The Claims Process for Disaster Victims
The Five Steps to Recovering Your Life After Your Home and Life Have Been Destroyed
1. Read everything carefully before you sign anything. Your insurance company’s representatives will first present you with emergency money – for immediate needs and shelter. The second round of payouts is where you need to be careful. Do not sign anything that limits your rights to seek additional proceeds.
2. Find a copy of your insurance policy. If it is destroyed or is not accessible, you should be able to get a full copy of the original insurance policy with all of its endorsements from the agent who sold you the coverage.
3. Make sure your family is safe. Most insurance policies include language that enables you to find a residence similar to your existing one. Find a hotel or rental home close to work or your kids’ school that is adequate in size and clean and comfortable. Find a place similar in size and accommodations to your previous residence.
4. Get some professional help. Insurance companies hire and train their adjusters to represent the interests of the insurance company and ultimately, its investors. In many instances those adjusters do a great job helping their policyholders. However, sometimes their adjusters are too keenly focused on the bottom line of the insurance company instead of paying the policyholder what they are rightly due under the terms of their insurance policy. If you have doubts about what your insurance company is telling you, or you are simply do not have enough time and expertise to completely value and settle your claim, contact a professional that will work for you and will only represent your best interests.
5. If you go it alone, go slowly and take your time. The insurance company may pressure you to speed up the process – you may be anxious to put all of this behind you as quickly as possible in order to get back to your life, but you need to resist that urge. In these types of cases, especially with homes that have many improvements and renovations, or with families with lots of possessions, haste definitely makes waste. Take your time and carefully review each and every document before signing anything. If you don’t agree with the estimates for repair or replacement provided by your insurance provider, fight back.
Why use a Public Insurance Adjuster?
In many cases, the Public Adjuster is able to get more money from the Insurance Company than you will be able to on your own. Even after deducting the Public Adjuster’s small percentage fee (much less than using a lawyer), you will probably still come out ahead.
For most families affected by a disaster, the biggest advantage of using a Public Insurance Adjuster is that they can get back to living their life while a professional handles all of the details. Instead of spending 20 hours or more a week, researching replacement and rebuilding costs, analyzing and completing various forms, and negotiating with insurance company adjusters and restoration experts, the Public Adjuster can do all of that. This means you can get back to your family life. Normalcy and a return to a routine schedule will greatly help you and your family adjust and move on.
For many, the time savings and the emotional satisfaction of having a professional handle the minutiae and painful negotiations is much more important than whatever added funds the adjuster is able to get for them. It’s more than just the money.
Ron Reitz is president of San Diego-based Quality Claims Management Corp., a nationally licensed public insurance adjuster, providing hazard claim recovery services to investors, mortgage servicers, homeowners and businesses. Earlier, he pioneered the national hazard insurance claims business of GMAC-RFC (now GMAC-ResCap). He is the past president of the California Association of Public Insurance Adjusters and currently serves on the board of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters.
Contact Quality Claims Management at (866) 450-1183 or http://www.qualityclaims.com.
"Born Out of Need and Compassion." Bradford Stanley founded DocuHome in March 2009 after he and his family lost their home in the Malibu Corral Canyon fire. Read the full article
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