When you file an insurance claim with your homeowner’s insurance company, your insurance company may handle your claim in-house, or it may hire an independent insurance adjuster. If you are dealing with an independent insurance adjuster after a hurricane, tropical storm or other damaging events in Florida, there are some important facts you need to know.
Independent Does Not Mean Unbiased
While independent insurance adjusters may be “independent” in the sense that they are not employees of the insurance companies, they are far from unbiased. On the contrary, independent insurance adjusters’ have a strong financial incentive to keep the insurance companies happy. Simply put, the more money they save the insurance companies, the more claims they get to handle.
How To Deal with the Independent Insurance Adjuster During Your Property Damage Claim
As a result, when you are dealing with an independent insurance adjuster, you need to act as though you are dealing with the insurance company directly. You need to be careful about what you say to the adjuster, and you need to be prepared to fight for the coverage to which you are entitled. Here are 10 more tips for working with an independent insurance adjuster when you have a property damage claim in Florida:
1. Be Careful About What You Put in Writing
Just as you need to be careful about what you say to an independent insurance adjuster, you also need to be careful about what you put in writing. When writing emails or sending text messages, avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as either (i) suggesting that you are violating the terms of your homeowner’s insurance policy (i.e., by performing unauthorized repairs) or (ii) suggesting that you are accepting a settlement for less than full coverage.
2. Make Sure the Adjuster Documents All of the Damage to Your Home
You should be present when the adjuster comes to inspect your home, and you should walk around with the adjuster to ensure that he or she fully documents all of the damage to your real and personal property. If the adjuster misses something, do not be shy about speaking up and asking him or her to take additional photos.
3. Take Your Own Photos and Videos
While the independent insurance adjuster is taking photos, it is a good idea to take your own photos and videos as well. You can also do this before or after the adjuster leaves (as long as it is safe to do so). This way, you won’t be relying solely on the adjuster’s photography skills, and if the adjuster still misses something, you will have your own documentation that you can provide.
4. Be Prepared to Follow Up
Independent insurance adjusters often handle a large number of claims—especially after hurricanes and tropical storms. Many of them also aren’t the best at communicating, and some will intentionally use delay tactics to try to protect the insurance companies. As a result, when dealing with an independent insurance adjuster, you should be prepared to follow up on your claim regularly.
5. Keep Copies of All Communications You Send and Receive
If you end up running into issues with your property damage claim, it will be important to have copies of all communications between you and the independent insurance adjuster. Keep copies of all emails, text messages, letters, voicemails and any other communications you may send or receive.
6. Make Sure You Know the Terms of Your Policy
Any time you have an insurance claim—whether under your homeowner’s insurance policy or any other policy—it is important to make sure you know your rights. You should not rely on the adjuster to tell you what coverage you have (or don’t have available. Review your policy carefully, and if you aren’t clear about any of the terms, seek help from a professional who has your best interests in mind.
7. Make Sure You Protect Your Legal Rights
Hopefully, your property damage claim won’t take years to resolve, but if it does, you will need to make sure you protect your legal rights. Filing an insurance claim does not satisfy the statute of limitations. If you wait too long to pursue legal action (if necessary), you could lose your ability to do so.
8. Understand that Your Insurance Company Has the Last Word
Since independent insurance adjusters do not work directly for insurance companies, they do not have the authority to make coverage determinations in most cases. As a result, if an independent insurance adjuster says something like, “Don’t worry, that will be covered,” or “The insurance company isn’t going to cover this,” you should not take this as the last word. Instead, you should contact your insurance company to find out the status of your claim or seek help if you are concerned that it may not fully cover the damage to your home.
9. Consider Hiring a Public Adjuster
While an independent insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, a public adjuster works for you. A public adjuster will handle your claim with your best interests in mind and deal with the independent insurance adjuster on your behalf.
10. Seek Help from a Local Property Damage Attorney
While a public adjuster can help with your claim in many ways, there are limits to what he or she will be able to do. If the insurance company refuses to pay, you will need to hire a property damage attorney to pursue mediation, seek an appraisal or fight for coverage on your behalf. Additionally, by getting a property damage attorney involved early, you may be able to avoid the need to take legal action, and if legal action becomes necessary, your attorney will be up-to-speed on everything that has happened during your claim.
Need Help Dealing with an Independent Insurance Adjuster? Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Do you have questions or concerns about dealing with an independent insurance adjuster in Florida? If so, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. To discuss your property damage claim with an attorney at Maus Law Firm in confidence, please call 954-784-6310 or request an appointment online today.