MOST ASKED QUESTIONS INSURANCE CLAIMS
Q. How does the insurance firm determine what my claim is fair?
A. In practical terms, the firm can pay what you're willing to accept
if that amount matches its definition of a fair settlement. Here's
the catch: The insurance company's equal award relies on the claim
department's payout philosophy. The business can be so close it squeaks
or liberal enough to keep the consumer happy. There's no dollar charm
or formula charm. You must know a claim settlement is negotiable!
Q. What if I disagree with the repair estimate adjuster?
A. Normally, before the adjuster inspects your house, you'll want to
get a contractor's estimate and opinion to avoid a conflict between
you and the adjuster on the repair figures. But presume you disagree with
the adjuster's calculation. In that situation, the choices from this
stage are: negotiate, write complaint letters to insurance company management,
get your agent's assistance, or get State Insurance Department help.
Remember, insurance claims are regularly underpaid. You are allowed to
contact an attorney. From my knowledge, over $10,000 was underpaid at
Q. Will my insurance provider cancel my settlement offer if I disagree?
A. No. Generally, cancelations arise from permanent improvements in your
property (it burns down or is demolished). Often an insurance provider
determines it won't issue your state's policies or insure your
property form. Cancelation procedures are filed with the Insurance Department
of your State, and insurance firms must follow these procedures. Don't
think about disagreeing with the settlement bid!
Q. What if my insurance company fails?
A. Insurance firms incur taxes. The state pools tax dollars into a "guarantee
fund." If your business goes bankrupt, you can settle your lawsuit
by coordinating with your state insurance commissioner. Contact the State
Insurance Department if and when required for more information on the
Q. What about food and housing for my family when my home is unlivable
A. Many homeowner-type plans cover this cost if it's an extra expense.
Q. What is a public adjuster, and should I hire one?
A. A public adjuster will administer the insurance premium. Usually, the
fee is 10% of the overall claim, not including your deductible or depreciation.
I've heard of costs being as large as 25%, but that's negotiable.
Often a competent public adjuster can help—but beware of the public
adjuster if there are no references and recorded qualifications. Inexperienced
or unskilled public adjusters can delay or complicate the claim (but still
collect a fee). Until signing a public adjuster contract, check their
resume, license, and references. You may also want to speak with a skilled
Q. How do I pick a repair contractor?
A. This could be one of your complicated jobs. If the storm were big enough,
contractors would swarm across the world, set up a temporary store, do
some work—and pack away. It's hard to know who you trust. Try
to get a recommendation from someone doing repairs. Your next best option
is to select a local contractor to provide references you can verify.
Q. My contractor says he can manage my argument. Should I allow him to?
A. Although your contractor can be highly skilled in building, he is unlikely
to understand business insurance claims thoroughly. It's also a conflict
of interest for him to settle your claim on getting the proceeds. Suggestions,
Q. May I advance my argument while I'm waiting?
A. If the policy does not include precisely, most insurance firms will
issue advance payments if the damage is "major" and the insurer
thinks you need the money. The ASK! Note: Some insurance agents can make
advance payments without waiting for the claim department to handle the claim.
Q. How do insurance adjusters calculate repair prices?
A. Some insurance firms prepare "price guides" to represent local
content, labor, and flat-fee rates for various repairs. But be careful—sometimes
pricing guides are misleading or misused. For accurate pricing, depend
solely on prices quoted by your contractor.
Q. What if I want to fix myself?
A. If you're capable, or perhaps I should be confident enough to manage
your repairs, you're entitled to do so. Three problems must be considered:
- Stop settlement "cash-out" "Cash-out is a tool developed
by adjusters to send you less than the cost of hiring a contractor. It's
a penalty to do the work yourself. Do not consider less money than a competent
contractor can pay!
- Approve the mortgage business. Many mortgage companies need you to get
approval from them before handling your repairs—your home damage
payment check will have the mortgage company's name as an extra payee!
If you have a mortgage firm, check with it before agreeing to fix it.
Mortgage firms are known to hold settlement money and use it against the mortgage.
- Ask regarding "Holdback Depreciation." If your employer is holding
back (doesn't reimburse the dollar difference between the depreciated
value and replacement cost before the repairs are completed), you will
need to employ a contractor until you obtain full payment.
Q. May I reopen my claim after testing my insurance?
A. Possibly, without signing a release. Often wording is on the back of
the check. The insurance provider can, however, ignore the release if
it wishes to. It's all the time.
Q. How can I tell the insurance company I need more money after closing my claim?
A. This is a "supplemental" demand charge. An additional demand
is made for other expenses to fix or restore the property exceeding the
initial settlement amount. To tell the insurance provider, you need more
money, first call, then follow-up with a text.
Q. If I don't know a personal property item's value, is there a
A. It's not really. Values are presumed for many personal property
objects. The adjuster can guess—and you can.
Q. If I am convicted or suspected of defrauding, what do I do?
A. You need to stop talking, don't write, keep all your documentation,
hire an attorney, and follow the attorney's advice.
Q. What if I accept a FEMA or Red Cross donation? Would my settlement decrease?
A. No. You paid the insurance coverage fee, and the insurance provider
would pay you the entire amount you are eligible to receive.
Q. May I claim to live elsewhere until I find out if living in my home is safe?
A. If you left home because you thought it was unsafe, you might be entitled
to cover additional living expenses' before the house is assessed
and deemed structurally sound.
Q. My electricity went out due to down power lines. If I want to stay in
my house, should I rent or buy a generator?
A. Many insurance firms pay to rent generators instead of paying "additional
living expense," Purchasing a generator might be the better option.
Q. How much evidence do I need to prove ownership of everything I believe
was lost, blown away, or looted?
A. After a tragedy, very few people are requested to prove ownership of
the property they claim—but the insurance company is also entitled
to ask. If you are asked to give evidence of ownership of the asset you
claim, don't panic:
- Best—Provide receipt, credit card sales slip, or canceled item purchase check.
- Better—Provide images, owner's manuals, or the initial item packaging.
- Fair enough—send a letter, signed by someone who knew you owned the piece.
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