After Hurricane Irma – Should I file a Claim?
I have provided the following piece of advice to hundreds of homeowners: “Don’t adjust your insurance claim?”
What does that mean? A layperson, in other words: a person not familiar with insurance industry, may not even know what the word “adjust” means when used in the context of an insurance claim. What does it mean to “adjust” an insurance claim?
The website Dictionary.com lists the following definitions of the word “adjust.”
verb (used with object)
1. to change (something) so that it fits, corresponds, or conforms; adapt; accommodate: to adjust expenses to income.
2. to put in good working order; regulate; bring to a proper state or position: to adjust an instrument.
3. to settle or bring to a satisfactory state, so that parties are agreed in the result: to adjust our differences.
4. Insurance. to determine the amount to be paid in settlement of (a claim).
So, to “adjust an insurance claim” simply means “to determine the amount to be paid in settlement of a claim.” In order to do this, your insurance company employs claims adjusters. An insurance claims adjuster, simply put, is one who adjusts an insurance claim.
Claims adjusters review your claim to determine a fair amount for settlement. They interview you and inspect the property to determine the extent of the damage, and the costs of repairing the property. The claims adjuster then reports his findings along with a recommendation as to the amount of the claim. Inherent in a claims adjuster’s duties is a determination as to whether an insurance policy provides coverage for a loss.
So, to get back the question posed in the title. If your home, car, boat or business were damaged by Hurricane Irma, then do not “self-adjust” your insurance claim. Do not investigate the cause of the damage and then make a determination as whether you think your insurance policy covers it. Most people have never read their homeowner’s insurance policy and have no idea what the policy actually covers.
Do not presume the cost of the repairs will not exceed your deductible. In the past, I have spoken to people who did not report a loss because they did not believe the cost of repairs would exceed their deductible. Later, they find out the damages were more extensive or the repairs are going to cost more than they originally thought. At that point, it may be too late.
As my previous Blog, “My Home was Damaged by Irma, Now What?”, you have a duty to provide your insurance carrier with prompt notice of a loss. Failing to provide prompt notice may jeopardize your ability to recover for the storm.
If you have storm damage to your home, car, boat or business, then I recommend documenting the damage, taking steps to protect the property from further damage and reporting it to your insurance carrier.
Lastly, your insurance company will send a claims adjuster to your home to “adjust” your claim. These individuals are either employees of the insurance company or someone that receives a lot of business from the insurance company. These adjusters are not there to help you. They are there to find a reason to deny insurance coverage for your claim. By law, you are permitted to have your own representative, either a licensed public adjuster or an attorney, adjust the insurance claim on your behalf. It is important to have a professional on your side during what can be a lengthy, tedious, frustrating and confusing process.
Should you want help with your insurance claim, or just have questions to be answered, both myself and my staff are here to help. For a complimentary consultation, please contact my office toll free at (844)954-7444, email me directly at Jason@JasonHelps.com, or visit my website at www.JasonHelps.com.
The information contained on this Blog is for educational purposes only. It is intended to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide any legal advice and should not be treated as such. By reading this Blog, you understand and acknowledge that there is no attorney client relationship between you and Jason L. Scarberry, P.A. or Jason L. Scarberry, Esq. This Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state or jurisdiction. This blog is not published for advertising or solicitation purposes. Regardless, the hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.