This past Sunday, my family met my work family. My parents, my girlfriend, and I had brunch with Chip Merlin and Mary Fortson in Tampa (see picture below). It was a perfect setting at Oystercatchers and the food was even better than the ambiance. The reason I’m telling you this is because my work family is fast becoming, simply, my family. This is not because we are on the phone and email with each other constantly, but because of the support and willingness to teach a less experienced attorney the tricks of the trade. This support system is turning me into a better attorney.

When I was a prosecutor in Hudson County, I prosecuted drug addicts, troubled teens and adults who commit all kinds of heinous acts. The one common element I noticed among all these individuals was that they had little to no support, and the people they surrounded themselves with only contributed to their bad behavior. If they had surrounded themselves with the right people, perhaps their lives would have turned out for the better.

While this is simply a metaphor, for your property insurance policy and your property insurance claim, surrounding yourself with the right people is paramount. It starts with selecting the right insurance broker to sell you the proper coverage. We at Merlin Law Group have handled thousands of claims where there was either inadequate or incorrect coverage for the insured.

Second, choose the right insurance company. Do your homework and shop around for different policies and coverage. See how the representatives of the insurance company treat you when you call to ask questions or file a claim. They’re supposed to be courteous and have the policyholder’s best interest in mind.

Third, if you have to file a substantial claim, it’s best to hire a public adjuster to assist you with gathering information and communicating with the insurance company to help you get the money you deserve. In any profession, there are reputable members of that profession and non-reputable members. Do your homework when selecting a public adjuster. You can always contact your local public adjuster association for recommendations.

Last, when necessary, hire a good attorney to litigate your claim. When hiring an attorney, ask yourself, what experience do they have in property damage cases? Is this the only area they practice in or do they take whatever case walks in the door? As the saying goes, “A jack of all trades is a master of none.”

If you surround yourself with knowledgeable, experienced, and courteous people, you can rest assured that your claim will be handled properly no matter how far it goes. However, even if you select the right people to help you with your claim it will go nowhere unless you work with those people to help resolve the claim. Provide all documentation and answer questions to the best of your ability when asked by your insurance company, public adjuster, or your attorney. Being proactive will resolve your claim sooner than if you take a passive approach.