Understanding Residential Property Damage Claims
Contender Claims Consultants handles residential claims of all sizes for single family homes, townhomes, condominium unit owners and apartment residents. We also work with condominium and homeowner associations and their property managers to manage property claims that impact common areas.
When a loss happens at your home, its effect can be devastating. Fortunately not all losses are so severe that your home will be unlivable. Regardless of the cause or the damage it is important to make sure you are protected and any insurance adjustment and the resulting repairs are done correctly.
The larger the loss the more you need to consider hiring your own professional public adjuster to avoid costly mistakes. Just the benefit of having someone on your side that knows the issues and can guide you through the initial stages will in most cases justify the fee.
If you are going to choose a public adjuster the number one criteria is checking the experience level of the person you are considering to help you with your loss. Ask for references and call until you are satisfied this is the person you want to handle your claim. Most of all don’t make rash decisions in a time of catastrophe and high stress.
Protect your insurance claim and do not take a chance on costly mistakes. Remember it is your policy limits that are at stake. They should not be wasted on unnecessary restoration work or prices that exceed the going market rate for repairs and replacement.
If an independent adjuster is sent out to your loss, he or she of course represents the insurance company, not you.
Residential property includes single family homes, attached town homes, and high rise condos make up the largest portion of real property in this country. Not surprising, the greatest insurance losses in terms of numbers comes from this sector. The number one cause of loss to residential property results from some water event. Water losses can be very problematic for a number of reasons. If repairs including dry-out are not done correctly, mold and other damages may result which can make a water loss turn into a full blown tear-out and repair project.
Most homeowners have never dealt with a property claim and many simply think they are covered for all types of losses. Only when the insurance company starts to demand certain documents or deny or devalue certain claims does the reality of the complicated and time consuming nature of handling a property claim set in. In many cases the insurance company expects you to “prove” your claim. Having an experienced public adjuster on your side can remove the uncertainly that comes with dealing with an insurance carrier’s demands and settlement offers and make the difference in recovering the true value of your claim.
We have of late seen a shift in how insurance companies handle claims. In the past most insurance companies had trained in-house staff adjusters that handled their losses. Now, probably because of cost issues, claims are either outsourced to independent insurance adjusters or in some cases restoration companies are sent out to act as the adjuster/repairer. In our view neither of these options is good for the homeowner who has suffered a loss. Most field adjusters are unable to make decisions and must report back to an inside claims adjuster that in many cases may never visit your damaged property.
The same result can be expected with a restoration firm that may also try and bill as much as possible so as to maximize their profit. If a dispute results in the billing, the insurance company will usually say you hired the company by signing the work authorization so they will only pay what they feel is reasonable leaving you exposed to a construction lien by the restoration firm. Therefore never hire a firm to do repair work unless your insurance carrier has provided you authorization in writing.
Typically when a claim is reported to your insurance company this information is forwarded to a central index bureau that records all losses for your property address. A CLUE (Compressive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report can subsequently be obtained which will show you had a water loss at your property. This makes it a good idea to have all repairs completed and maintain the records in the event the old loss comes up in a sale or future underwriting situation.