Thousands of people were forced to evacuate and thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed by Hurricane Michael which made landfall on October 10, 2018. Insurance claims are pouring in as policyholders try to restore their homes, properties, businesses, and lives.
In order to handleall the expected claims, insurance companies hire and rely on independent adjusters to adjust the huge influx of catastrophic claims. Far too often, inexperienced and over worked adjusters provide incorrect estimates that result in underpayment or wrongful denial of clams.
When insurance companies rely on these inexperienced and over worked adjusters, damages are often missed and claims are severely underpaid (or even denied). This was well documented with Hurricane Sandy claims in 2012. After thousands of Sandy victims complained about poor adjusting, FEMA reopened 20,000 claims and found more than $390 million in unpaid damages.
Hurricane Irma in 2017 is another example. One year after the storm, thousands of Floridians are still waiting to be paid the full amount of moneies to which they are entitled to fix their homes, and thousands more have sued their insurance companies over disputes caused by adjustment errors.
Small errors add up – like not pulling off drywall to inspect for hidden damage or not being familiar with the proper use of the required software used for loss estimates. These mistakes can reduce or delay insurance payments. If you filed an Insurance Claim for damages caused by Hurricane Michael, follow these tips to protect yourself and your claim:
How To Protect Yourself
You can never ask enough questions! For property owners, an inspection is often the first step in the claims process. Asking how experienced or knowledgeable the insurance adjuster is is likely the last thing on your mind. However, it should be a primary concern to ensure that your claim is handled fairly and properly. You can ask the following questions to gauge the insurance adjuster’s level of experience:
- Is the insurance adjuster an employee of the insurance company or an independent adjuster? Get his or her card or contact information.
- If an independent adjuster, are they allowed to make decisions and payments on behalf of your insurance company? Or does the claim need to be approved by a “desk” adjuster?
- Is the adjuster a Florida resident and familiar with the Florida building code, or are they from out of town?
- What is their level of experience and/or training with Xactimate (or other estimating software)?
Make sure you also keep detailed records of any communications with your insurance company regarding your claim. Use email whenever possible so that you can provide a date/time stamp of when communication occurred and what was said.
Need Help With Your Hurricane Insurance Claim?
Whether you are getting ready to make your claim for damage, or have already reported your claim, contacting Danahy & Murray could help you avoid forfeiting insurance coverage rightfully yours, or accepting less than what you are owed for all your insured losses. Contact us online or by calling 813-940-1500 for a free case review.