Since Merlin Law Group handles property damage claims that are denied or underpaid, we review a lot of claim files. And often we are reviewing this information years after the loss. But when the claim is first discovered reported to the insurance company, the claim process is just beginning and the first responders are just getting deployed. Often, a claim is not properly handled from the get go because the adjuster assigned by the insurance company does not have the experience or training on how to handle your claim. When the claim is one during a catastrophe, the assignment might be made to a seasoned adjuster or to a fresh face, but both may be overloaded with work and not have the resources to do a proper adjustment.
As a policyholder, you always have the option to ask for a different adjuster to be assigned to you claim. Different personalities mesh well together and sometimes you meet someone and right away you know that the two of you have a personality conflict. Think back to the college roommates, teammates, and co-worker groups. Some people in those relationships may still be your best friend, while others snub you. After a devastating property damage loss, most policyholders are looking for an understanding, smart, and empathic adjuster to help them through the process. However, the person showing up at the door may have already inspected more than his or her fair share of losses that day and may have no power to actually do anything on the claim and they may be wondering how they will pay their own bills if they walk off the job because their supervisor is a royal jerk.
And yes, many adjusters sent by the insurance company have no power. Some may not even have a license. Make sure you ask about both.
I try not to place all of the blame on the person in the field when they fail to look at all the damage because it is management and the corporation that has really failed the homeowner. But because so often we hear, see, and read about inadequate and improper adjustments, the policyholder needs a very strong advocate and voice. Meanwhile many adjusters are also having an inner battle with themselves because they are not happy, and may be morally opposed to the role the insurance company has them doing. As a result, it is not uncommon for an adjuster who used to work for one or more insurance companies to switch and become a public adjuster. A public adjuster works for the policyholder directly and not for an insurance company. If your insurance company specifically cautions you against hiring a “PA”, take that as a message you should consider hiring a public adjuster to keep the playing field equal, because it sends a signal they are trying to hide something from you that an insurance professional would know was wrong.
Today, I want to make a list of what I think is often missing from the adjusters sent out by the insurance companies and what other policyholders tell us they are experiencing when the first adjuster comes to the loss.
Remember all insurance adjusters have a duty to the insured not to put their own interests or the interests of the company over you. Adjusters can’t ignore the evidence and hide coverage but, this is the decline noted in the field and with telephone adjusters:
- Mad at the world attitude (Why won’t he even shake my hand)
- Poor Time Management (Is he ever going to respond?)
- Poor interpersonal skills
- Not up to speed on the claim
- Doesn’t seem to want to help
- Losing patience in a 15 minute inspection/ meeting
- Sloppy work
- Does not seem to communicate well with those on the same team
- Does not seem to be update with technology.
- Has the “that’s not my problem attitude.”
If you are experiencing a claim and faced with someone on the other side that has one or more of these problems, consider hiring a public insurance adjuster, request a change in the field adjuster or desk adjuster assigned, and document every example of the improper adjusting in writing.
If you are an adjuster reading this and thinking I am a bah humbug Scrooge, consider taking a continuing education course and working on your time management skills These simple steps can help you to change how you are adjusting losses.