarily, say the men and women, known as public adjusters, who are fast becoming a homeowner’s best advocate. They claim they can often help property owners obtain a higher settlement than they might otherwise get from their insurance carriers.
Often, says Richard C. Adams of Public Adjusters Associates in Bensalem, homeowners may find their insurance companies to be perfectly reasonable and fair in settling a claim. However, since this is not always the case, a homeowner would be wise to contact a public adjuster.
Joe Hogan, of Action Adjustment Services in Croydon, says in some cases homeowners are not even aware of what they are covered for nor to what extent. “The insurance policy is written in a very vague way.” Hogan says. “In fact, if you read your policy you will find that every few pages contradict the ones before. So often you are trusting that you will be correctly informed by your insurance company, but that is not always so. It is not that they’re out to intentionally deceive you, but insurance companies are out to make a profit, and the more they minimize a claim, the more their profit.
So a homeowner has to know how to protect his / her own interest when property damage occurs to their home.” Insurance agents have what they call a loss ratio, Adams explains. “For example, an agent may write $100,000 worth of premiums in one year, and that $100,000 worth of premiums may create $50,000 in losses. The insurance company is happy with that and may give a bonus to the agent writing the policies. However, the following year, the same agent may write the same amount of premiums, but somebody’s house burns down, producing $200,000 worth of losses. The insurance company is then unhappy and will not give a bonus, but may not let that agent write insurance for the company anymore.”
Therefore, Adams says, the insurance agent has a direct interest in any claim and any claim payment. People have to remember that.
“I don’t want to paint a completely negative picture,” he says, “and I honestly feel most companies and company people are out there to do something for the homeowner. But that doesn’t always mean a claim will be settled to the homeowner’s satisfaction.”
According to Adams, when insurance adjusters come on the scene after a loss – be a fire, theft, vandalism or an act of God – their primary function is to reduce the company’s total exposure to a claim in order to save the company money. Public adjusters, however, have the opposite goal.
For a fee (usually based on a percentage of the settlement), the public adjuster will prepare a detailed estimate of your damage, meet with the insurance company’s adjuster and try to negotiate a settlement. “Approximately 98 to 99 percent of the claims we handle are resolved to the homeowner’s satisfaction,” Hogan claims. “Sometimes, our opinion and the opinion of the insurance company varies so much that a case has to go through arbitration, meaning the insurance company has to assign an independent appraiser to the case. We do the same so that both insurance appraisers can objectively examine the property. Then, if they still can’t agree on the cost of the damage, the insurance claim is submitted to an umpire who rules in a manner similar to binding arbitration. The bottom line is that we look to help people recover and put their property back into a position where it can be repaired.”
Adams says his company will go out to investigate and confer with a homeowner on virtually any kind of loss, from accidental water discharges to wind storm losses to theft claims and so on.
All in all, the experts agree, education is the best insurance policy any homeowner can have. Read every “exclusion” clause in your policy and understand that an insurance adjuster may not always be your best friend.
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