What Is An Adjuster?
An adjuster is an insurance expert who evaluates your insurance claim and determines how much you should be paid for your property damage based on the evidence at hand. There are three types of insurance adjusters:
- Company/Staff Adjuster: An adjuster who is an employee of the insurance company. Naturally, as an employee of the insurance company, they follow the guidelines set forth by the insurance company and looks out for the best interest of their employer “the insurance company”.
- Independent Adjuster: An adjuster who may work for multiple insurance companies as an independent contractor, is hired by the insurance company. They also follow the guidelines set forth by the insurance company and looks out for the best interest of their employer “the insurance company”.
- Public Adjuster: an adjuster who is licensed, bonded, and regulated by the state, who works only for the public, like you. A Public Adjuster has no ties with the insurance company, and as an expert is employed by you, it is in their sole interest to get “YOU” the maximum settlement possible.
Why Should I Hire A Public Insurance Adjuster?
Even in the most straightforward of claims, it is worth remembering that the insurance company will only pay out what they believe should be due to you, based on an evaluation by their experts, using their process and criteria. Insurance policies are long and complex documents that are continually changing and vary greatly from policy to policy and insurer to insurer. Even the most focused claimant may not be familiar with or fully understand the terminology used or all of the clauses and contractual conditions in even the most straightforward of insurance policies, putting them at a disadvantage when dealing with the insurance company, who wrote the document.
You may be owed more money than you think! Our team at ACE is not only closely familiar with the terminology and clauses in policy documents, but our staff is also extremely knowledgeable and experienced at determining the actual cost of returning your property to its pre-loss condition. While the insurance company will be looking for ways to interpret the insurance policy and circumstances surrounding your claim in their favor and at times in an attempt to deny your claim, we will be working to interpret it in your favor. We will always have your best interest in mind. Studies have shown that using a Public Adjuster usually results in a settlement that is 3-5 times larger than submitting the claim on your own and dealing directly with the insurance company.
ACE will ensure that property owners are comprehensively compensated for their damages and properly indemnified for their loss. The principle of indemnity is to restore an insured to their pre-loss condition. Most insurance companies never fully indemnify their policyholders in attempt to minimize their claim costs and ultimately please their shareholders.
It’s simply a matter of leveling the playing field. The insurance companies have their experts, why shouldn’t you have yours?
Will I Be Denied or Cancelled If I Hire A Public Adjuster?
Absolutely Not. A Public Adjuster is a licensed and insured professional. It is mandated by the State Legislature and regulated by the Department of Insurance. It would be a violation of your rights if any insurance company denies or cancels you based on hiring a Public Adjuster. Hiring a Public Adjuster is a right given to you by the State Legislature.
Can I Submit A Claim On My Own Without Any Help?
Yes, you have the right to submit the claim on your own without the help of a Public Adjuster. Will you have the same results? Absolutely not. It has been proven that a Public Adjuster can help you receive 3-5 times more compensation for your loss than you working directly with your insurance company.
A Public Adjuster is an expert at policy coverage, the claim process, inspections, the scope and details of the damages, preparing estimates, proving your loss and negotiating. Don’t let the insurance company fool you into thinking that you don’t need the help of a Public Adjuster or that they are going to put your interests before theirs. This is exactly what your insurance company wants you to do, because that way, they will always have the advantage of having an expert there to represent and protect their interest. You should be doing the same by hiring your own expert that will educate you, protect your interest, and get you the most for your loss.
Call ACE before you call your insurance company or a restoration company. The insurance company hires an expert to represent them and you should do the same.
Why Shouldn’t My Insurance Agent Take Care Of My Claim?
Your insurance agent’s specialty is likely in marketing insurance policies and not necessarily in preparing or filing claims. Also, many agents are paid an annual bonus when claims from their clients are below a certain threshold. Therefore it may present a conflict of interest for an agent to take care of your claim.
Will My Insurance Company Raise My Rates After Filing A Claim?
When insureds are affected by a large catastrophic event like a hurricane, insurance companies will raise their rates in that area, because the area would now be considered a higher risk to insure and that will result in higher insurance rates for you and everyone in the affected area regardless of whether you place a claim or not. Another reason your insurance company will raise your rates is when they automatically increase your coverage annually. Your insurance company is going to raise your rates regardless of whether you place a claim or not, regardless of how long you’ve been with them, or how loyal you are, and regardless of how good your relationship is with your insurance agent.
Will My Insurance Company Cancel My Policy For Placing A Claim?
Your insurance company can cancel your policy for several reasons that may include the following: Non-payment of policy premiums, misrepresentation and/or concealment of material facts, insurance fraud, failure to correct hazardous conditions, and reoccurring losses or repetitive claims for the same cause of loss (having three or more non-weather related claims in a 3 year period etc...). Your insurance company cannot cancel your policy for using the insurance for its intended purpose or as a result of you placing a claim for damage(s) to your property that is sudden and accidental and covered under your policy. It’s highly recommended that you hire a Public Adjuster to represent you before you submit your claim; you may say something that the insurance company will use against you to discredit your claim or reduce the amount of compensation you receive.
