If you a Florida property owner and have suffered substantial damage to your home or business from Hurricane Hermine, you may be asking yourself: “Should I hire a public insurance adjuster to assist in presenting my claim to the property insurance carrier, or is the claim something I can handle on my own?” This is an individual decision that you should make depending on your particular circumstances.
Our blog has many informative posts regarding reasons to retain public insurance adjusters that you can read by using our Search function on the right side of the blog. My colleague, Nicole Vinson, has previously explained three reasons to hire a public insurance adjuster.
Another resource is to visit your particular state’s professional association of public adjusters. In Florida, that is the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (“FAPIA”), which can be found at www.fapia.net
If you decide to hire a public insurance adjuster, it is critical to do so early in the process, for the following reasons:
- Once you notify the insurance company that you have a potential claim, the insurance company will send its own adjuster to visit your property to assess the damages and loss. It is helpful for the public insurance adjuster to be there for that inspection to discuss your damages and make sure the insurance company adjuster does not overlook anything so that you are compensated for everything you are entitled to under your particular policy.
- If you inadvertently provide incorrect information to the adjuster regarding the loss, this can negatively impact your claim, and will make it more difficult for a public insurance adjuster who is brought in after your claim is filed and/or the insurance company’s inspection.
- Your loss may be one where consultants or experts are needed to assess the damages. A public insurance adjuster will handle this process and time may be of the essence.
- A public insurance adjuster will help analyze your policies to verify your coverage and coverage limits. You may have two policies that could provide coverage depending on the type of loss (example: flood or wind). Again, it is important to accomplish this early in the claims process to maximize your settlement.
- Your homeowners’ policy will contain a “Duties in the Event of Loss” provision that has certain obligations that you need to comply with in the event you experience a potential insured loss. If you fail to comply with these duties, the insurance company may contend that you breached the policy and may deny your claim. A public adjuster can assist you with making sure you fully and timely comply with these obligations.
- A public insurance company will make sure your claim is filed correctly. This is especially important for flood insurance claims where there are very strict requirements on the timing for filing a proof of loss (60 days after the date of loss—unless an extension is given by the NFIP in writing) as well as the supporting documentation that must accompany a flood proof of loss.
- If you have a contents loss, the insurance company will require you to complete a contents inventory. This can often be a daunting process to a homeowner and a public adjuster will assist in accurately listing the items in the loss and retaining a contents inventory expert if necessary.
Hiring a public insurance adjuster early on can help relieve some of the stress and anxiety of dealing with an insurance claim, and who doesn’t want less stress in their life?!