What to do after a loss

There are basic duties that all property owners are required to adhere to after suffering a loss. These can be found in any insurance policy and we trust you are aware of these. Below are some additional insights and helpful ideas that go beyond your fundamental responsibilities that can help you move your claim forward in a direction and manner of your choosing.

Resist the natural inclination to be in a hurry to settle your claim and see quick progress. In the long run, it will be well worth the extra time you put into it to work out a proper settlement.

REMEMBER, the Claims Representative and/or the Independent Adjuster represents the insurance companies. They cannot by law represent the Insured (you). They may tell you that they are your representative but that is not true. The ONLY licensed adjuster that can legally represent the Insured is a PUBLIC ADJUSTER.

DO NOT IMMEDIATELY HIRE ANYONE. Be very careful and go slowly before you consider hiring the adjuster’s “preferred” contractor. For all intents and purposes the “preferred” contractor works for the insurance companies and as a result are often more interested in keeping the insurance company happy than you, the policyholder.

Absolutely do NOT hire any general contractor without first seeing a complete and detailed estimate of what they intend to do and how much it will cost. This is your property, and probably the biggest investment of your life. Make sure anything you sign prior to getting a complete estimate is only allowing for temporary repair or emergency service mitigation type work – very limited authorization.

As soon as possible take plenty of pictures of the damage, inside and out. The more the merrier. Take wide angle shots of entire areas and then close-ups of specific items in the most damaged areas.

Ask your adjuster in writing to provide you a complete “certified copy” of your policy. The policy is the instruction manual for the claim. You will need an up-to-date copy. There is no cost to you to receive a certified copy.

Your adjuster is going to keep a written log of all activity associated with your claim (including conversations with you or with your public adjuster). It would be prudent for you to do likewise. Don’t let the insurance company be the only one documenting the claim.

Put any request for information or answers in writing to your public adjuster and/or the insurance company adjuster if you are going to attempt to settle your own loss. It will send them a clear and distinct message that you are taking this claim seriously and it will force them to respond accordingly. What is in writing carries infinitely more weight and can be verified if needed unlike that which is merely spoken.

Get broken windows and doors boarded up to prevent theft and additional damage. Have any roof damage “tarped” or temporarily covered. This cost will be reimbursed or paid by the insurance company. It is your responsibility to protect your property from further damage, not the insurance company’s.

It is common to be asked to submit to a recorded statement. Take recorded statements seriously and be absolutely honest in every answer. Make sure you have them agree, while the tape is running, to give you a copy of the tape as well as the transcript if it is transcribed. Our recommendation is to also record the statement with your own recorder at the same time.

Don’t allow the insurance company to put you into temporary housing that is half the size of your damaged home and or business relocation. You are entitled to maintain the same standard of living you had prior to the loss. For the sake of your business and to keep the business continuity and morale among your employees and vendors, not to mention if you’re dealing with a residential loss, your marriage and your kids, always insist on what you are entitled to which is similar accommodations and furnishings. This insurance adjusting claims process is going to take longer than you are imagining right now. You will regret it if you disregard this little piece of advice, we promise you.

While you wait for the certified policy, ask your insurance agent to print out a current declarations page for you. This document will show you the policy limits for your structure, contents and additional living expenses.

Do not allow anyone to demolish or tear out any of the damaged structure. Until the structural portion of the claim is completely and finally settled the structure should remain as is. Destroying “evidence” will only hurt your chances of getting completely indemnified.

Along the same lines as immediately above, do not discard, throw away any business equipment, clothes or household items before the inventory is complete, every item photographed AND the insurance carrier has approved it IN WRITING.

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