Having a loss in your home can be a very traumatic and stressful experience especially when dealing with your insurance company. The first choice you have when putting in a claim is decide whether or not you want to handle the claim yourself, or file through a public adjuster. A public adjuster advocates for the policy holder in appraising and negotiating the value of the loss directly with your insurance company. They handle all of the paperwork and work on a contingency basis. The advantage to a public adjuster is that they know the ins and outs of your policy and will maximize your claim. The downside to an adjuster is that not all of them are knowledgeable, or truly care enough about getting you the most money possible, so doing your homework prior to hiring an adjuster would be extremely beneficial. If you do decide to handle the claim yourself, the first thing you need to know is that you do not have to hire the restoration contractor that the insurance company requests. These contractors are hired by the insurance through national accounts and most, if not all, are franchise based companies who are in business to work side by side with the insurance carriers. This means, the franchises benefit from claims sent directly to them from the carrier, but also want to minimize the size of the claim in favor of the insurance company to keep the relationship stable. Now most would ask, wouldn’t they want the most money possible from the insurance company? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, some franchises will do more than what’s called for or will work on your behalf to insure the loss is handled properly. But most will not because the volume of work they get through the insurance company is so vast, that your claim really doesn’t matter to them whether i is done correctly or not. And honestly, most of the these franchise owners do not have the experience or industry knowledge to restore a home properly to pre-loss conditions. So in turn, you as the policy holder can hire whichever restoration company you choose, as this is your legal right by law. When handling a claim yourself, here’s a few other tips:
- Carefully review your policy in full detail
- Take photos and video of the loss and document all dates.
- Document and itemize the damage to the property and the items.
- Make temporary repairs. (If plumbing was the cause of the loss, get it fixed immediately)
- Don’t assume things aren’t covered nor accept that response from the adjuster.
- Be prepared for what can be a long and arduous fight.
Knowing your rights and your policy throughout can aid you a great deal when handling the policy yourself. And remember, if this seems too much for you to handle or if you feel out of your element, hiring a public adjuster prior to making any calls to your insurance company is always a great option.