How Are Public Adjusters Paid? Do I Have To Pay Upfront?
There are no upfront fees! We are paid a percentage of the amount that is recovered for you. When the insurance company issues a payment we collect a percentage from all payments recovered which will be disclosed in your contract at time of signing. If we can’t recover for you and the insurance company doesn’t issue payment then you owe us nothing. No Recovery No Fee
Do I Need To Clean/Repair Everything Right Away?
No. You shouldn’t do any cleaning or repairs (except for protecting your property from further damage) before you’ve contacted ACE and before the insurance company has had a chance to inspect the property. Don’t throw anything away, including debris. If you clean it beforehand, you’re literally cleaning away evidence that could mean thousands of dollars in compensation that you would have otherwise been entitled to, especially if you have it professionally cleaned by a restoration company. Leave everything untouched and resist the urge to clean until the damage is assessed and documented by our expert adjusters and your insurance company’s representatives.
Can A Restoration Company Handle My Claim?
No. A restoration company cannot adjust your claim, only a licensed Public Adjuster can adjust your claim. The restoration company’s scope of expertise is professional cleaning, not insurance coverage. Only a Public Adjuster has the expertise to determine what coverage pertain to your loss and apply them accordingly. The restoration company is only concerned with one thing: cleaning and/or repairing the damages; since they are not insurance coverage experts, they will only be concerned with getting paid to do the cleaning and are not aware of every coverage that applies to your loss and will not be able to adjust your claim or get you the maximum compensation. Once you have hired a Public Adjuster to get you the maximum compensation that you’re entitled to, then depending on your loss it could be a good idea to hire a restoration company if needed, and only after you’ve received your compensation check, not before. You don’t want to get stuck with a $10,000 cleaning bill that the insurance company has refused to pay, so wait to get your check prior to commencing any cleaning or repairs or signing any work order contracts with a restoration company.
My Insurance Company's Payment Was Not Enough. Can I Re-Open The Claim?
Yes! We can re-open your claim. We can file a supplemental claim on your behalf, as long as it falls within the statute of limitation allowed by the State of Florida.
Insurance Company Denied My Claim. Am I Entitled To A Second Opinion?
Yes. We can evaluate your claim to determine if there is any evidence or information missed or misinterpreted by the insurance company, and if so, we can re-open the claim on your behalf, presenting the documented information to them and insisting they reevaluate your claim. In our experience many denied claims can be subsequently settled with the insurance company, resulting in them paying out.
Is Smoke, Soot, and Ash Contamination Considered Damages?
Smoke, soot, and ash contamination is carcinogenic and is very harmful to your respiratory system, causing bronchitis and asthma-like symptoms as well as coughing and allergies, especially for infants, toddlers, elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory conditions. Smoke, soot, and ash contamination is covered under your homeowner’s or property insurance policy as long as you can prove it…because the burden of proof lies on you, not your insurance company or their adjuster.
Does Rain Wash Away All The Smoke, Soot, and Ash Contamination From A House Fire?
Rain will not wash away smoke, soot, and ash residue. To properly clean the structure it must be pressure washed with a special chemical spray. Left untouched, the contamination will remain on your property for many years. The contamination remains on the structure and in your attic, insulation, drywall, clothing, furniture, drapes, curtains, carpeting, and other fabrics and textiles. Every time it rains, the smoke smell will be reactivated and that’s because it’s still there regardless of the amount of rain that falls on your property. Depending on your particular situation the affected areas may ultimately need to be replaced.
I’ve Cleaned My House, Can I Still Place A Claim For Smoke and Ash Contamination?
If you have done some regular household cleaning, you still haven’t completely removed the contamination. Unless you’ve had a professional cleaning company clean your home (inside and out), personal property, and clothing, you haven’t properly cleaned your home. Don’t tell your insurance company you have cleaned your home because their definition of cleaning (usually through a restoration company) is not the same as yours, and your insurance company will use your words against you, so be careful what you say to them. Although cleaning your house before the insurance company inspects your home is damaging to your claim, you probably have not cleaned it properly. Be sure you contact a Public Adjuster to properly assess the damage prior to placing a claim and contacting your insurance carrier or doing any type of cleaning because your Public Adjuster will need to show the damage to your insurance company in order to prove your loss.
I've Got Mold, What Should I do?
Call us and we will complete an evaluation of your home and analysis of your insurance policy to determine if you have mold coverage. If you are covered and decide to hire our firm to process your claim we will document your loss and file your claim immediately with your insurance company. The most important thing to know is mold needs to be addressed immediately as it can be toxic and should be disposed of properly. Repair costs depend on how extensive the contamination is. It could cost thousands of dollars to take a room "down to the studs" to replace Sheetrock on walls and ceiling, plus carpeting, wood flooring and clean personal belongings.